What is Xylitol
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol considered less potent than actual sugar. It is found in fruits such as plums, strawberries, and raspberries. Xylitol is used as a sweetener in some “sugarless” gums and candies, as well as being praised safe for diabetics. There is plenty of evidence proving xylitol’s tooth-friendly benefits, namely its ability to prevent tooth decay by inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause cavities, such as Streptococcus mutans.
It is also possibly effective for reducing episodes of ear infections (bacterial) in preschool children.
Keep in mind that the xylitol in chewing gum is not necessarily the same thing as xylitol in fruits or vegetables. The xylitol is created by extracting sugar crystals from the fruit. This is akin to the differences between synthetic vitamins and naturally occurring vitamins in foods.
Benefits of Xylitol
Many studies, including several under the auspices of the World Health Organization, have evaluated xylitol gums, toothpastes, and candies for preventing dental cavities, with good results. In all of these studies, xylitol users developed fewer cavities than those receiving either placebo or no treatment. Xylitol has also been studies and proven to provide some protection against gum disease.
Since xylitol is a naturally occurring food compound, it is “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) by the FDA and, therefore, exempt from the approval process mandatory for artificial substitutes regulated as food additives.
For prevention of cavities in adults and children, a wide range of doses has been used. Typically, doses are from 7 to 20 grams per day divided into three to five doses, usually given as candies or chewing gum that contact the gums.
There seems to be no long term safety data about the long term health effects of regularly consuming xylitol. Xylitol is believed to be safe, but doses higher than 30 g per day can cause stomach discomfort and possibly diarrhea.
Xylitol might inhibit bacteria growth in your mouth (and ear), but it is a processed sugar.
What You Should Know
- Low in sugar
- High in absorbable vitamins and minerals
- Contains fat-soluble vitamins in foods like:
- Wheat germ
- Raw/unpasteurized milk
- Pastured organ meats
- Sea foods