Use this sweet remedy safely
Q: I’m grateful for the information I’ve read on your website about the benefits of xylitol. Since reading about it, I’ve noticed it in bulk in the natural food store. Should I use it to replace sugar in my baking?
Dr. Wright: I first wrote about an all-natural sugar derivative proven to prevent tooth decay in the December 2001 issue of Nutrition & Healing. Since then, xylitol has become much more extensively used in toothpaste, chewing gum, breath mints, and mouthwash products. It’s also effective in a nasal spray to reduce the incidence of both sinus and middle ear infections, especially in children.
When it’s used in small amounts, it is safe and extremely effective. But since xylitol is quite sweet, it has appeared in bulk quantities as yet another supposedly safe, natural sugar substitute for use in cooking and baking. Please don’t ever use xylitol this way!
While small quantities of xylitol are safe and useful therapeutically, ingesting anything larger than natural quantities of any simple sugar or sugar-alcohol can be harmful… especially if the sugar is unaccompanied by its natural matrix of food fiber and other associated nutrients.
The key to the safe use of any simple sugar or sugar-alcohol is using as little as possible to get the job done. For example, even though fructose is naturally present in human bodies in small quantities, in larger quantities, it’s largely responsible for the significant increase in the incidence of Type II diabetes over the last two decades. Put simply, once fructose is separated from whole fruit or other sources, it’s just another one of those refined carbohydrates we should avoid completely.
Right now the safest natural sweeteners are Stevia and Lo Han, both of which are noncaloric, unrefined carbohydrates. They are so sweet that you only need to use small quantities. Cookbooks and other information are available to give you guidance about using both in your food.
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