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Xylitol is a word that many have heard lately, thanks to more and more people being diagnosed with diabetes, and needing a safe sweetener. Xylitol is found in many products and it continues to grow in popularity. With that said, do you really know what xylitol is?
What is it?
Let us start with defining what xylitol is and where you can find it. Xylitol is simply a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener. Many times, you find it in gum, toothpaste, and mouthwashes. It can also be found in many prescription medications to make the medicine more palatable.
Xylitol was discovered by both German and French chemists in the 19th century. It became popular as a safe sweetener for people with diabetes. Xylitol is made by a hydrogenation of xylose. This converts the sugar into an alcohol in your system, which does not affect insulin levels.
Xylitol has been found to aid in preventative dental care. Xylitol has caused a reduction of plaque in people who chew gum and use toothpaste that has xylitol as an ingredient. Unfortunately, the amount of xylitol you would need to take in daily is equivalent to twelve pieces of gum!
Sugar alcohols, like xylitol, have a laxative effect so they can relieve symptoms of bloating, excess gas, and diarrhea. Mannitol and sorbitol are two other sugar alcohols; however they are harder on your body than xylitol because xylitol has a lower laxation effect.
Diabetics have a hard time eating sweet foods because sugar affects the insulin levels in their body greatly. Xylitol has about forty percent less food energy than sugar, so it has a very minimal effect on insulin levels. This is also good news for those who suffer from hypertension and blood clotting issues.
In studies, it has been found that xylitol has also helped increase bone density, possibly treating osteoporosis, preventing ear infections, and even increasing white blood cell counts to fight infections. With preventing ear infections, the chewing of the gum keeps the ears clean and the xylitol prevents bacterial growth.
While xylitol is safe for humans, and possibly cats, it is toxic for dogs. It is important to make sure you keep any food, prescription, and toiletry that contains xylitol where your canines cannot get to them. The xylitol will cause blood sugar levels in dogs to drop, leading to loss of coordination and seizures within minutes of consumption.