Xylitol: The Best Sugar Alternative

sugar substitute

What Is Xylitol?

German physicist Emil Fischer discovered the all-natural sugar substitute, xylitol, in 1891.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that can be found in a number of different fruits and vegetables, like berries, corn, oats, and mushrooms (and a great deal of the xylitol that is available today comes from birch bark. It tastes very similar to table sugar and works the same in cooking, but it has about forty percent fewer calories.

Xylitol has a number of health benefits, but there are also some problems with over-consumption of this sweetener, as well as some dangers to consider. Read on to find out more.

Xylitol and Diabetes

In the 1960s, xylitol began to be promoted to diabetics in Europe as a safe alternative to sugar.

Because the body absorbs xylitol more slowly than it does sugar, xylitol is not responsible for making blood sugars rise at the same rate. It also does not lead to the same “crash” sugar causes.

That’s good news for everyone, but especially diabetics.

Xylitol and Dental Health

In the early 1970s, researchers in Finland noticed that people who consumed xylitol had fewer cavities and healthier mouths. Chewing gum makers began to add it into their recipes to help prevent the tooth decay that occurred from the presence of sugar in chewing gum.

Xylitol has since become a major ingredient in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and pharmaceuticals.

Xylitol and Osteoporosis

Researchers in Finland have also found that xylitol consumption can actually prevent the bone loss that occurs in osteoporosis.

In fact, [bctt tweet=”Eating xylitol may actually increase your body’s bone density.” username=”woweditor12″]

That’s great news for aging women and anyone who wants to stay stronger longer.

Xylitol and Ear Infections

Trident and other xylitol chewing gums have been shown to prevent ear infections. The chewing and swallowing actions are responsible for clearing the ear of excess wax. And xylitol is actually responsible for stopping bacteria from growing in the eustachian tubes that connect the nose and the ear.

I’ve bought some xylitol gum from my favorite online shopping club, and the whole family chews it. I have one daughter who’s prone to ear infections, and a daughter and a husband who have major tooth problems, so I really think we can all benefit from using it. It’s too early to tell what our results are yet, but I’ll be sure to update if something amazing happens!

Xylitol and Pregnant Women

Women who are pregnant or nursing may want to eat more xylitol. Xylitol has been shown to reduce the spread of a specific bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, from mother to child by about 80 percent. This effect lasts up to the first two years of the child’s life.

I know when I was pregnant I was afraid to eat artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet because of all the chemicals. I wish I had known about xylitol then!

Some Hazards for People and Animals

Eaten in excess (over 400 g per day, or about 26 TABLESPOONS), xylitol can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea in humans. But that’s a lot of sweetener to consume in a day. I don’t think I’d get anywhere close to that on a normal day, and I’m not sure I know anyone else who’d eat that much (or more) per day, either.

Consumed in large amounts, xylitol can be dangerous – even fatal – to dogs. This same effect does not exist for cats, however, or any other animal. So don’t ever share your xylitol-sweetened cookie with your pet dog.

Ideal Sweetener

Ideal sweetener is a major name brand version of xylitol.

It is marketed as a sugar alternative that “looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, and bakes like sugar.” And it doesn’t have any nasty aftertaste, like NutraSweet. Since I try to do a lot of low-sugar cooking, I’m always interested in sugar substitutes, and this is a very promising one indeed.

You can buy Ideal on Amazon if you can’t find it in a store near you. Give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Chef Ozzie

Don Godleski, aka “Chef Ozzie” is a professional chef and social networking genius.

He is the main promotional power behind Ideal sweetener, touting its benefits all over the Internet, television, and other types of media. His book, Sweet Revolution: Cooking Without Sugar, is available now on Amazon.

Sweet Revolution. Cooking Without Sugar.

This is the “official” Ideal cookbook. It’s a great little book that includes recipes for treats like apple pie, banana nut bread, buttercream frosting, and raspberry lemon muffins.

Here’s an old video clip of Chef Ozzie sharing some ideas for holiday recipes using Ideal sweetener.

I’ve been a fan of xylitol for a while now, and I wish more people knew about all its health benefits.

Have you tried xylitol? Maybe you’ve used Ideal sweetener to cook something? Tell me about it in the comments.

