Dr. Edwards' Blog
Chew Gum -- Fight Cavities - October 13, 2011
As a society looking for healthy food alternatives, we're learning more about a natural sweetener called xylitol. It's extracted from a number of foods, including berries, mushrooms and corn. This white, powdery substance has roughly the same sweetness as sugar with far fewer calories and no after-taste. And though you might never have heard of it, xylitol has actually been around since the 1890s.
Back in the 50s, doctors discovered xylitol worked in preventing childhood ear infections. But research shows the health benefits don't stop there.
More than 35 countries have approved xylitol for use in pharmaceuticals and food, including hard candies, cough syrup, chewable vitamins for children, mouthwash and toothpaste and gum. Chewing gums containing xylitol can actually help fight cavities. Trident and Stride brands already use it. Xylitol kills bacteria that causes plaque to build up.
Certain jellies and jams sweetened with xylitol are ideal for diabetics and people who are insulin-resistant. As a result of the increasing popularity of these products, manufacturers are now starting to include the natural sweetener in other sweet treats like maple syrup, honey and commercial baked goods.
While there are many health benefits to xylitol, there can be some side effects. Consuming too much of this natural sweetener can cause some stomach discomfort and diarrhea. The real danger, though, is for dogs that ingest any foods containing xylitol. Within an hour, they can suffer internal hemmorhaging, seizures and in severe cases, they can die.
You can buy xylitol in bulk in nutrition stores or over the Internet. On-line customer reviews say it's a great alternative to sugar for sprinkling onto food or into drinks and for cooking and baking.
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