The Wonders of Xylitol
Our not so secret ingredient Xylitol is a modern wonder. It has so many benefits we just knew you wanted to hear about them all so here goes…
Well, for one thing it’s not sugar.
Let’s be honest, we all consume far too much sugar and it is being linked to scary health problems including heart disease, diabetes and tooth decay. Cracked Candy on the hand is made from Xylitol, a natural, healthy alternative. It looks and tastes like sugar but has fewer calories and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. You can even bake with it (link to recipe?)
Xylitol is classified by us science nerds as a sugar alcohol. It’s processed from hardwood trees like birch and from corn. But that’s really a term not a description so don’t get worried by the alcohol part – it has nothing to do with the kind of alcohol that gets people a different sort of happy. Sugar alcohols are totally safe for most every body, even people with alcohol dependencies.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognize the benefits of xylitol as numerous studies suggest it can improve dental health by preventing tooth decay and helping enamel grow back thereby strengthening teeth. Xylitol does this by killing the decay causing bacteria. Xylitol also increases production of saliva which can aid in remineralization too. It also reduces acidity of saliva which helps to fight acid driven decay.
Xylitol contains 40% fewer calories than sugar and 75% fewer carbohydrates so is a weight loss friendly sweetener. You can replace sugar with xylitol in your daily life in a 1:1 ratio.
One of the negative effects of sugar (and high fructose corn syrup) is that it can raise blood sugar levels. Xylitol has negligible effects on blood sugar and insulin so is none of the harmful effects of sugar apply to xylitol. That also means it is and excellent alternative for people with diabetes, obesity and other metabolic problem. Its glycemic index is just 7 compared to regular sugar which has a glycemic index of 60-70. Sweet!
Fewer ear infections
Our mouth, nose and ears are all connected. That is why bacteria in the mouth can cause ear infections. Well, xylitol can starve some of these bacteria (streptococcus mutans – otherwise
known as strep) in the same way that it starves the bad bacteria that cause plaque in the mouth. One study in children with frequent ear infections showed daily use of xylitol reduced infection rate by 40% (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2352484/)
Little if any effects of Xylitol
We know of no negative effects of long-term xylitol consumption. Now, if you go overboard and eat, say, over 60g at one sitting (that’s more than a whole tin of Cracked Candy), then you might possibly get digestive related side effects (gas, bloating or diarrhea). One study found that people could consume 3.3lbs of xylitol a month with a daily max intake of 400g without any negative effects. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/783060)
If you have IBS, Colitis or Crohn’s – please take note: The average human body adjusts well to xylitol but if you have IBS, Colitis or aren’t sure your body likes sugar alcohols then consider starting with a small amount the first time you eat it.
And last but not least, Xylitol is not healthy for dogs
The only drawback as far as we can tell is that health benefits of xylitol to humans do not transfer to our dogs sadly. Their little livers cannot process it so please keep it out of your pooch’s reach.