Doctors May Not Always Be Able to Do What’s Best for You

I’m not saying don’t go to doctors. I’m not even saying all doctors are evil.

Usually, very good doctors (although there are some bad ones out there) have their hands tied by the insurance companies. The health insurance companies are the ones who are really calling the shots when it comes to medical treatment in the United States. 

dangerous medicine

We like to think that the professionals to whom we entrust our health are worthy of that trust, but that may not always be the case.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying don’t go to doctors. I’m not even saying all doctors are evil.

Usually, very good doctors (although there are some bad ones out there) have their hands tied by the insurance companies. The health insurance companies are the ones who are really calling the shots when it comes to medical treatment in the United States. 

Don’t believe me? Let me share my story with you.

After the birth of my second daughter (my second c-section), I was having a great deal of abdominal pain. Now, I have a high pain tolerance (I barely felt the labor contractions with my first child, and the nurses didn’t believe I was having a baby until they looked at the contractions on the monitor), so when I say I was in a great deal of pain I mean I was in PAIN.

It hurt to sit. It hurt to stand. It hurt to lie down. It just HURT — all the time, to the point my OB/GYN thought she was going to have to go back in and see if she’d hit a nerve during the procedure or something.

But first we had a treatment course we had to follow, per the insurance company’s rules. 

First up, Neurontin (gabapentin), an anti-seizure medication that’s also used to relieve nerve pain. The doctor reasoned that if she’d struck a nerve, the Neurontin should help, and it was covered by my insurance. Not really knowing any better, I agreed to take the drug.

I wish I never had.

The Neurontin took care of the pain … maybe. I was so high, I didn’t care about the pain. And I started to not care about a lot of things that I used to. I was just that high.

But there was one thing I DID still care about … my then two-year-old daughter, who I noticed was looking at me with a confused look on her face, like, Where is my mommy?

health motivation
My two biggest reasons for wanting to be my healthiest self.

I quit taking the Neurontin that day and called my doctor to tell her so.

So, THEN my OB/GYN referred me to a pain specialist (also covered by the insurance), read QUACK. He’s the guy, according to my mom’s cousin (who is also a doctor), who they all send their “crazy” patients to … the ones they just can’t seem to help any other way. Crazy patients, crazy doctor. Makes sense in a strange sort of way. Except, I wasn’t crazy; I was really in pain.

That doctor prescribed Lyrica (pregabalin) – also something that’s supposed to help with nerve pain.

You know what the Lyrica did? It put me to sleep … all the time. Fortunately, my oldest was still in daycare, and the youngest slept most of the time too, anyway. But I didn’t stay on that medicine past two days. I’d rather deal with the pain than not be able to function at all.

FINALLY (and by this time I’d lost my job AND my short-term disability benefits), the OB/GYN said the insurance company would cover physical therapy … and THAT is what helped me. No more pain. No more drugs. Just good, healthy strength-building and stretching exercises.

I was pain-free within a couple of weeks and wishing I’d been able to start the PT sooner!

I learned a valuable lesson through that experience. Doctors, even if they genuinely WANT to help you, may not be able to give you the help you really need if the insurance company says that’s not what should be done.

So now I try to avoid going to doctors at all costs — not because I distrust doctors, necessarily, but because I know who’s really in charge of my health care decisions, and I don’t trust them. I know they’re just in it for the money.

Want to know how you can get healthier and avoid going to the doctor too?

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These Bath Accessories Are “Da BOMB”!

I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist using that for a title. I know. Bad joke.

But I’m getting ready to introduce to a very, VERY good product. In fact, it’s one of my favorite Jewelscent products (and I really love them all A LOT).

jewelscent bath bombThere it is … the beautiful Jewelscent bath bomb. These things are HUGE, and they smell amazing. Plus, they are super moisturizing. I love to dip my hands and feet in the water after my girls take a bath with them (I rarely have time for a bath, but a good foot soak I can fit in with no problem!).

soothing foot soak


I’ve also gotten some of my favorite rings out of the Jewelscent bath bombs. Here are a couple of examples.

jewelscent ring reveal


Another thing I love about these bath bombs is that there are some really good things in here, and there are not a lot of bad things. And that’s really important when you’re trying to focus on total wellness. It’s important to put the right sort of things on your skin (and avoid the wrong sorts of things). The skin is, after all, your body’s largest organ. What affects your skin can affect your whole body.

