Boost Collagen while Enjoying Sweets?

Dr. Janet Zand

May 27, 2022

As you probably know, sugar is terrible for your skin.

In fact, one study found that for every 360-gram increase in blood sugar levels, participants looked almost a year older than their actual age.

So while that’s bad news for those of us with a sweet tooth, there is a silver lining...

Scientists from Finland found a natural sugar alternative that has anti-aging benefits, helping your skin produce more collagen!

So what is it?

Xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sugar alternative that’s made from birch wood. And it looks and tastes like sugar.

However, xylitol doesn’t have the same harmful effects as sugar. It contains zero fructose and has almost no effect on blood sugar and insulin.

And xylitol’s glycemic index — a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar — is only 7, whereas regular sugar’s glycemic index is 60–70.

Xylitol also contains 40% fewer calories than sugar.

However, xylitol doesn’t just help you avoid sugar, it’s actually good for your skin, too.

Finnish researchers found that xylitol can increase skin collagen synthesis, the natural process your body uses to create more collagen.

Collagen, as you probably know, is what helps skin keep its shape and prevents wrinkles. However, as we age, collagen production slows. That’s why boosting collagen production is a big part of most anti-aging routines, and research shows that xylitol can help.

Not only that, researchers also found that xylitol reduces the glycation of collagen. Glycation is a process where glucose molecules attach to collagen, preventing collagen from doing its job.  (Glycation is the main way sugar ages your skin.)

So by boosting collagen production and reducing glycation, xylitol is actually undoing some of the damage caused by sugar!

Plus, there’s another proven beauty benefit of xylitol: fighting plaque and gingivitis.

Why dentists recommend it

Many dentists recommend using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum or lollipops — and for good reason.

See, one of the leading risk factors for tooth decay is a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. This is the bacteria most responsible for plaque buildup, and it can lead to gum diseases like gingivitis.

These oral bacteria feed on sugar from your food, using it for fuel. However, they can’t use xylitol for fuel. Instead, when they ingest xylitol, it clogs their energy-producing pathway. Unable to get the fuel they need, the bacteria starve to death.

And it has a really powerful effect on your oral health. In one study, xylitol-sweetened chewing gum reduced levels of bad bacteria by up to 75%, without harming the good bacteria.

And human studies show that xylitol can reduce cavities and tooth decay by up to 85%!

How much is safe

Most people do just fine with xylitol. In fact, in one study, people consumed a maximum daily intake of over 30 tablespoons — without any negative effects.

However, some people do experience digestive side effects when they consume a lot of xylitol. Those side effects can include gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

So start slowly just to be safe, and give your body time to adjust before increasing the amount of xylitol you eat.

Also, a warning for dog owners...

If you have a dog, keep xylitol far out of reach. Why? Well, in humans, xylitol is absorbed slowly and has no measurable effect on insulin production. However, when dogs eat xylitol, their bodies mistake it for glucose and start producing large amounts of insulin. This can lead to hypoglycemia and even death.

And if your dog ever accidentally eats xylitol, take it to a veterinarian right away.

How to add it to your diet

So dogs aside, how should humans use xylitol?

Well, it’s actually pretty simple. You can replace sugar with xylitol in a 1:1 ratio.

So if you put a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee, replace it with a teaspoon of xylitol from a brand like NOW Foods, XyloSweet, or Zint Organic. Some people also bake with xylitol.

Xylitol is also found in chewing gum by brands like Spry and PUR. And it’s in candy, such as Dr. John's Healthy Sweets Lollipops, Zollipops, and Ice Chips Candy.

So ... while you may have to cut out sugar for younger-looking skin, xylitol is a pretty great replacement. Try it out, and let me know what you think.

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