The Sweet, the Tasty and the Healthy: Reasons to Swap Sugar for Xylitol Today
In today’s world, it’s really easy to lose track of what we consume. Everything happens fast, our days are busy, we are surrounded by screens, and all sorts of other destructions. And yet, a big part of our life is about food: we buy groceries, we share meals with our family, we go out for a lunch with friends or co-workers, we think about our next meal, we watch cooking shows.
Fortunately, not everything you can do for your health needs to be complicated and time consuming. There are simple things you can do about your diet that can improve your health: add more greens, eat fruits, use less salt, and the hardest one: cut sugar.
Should You Quit Desserts?
Sugar is one of the most consumed unhealthy products in the world. It’s the cause of many health problems, weight gain, and it even causes psychological imbalances. So, why do we keep consuming it?
The simplest answer is that sugar makes us feel good. Sugar releases feel-good hormones (dopamine and serotonin) in the brain. Sugar makes things tastier. It’s present in many favourite foods, sweet drinks, energy drinks, fast food etc. Many people can’t imagine taking their coffee or tea without it. But the thing is, all these happy feelings disappear, and only the consequences stay.
Sugar is also addictive, in the sense that the more you consume it, the more you want to consume it. Sugar cravings are a very real thing for many. And like with other addictions, when you stop consuming it, your body goes through a withdrawal.
Do you have to completely give up lollies and deserts if you decide to go sugar-free? Well, luckily, no. There are many different products that emulate sugar, called sugar substitutes or sweeteners.
Why Makes Xylitol the Best Natural Sweetener?
There are many reasons to swap your sugar sachets for xylitol sachets. Xylitol naturally occurs in very small concentrations in some fruits and vegetables, and in some trees. Our bodies also produce small amount of xylitol during metabolism naturally.
As a substitute for sugar, it has been around since the 1800’s. At the beginning it was obtained from birch bark, but it’s now usually extracted from corn, oats, husks, mushrooms, wood etc. Xylitol is also used as a sugar substitute in the production of toothpastes, chewing gums, dietary supplements, drugs, etc.
But what makes xylitol the best alternative for sugar?
Amongst many other reasons that make xylitol the best sugar substitute is taste. Xylitol tastes almost exactly like sugar, unlike some other sweeteners and what’s more, it doesn’t have bitter aftertaste.
The body absorbs xylitol really slowly, which means the effect on blood sugar levels are so minimal that it’s safe for people with diabetes.
Xylitol has very low glycose index (GI) of only 7. In comparison, the GI of white sugar is 68, corn syrup 90 and honey 55. GI is a scale that measures how much carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels in comparison to glucose, which has a GI of 100. The lower the GI, the slower the sugar is metabolised, which makes xylitol a great alternative for sweets for people with diabetes.
3. Good for Weight Loss
A teaspoon of xylitol contains 40% fewer calories than sugar. It’s even allowed to be consumed in small doses even on some strict diets, such as keto. The low GI in xylitol also means that the body won’t store xylitol sugar substitute as fat, unlike processed sugars.
4. Good for Your Dental Health
Sugar contributes greatly to dental problems such as cavities. On the other hand, apart from not causing cavities, xylitol actually prevents them. This occurs because xylitol promotes remineralisation of tooth enamel.
5. Easy to Measure
Swapping sugar for xylitol is very convenient, not only because it can be used for baking, but also since you can substitute it 1:1. So if the recipe calls for 100 g of sugar, you should use 100 g of xylitol sugar substitute.
The extraction from birch bark isn’t environmentally friendly, so thanks to the increasing awareness of environmental impact across most industries, many manufacturers have stepped up their game and started using alternative ways to extract it.
7. Natural and Organic
Xylitol is a natural alternative to sugar, and what’s more, it can be organic. Although it may not be true for all xylitol products, there are manufacturer that only use organic products to obtain it.
Being made by fermentation from discarded bioproducts (such as corncobs or wood, which are essentially agricultural waste), xylitol is one of the most sustainable natural sweeteners.
Things to Be Careful About
– Some manufacturers of xylitol sugar substitute use GMO corn for the extraction, since it’s the cheapest source.
– Xylitol is toxic for dogs.
Sugar is the main ingredient in many of our favourite flavours and although in small doses it may not be harmful for healthy people, the more you can avoid it, the better for you. Whether for physical or mental health, or for losing weight, choosing an alternative natural sweetener over sugar is a smart choice.
With xylitol, you can’t go wrong. Even if you don’t want to cut sugar entirely and always carry a couple of xylitol sachets in your pocket, take the first step towards a healthier life and try satisfying your sweet tooth with a healthier option at least from time to time.