Here’s the full ingredient list of the Jewelscent bath bombs:

Sodium bicarbonate, citric acid, magnesium sulfate, polysorbate 20, fragrance, olive oil glycereth-8 esters, witch hazel, sunflower oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, sodium coco sulfate, benzophenone 4, colorant

jewelscent bath bomb ingredient list

Did you catch that “sulfate” ingredient toward the end — not lauryl, or laureth, sulfate (that’s really bad stuff, and we’ll talk about it more later on this blog.

Coco sulfate comes from coconuts, and that makes it a little less synthetically derived than either sodium lauryl or sodium laureth sulfate. There’s still some question as to how safe coco sulfate actually is, but the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database gives it safe rating. That makes it okay, in my book!

I feel I should also mention another cool feature of these bath bombs. Some of them, as I mentioned above, have rings in them. Others (the Essentials line) don’t. These are cheaper than the ring bath bombs, and they also have more of the awesome product in them.

You really can’t go wrong with either type of bath bomb! Visit my site and find your new favorite today.

Why Wellness

exploring wellness

What is wellness?

Wellness can generally be thought of as a state of health. When most people think about wellness, they think only about physical health. While that is definitely important, there is so much more to people than just physical bodies.

I’m thinking specifically here of God’s commandment to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). I kind of think of this verse as God’s definition of wellness. It’s kind of like His guidelines for us on how to live whole, complete, healthier lives. And the second commandment that directly follows this one goes right along with it.

Let’s look at the areas of wellness these verses address:

  1. Emotional wellness: If we’re honest, we have to admit that we want to be happy, and some of us would choose happiness over anything else — even at the expense of other people (which might explain why God added the second commandment so close on the heels on the first one). We can’t be truly happy unless we’re thinking of others as well as ourselves (and sometimes we have to think about others first).
  2. Spiritual wellness: Similarly, we can’t stay inside ourselves and hope to have any sort of real spiritual health at all.  We have to look at something outside ourselves — something bigger. In the context of these verses, that “Something” would be God. We look to Him first. We spend time reading our Bible and praying, and we make sure we regularly meet with other believers (which is something else the Bible recommends very strongly). There’s a reason for that. It helps keep us spiritually grounded and healthy.   
  3. Physical wellness: This is the area that gets the most attention in many of the wellness blogs and information out there today. Everyone wants to take care of their bodies (and there’s nothing wrong with this). In fact, it may be easiest to achieve this type of wellness. You certainly have the most control over this type of wellness. There are certain exercises you can do, certain foods you can eat, and certain daily vitamins you can take to help you achieve physical wellness. You can’t take a “magic” pill and fix these other areas of wellness, but you can take a daily multivitamin and start enhancing your physical wellness quite a bit.
  4. Mental wellness: On the face of it, mental wellness may seem to be the same thing as emotional wellness but it’s not. There are some subtle differences between the two. While emotional wellness has to do with learning to be happy even in the face of bad circumstances and achieving an overall positive outlook on life, mental wellness focuses on feelings of well-being and competence. When you feel mentally well, you feel able to cope with the stresses of life in a healthy way (and there will be many stresses you will have to deal with).

Are these wellness types mutually exclusive? No, of course not. They are four sides of the same square, if you will. When you’re feeling mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually well, you will feel perfectly balanced, like the square inside this frame.

square in a frameWhen you feel “off” in one area (or in more than one), you might feel more like a rectangle — or even a trapezoid, if you’re feeling particularly off balance.





Achieving Total Wellness

The goal of total wellness should be equal health in all these areas. How do you achieve this sort of balance? We’ll cover this more in detail in some future posts, but keep this in mind: Don’t neglect any area of your life.

I know this may sound simple, but it’s really hard to do, when you think about it. We are all busy all the time, and sometimes we slack off in things we shouldn’t.

Let’s consider one example:

You’re late coming home from work, and you forgot to put the chicken in the CrockPot that morning before you left. Or maybe you didn’t forget. Maybe you just were in too much of a rush, so you left it undone.

