Today a mother of a six year old girl from West Linn told me that she would not give her daughter any food that had aspartame in it because it accumulated in brain cells and could not be removed. Since only natural sugar would do, naturally her daughter has many cavities.
In addition to regular sucrose sugar, she also used Stevia – a very sweet plant with leaves 300 times sweeter than regular sugar! Now that got my attention.
Well, I was taken aback because I have never heard this before and I do not know that it is valid at all. How did she learn about this and how could I find out more? Looking online is tricky because many of the things said about fluoride (something I have experience with) are wrong online. Carefully looking for articles that have been reviewed by scientists seems the best approach. Wikipedia seems like a pretty reliable source most of the time.
Several good scientific studies have looked at sugar replacements and one of the best is xylitol. Xylitol is a “sugar alcohol”, like sorbitol, that has nothing to do with getting drunk, just explains the chemical structure of the molecule. Xylitol, unlike sorbitol, was initially derived from birch bark and it has some very diverse and potent health benefits.
One of the best things that xylitol can do for your teeth is to stop the bacteria that eat it from growing well and this prevents tooth decay and cavities. Xylitol gum is effective in stopping cavities in people who chew gum sweetened with xylitol, but only if they eat at least one gram each day. Xylitol has specifically been shown to reduce the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mothers to their babies.
One gram a day is about two packs of gum; and xylitol gum is not cheap. Fortunately, it is cheaper than fillings!
There are other health benefits from xylitol sweeteners such as reduced blood sugar so diabetics can use it, reduced infections, and reduced osteoporosis in women.
I try to have an open mind about medical issues and I love the idea of using naturally occuring plants that are low calorie and provide that sweetness that we all crave while offering other health benefits too! I have used xylitol gum for years and I will have to try the Stevia too.
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