Young chemist Miguel Lariagoiti found a solution for the millions of people affected by diabetes by turning the organic waste in corn cobs into a sweetener.
In addition to the discovery, the innovative sugar substitute Xilinat is part of a successful sustainable venture that represents a healthy alternative and a unique way to tackle climate change.
It wants to be a substitute in sugar consumption to reduce the main diseases: cardiovascular, diabetes, obesity, fatty liver, kidney stones, kidney failure and cavities.
To date, various scientific studies (UNAM, IPN and Cell magazine) have shown that they are not “inert” to the body: saccharin, aspartame, stevia and other non-nutritive sweeteners, such as sucralose, can alter the microbiome – balance of gastrointestinal microorganisms – and affect glucose tolerance.
The lack of natural sweeteners, which did not have side effects, moved Miguel because when he entered university his father was diagnosed with diabetes and his father’s health worsened, he did not take care of his diet and he had to consume sweeteners. Didn’t like the taste.
The condition made the chemical engineer think of a resource to help his father and others suffering from the condition. Thus, in 2018, when he was 28, he became the founder of Xilinat, a company that developed a sugar substitute that is not harmful to health and has a positive social and environmental impact.
This year, the makers of Xilinat maintain that their product has a taste similar to sugar and various health benefits: It helps in the absorption of calcium in the bones, It has few calories, It is completely safe for diabetics Because it doesn’t require insulin to metabolize, it prevents cavities and can be part of a diet like keto or low carb ketogenic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies xylitol as a safe sweetener for people with diabetes (types 1, 2 and gestational), because it has such a low glycemic index (GI 7), that it lowers blood sugar levels. prevents it from growing.
The story of how Lariagoiti managed to specify a sweetener suitable for prediabetes and diabetics is undoubtedly fascinating. He first thought of making a pill that would make food taste sweeter. However, the Japanese came forward with a tablet used to drink sake. Feeling a bit lost, he was called by his sister, who was studying to become a dentist and who introduced him to a product called xylitol. He used it on children. Instead of putting fluoride on them, he applied this solution, because one of its properties is to protect teeth from cavities.
This substance attracted the attention of Lariagoiti, who later used it. Meanwhile, he advanced in chemical engineering courses and met Lorena Pedraza, a professional teacher with 25 years of experience in the use of agricultural residues. Along with a chemical engineer, who is also the first partner of the company, he started with the transformation of organic waste.
The sweetener’s inventor recalls that “we ferment the corn cob and the result of this process is xylitol, which we then crystallize for sale.” The basic process for obtaining xylitol uses birch wood as a raw material and extracts a carbohydrate called xylose, which humans cannot metabolize. A chemical reaction is used to convert it into xylitol. In summary, Miguel holds a patent that allows him to recycle agricultural waste such as corn cobs to produce xylitol through fermentation.
In Xilinat company, production costs are reduced by 40% because instead of birch they use shelled ears with a fermentation process that reduces energy and raw material costs. The production cost of birch xylitol is about $3 or $3.5 per kg, while that of Xilinat is between $2 and $2.4.
What is relevant about invention and entrepreneurship is its social impact. The company works with 13 families from San Bernardino Tlaxcalancingo, Puebla and San Miguel Topilejo in the Tlalpan Mayor’s Office. A little over 63 are in charge of providing the cobs, of which seven tons of the raw material are needed, for which they are paid $500 to produce one can of xylitol. This year the company has set itself a target of selling twelve tonnes of xylitol, for which they will need 36 tonnes of corn on the cob.
Zilinat, for example, maintains a campaign in favor of a more sustainable sector, with the clear aim of reducing the environmental footprint and not compromising the natural resources of future generations. Through the implementation of regenerative agriculture workshops aimed at restoring two hectares of agricultural land in Topilejo and the State of Mexico territory, it also contributes to avoid to some extent the burning of organic waste in the open field.
Another reality is early caries in children which is largely related to sugar intake; There is no doubt that if sugar is consumed frequently and if it remains in the mouth for a long period of time, the risk of tooth decay increases. In Mexico, one million children suffer from cavities, so for every Zilinat bag sold, five pesos will be allocated to donate 500 dental kits to the children of Mexico City’s 16 mayors.
In 2017, Xilinat was included in the list of top innovators under the age of 35 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Four years after its founding, Xilinat already sells on various internet portals, health food stores and some boutiques, maintaining itself as an enterprise created by Mexican scientists and researchers to solve urgent public health and environmental care problems. gives the answer.
However, Lariagoitei knows that one of the main obstacles in introducing this type of product to Mexican society is economic. His argument is very logical, because unfortunately this type of solution is only accessible to 30 or 35% of the population.
Aware of obtaining the natural sweetener Xilinat, which, in addition to having a taste similar to sugar, prevents and controls type 1, 2 and gestational diabetes, this entrepreneur set out to achieve the industrialization of a product that would bring many benefits to Mexican society. remains passionate.
Researchers at Hunan Agricultural University (China) applied a type of diet called Chinese Medical Nutrition Therapy, which involved five days of fasting, consuming 840 kilocalories daily at a controlled time, followed by ten days The food was eaten in the usual way.
Nearly 90% of 36 volunteers with diabetes, including taking medications to lower blood sugar and insulin, were able to reduce their medication and 55% saw their disease improve after taking their medication for at least a year. was able to shut down. year.
Among trial participants, the average weight loss was about 12 pounds, compared to a 200-gram drop in a comparison group eating a normal diet.
Study author Dongbo Liu affirms that “diabetes is not a lifelong disease,” but “it can go away if patients lose weight by changing their diet and exercise habits.”
Studies show that losing between 5 and 10% of body weight has a huge metabolic benefit. Intermittent fasting may appeal to many and the important thing is to lose weight and keep it off, but it must be done under the supervision of a doctor.