So, it’s 7:30, and your kids are whining that they’re hungry. You’re too frazzled to want to listen to it, so you stop by the nearest McDonald’s and pick up some chicken nuggets and fries. Dinner problem solved, but you’ve neglected a very important component of wellness — the physical. And, let’s be honest, a little while after you eat that fast food, you’re going to feel really bad emotionally because fast food consumption almost always leads to a sugar crash.

How do I know this?

Unfortunately, I’ve learned from experience — a LOT of experience. Getting rushed can lead to poor health choices, which can lead to some other negative emotional and physical effects.

Total Wellness Is Just That — Total!

As you can see, one of these wellness aspects can affect all the others. Balancing wellness may take a little time and practice, but you can do it. Just take it one day at a time — and when I say take it one day at a time, I mean SCHEDULE one day at a time. Concentrate on one wellness component per day until you get in the habit of doing them all, and then you can more easily incorporate all of them into the same day.

Here’s a sample schedule:

MONDAY: Emotional wellness — Make a list of 20 things you are grateful for and meditate on those things for five minutes in the morning before you start your day.

TUESDAY: Spiritual wellness — Take the first 30 minutes of your day and read a few chapters of the Bible. Then pray about what you read and ask God to show you what it is you need to apply to your life from that passage. There’s always something, so be sure to wait a moment in silence and listen for His answer. If you seek Him, you will find Him.

WEDNESDAY: Physical wellness — Buy a multivitamin and incorporate it into your morning routine. This literally takes about ten seconds, so you have no excuse not to do it. You can even set reminders on your phone so you won’t forget.

THURSDAY: Mental wellness — Take about 10 to 15 minutes to write out some of your most important goals — for the day, week, and month. The critical thing here is to make the goals REALISTIC. You want these goals to be something you can achieve quickly. Instant (or near-instant) success leads to greater feelings of competence — and greater mental wellness.

FRIDAY, SATURDAY, and SUNDAY: Pick three of the things you did on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and do them all on these days. By now, you should start to see how easy it is to make healthier lifestyle choices.

balancing wellness

In future blog posts, we’ll look in more detail at how we can achieve each of these types of wellness.

Tell me: What steps are YOU currently taking to achieve wellness?

Not All Paraffin Wax Is Bad


food grade paraffin wax

Paraffin wax has been used for over 150 years to make candles because it results in more even burning and less unwanted odor, and it is much cheaper to make because it comes from petroleum oil.

However, because it comes from petroleum oil, there are some dangers attached to it. Low grade paraffin wax has not gone through much refining, so it contains much higher amounts of serious toxins like aromatic olefins, benzene, or acrolein than does higher quality (more refined) paraffin wax. The highest grade paraffin wax is known as food grade paraffin wax, which is widely used by the food industry. In food ingredient lists, paraffin waz is labeled aliphatic hydrocarbons. You can often find it in chewing gum and even hard candies. determine the grade of the paraffin product. While even food grade paraffin wax is not free from toxic ingredients, it does contain much smaller traces than the cheaper, lower quality paraffin wax (which is what most mass-produced candles contain, along with harmful pigments and dyes that include lead).

benefits paraffin wax


Because of the potential harmful effects of paraffin wax use in candles, many candle companies have shied away from using it. Jewelscent, for example, uses soy wax in its candles (which is not entirely free from concern, given the Monsanto Roundup application to most of the nation’s soybean fields). But Gold Canyon Candles proudly uses food grade paraffin wax to make all its candles, and they do guarantee a Happy Fragrance Experience for all their customers.

gold canyon candles

Paraffin wax, in addition to allowing for a more even burn than other types of wax, ensures a superior fragrance delivery, which is pretty important for anyone who loves scented candles like I do. Gold Canyon Candles are gorgeous, and I really have no qualms at all about burning them in my house. Visit my site today to explore the beauty of Gold Canyon Candles!




