I consistently look for ways to eliminate poor food choices from my diet and those in my family. Sugar is something we try to avoid. With that being noted, it’s important to look for alternative substitutes when you are trying to sweeten drinks such as coffee or tea. Or, if  you are fond of baking it is a wise choice to find alternatives to sugar. In my coffee, I will swap Stevia instead of sugar. For me, I prefer raw local honey or 100% real maple syrup instead of sugar for baking something special. These simple changes are a natural part of my  everyday life. Let’s take a closer look at xylitol and it’s side effects in our bodies.

Reading food labels is key to understanding what we are feeding our bodies. If you read labels like me, you may notice that the word xylitol is found more and more and is typically touted as a natural ingredient. To be fair, there is no simple answer if xylitol is safe. The basic outcome from reading many sources is that xylitol may be beneficial to oral health with limited side effects.

So, let’s start with the first question….What is xylitol?
It’s defined as a sugar alcohol which is a low-digestible carbohydrate that resists starches and includes fiber. The reason we have read and seen more xylitol listed in foods is that these sugar alcohols are being advertised natural. Other names for these sugar alcohols include erythritol, isolmalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol and sorbitol. What we do know is that single stomach animals are unable to properly metabolize xylose. Many people experience unpleasant digestive problems like bloating, gas and upset stomach. So, for your own comfort, I recommend trying to avoid foods with these sugar alcohols.

Xylitol is considered a “hydrogenated” food. These are known to cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunction, major depressive disorder, behavioral irritability and aggression, Alzheimer’s Disease.

Where do I think it is alright to use xylitol in small amounts? For oral health benefits, I believe sugarless chewing gum and toothpaste with xylitol has a proven track record. The dental community also recommends using it for the prevention of cavities because it aids in the removal or oral bacteria.

So, why do I choose Stevia for my coffee and tea? Stevia is a natural herb, contains zero calories and it tastes great. It is something that comes in liquid or powder form, making it simple to take with you when you are away from home.

For baking, it is easy to stay away from processed sugar by using raw local honey or 100% pure maple syrup. It is hard to tell the difference with your finished baked goods. Give it a try! Please comment below if you have a favorite baking recipe using honey or maple syrup. I like to hear what other recipes people enjoy using honey or syrup.

Cheers to Good Health!