Put a Little Mud (Mask) on Your Face

glacial marine mud mask

💫Introducing you to a fabulous NuSkin product – one of the company’s bestsellers, and for good reason. It does some amazing things for your skin. 
Suffer from:
💥Uneven skin tone
💥Dry skin?
If you have problem skin, you definitely need to try this mask. It contains natural sea clay, so you can visibly see the dirt and oil being pulled from your skin, leaving your skin fresh and hydrated!
Here’s the full benefit list.
  • Minute colloidal particles act as emulsifying agents by forming barriers around and removing oily particles from skin.
  • Includes more than 50 skin-nurturing minerals and trace elements.
  • Softens and purifies the skin.
  • Hydrates by attracting water.
  • Helps draw out impurities and toxins. (I’m going to take this next part direct from the company web site, because it’s very scientific and technical, and I don’t really understand all of it. It sounds good, though!) “The basic molecular structure of Glacial Marine Mud is negatively charged. Positive ions including cations that naturally occur in the mud and positively charged impurities bind to the mud’s negative charge and can then be rinsed away leaving skin cleansed and detoxified.”
  • Safety–allergy–dermatologist tested.

This mud mask also works great to heal bee stings, warts, and scars!
I know someone who loves this so much she’s been using it twice a week with some astonishing results. Her enthusiasm for the product inspired me to check it out. I think it’s awesome, so I wanted to share it with all of you.
nuskin mud mask review
Since this is a wellness blog, you might be wondering if this ingredients in this mask are at all harmful. Here’s the full ingredient list:
Sea Salt, Water (Aqua), Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Dehydroacetic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Benzoic Acid, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol
Want to know how safe (or not) these ingredients are? Check out this database. It’s pretty awesome! There appear to be some health concerns with a few of the ingredients (some of the ones at the end of the  list, so there’s not as much of them in there), but the problems are negligible. As I mentioned before, this product passed allergy and safety tests, so I think it’s going to be perfectly safe for the majority of people to use it. 
What are you waiting for? Visit my NuSkin website to learn more and place your order today!

Why I Joined Norwex


About a year ago, I began making my own deodorant/antiperspirant using baking soda, coconut oil, and essential oils for scent. Why?

Because I started to get concerned about the link between breast cancer and aluminum in most store-bought deodorants. Now, I don’t have a history of breast cancer, and I know correlation doesn’t equal causation. But I thought it couldn’t hurt to try to break away from it, anyway. And I’ve never regretted that decision.

It also made me start wondering about the other stuff I’m using on a daily basis. For example, Lysol kills germs (which is good), but it also kills spiders – I know this from experience. Do I really want my children around it that much? Um, NO!

That’s why I was so excited to find out about this online shopping club (kinda like Sam’s) from a Facebook friend that gives you access to healthier, less chemical-laden household products that can actually save you money (more on that later). And you can join for just $1 until October 31. Want to know more? Just ask! And keep an eye out for more information on this blog because I’m loving this shopping club more and more everyday.

In fact, I’m loving it so much, I had to give it a shout out on Facebook, which prompted another Facebook friend to introduce me to Norwex.

Now, I’d heard of Norwex before, but frankly I was skeptical that Norwex was as great as everyone said it was. After all, how could anything get clean with just a cloth and WATER? Still, when Crystal invited me to her house to see some of the products, I thought it couldn’t hurt to see what it was all about.

norwex cleaning products enviro

Well, when she showed me the products and let me even try them out myself (cleaning off my filthy car windows, no less), I was HOOKED. She mentioned something about me becoming a consultant myself, and I toyed with the idea for a bit, but I brushed it to the back of my mind. I’ve got a lot going on in my life at the moment (as you’ll soon see, if you follow this blog for any length of time), and I just couldn’t justify spending $10 on yet ANOTHER business opportunity.

At least, that’s the way I was thinking until last night when I watched a movie called STINK that solidified the importance of avoiding as many chemicals as possible in our everyday lives. You must, must, MUST watch this movie. Everyone in the world should watch this movie – even my eight-year-old daughter agrees!

Still haunted this morning by what I learned by watching that movie last night, I took the Norwex plunge, and I’m super excited. I only wish I hadn’t waited so long to do it.

Interested in joining me on this newest path along my wellness journey? Visit my website at https://mishaelwitty.norwex.biz. And keep watching this blog for more wellness-related news, tips, and thoughts. You owe it to yourself (and your family) to learn as much as you can about how to protect yourself from harmful chemicals. You may not change the world, but you can changed YOUR world, and that’s reason enough to start!