Dr. Kumar Pati, USA


Xylitol is a sugar alcohol sweetener used as a naturally occurring sugar substitute to help prevent cavities.  It is found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables, including various berries, corn husks, oats, and muschrooms,  It can be extracted from corn fiber, birch, raspberries, plums, and corn.  Xylitol is roughly as sweet as sucrose with only two-thirds the food energy.   It is equal in sweetness and volume to sugar.  Its granular form can be used in many ways similar to sugar, such as an ingredient in beverages and baking.


Xylitol is currently approved for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and oral health products in more than 35 countries, including theUnited Statesas a direct food additive in foods for special dietary uses.   Xylitol is used in foods such as chewing gum, gum drops and hard candy, and in pharmaceuticals and oral health products such as throat lozenges, cough syrups, children’s chewable multivitamins, toothpastes and mouthwashes.


Possessing approximately 40% less food energy, xylitol is low-calorie alternative to table sugar.  Absorbed more slowly than sugar, it does not contribute to high blood sugar levels or the resulting hyperglycemia caused by insufficient insulin response.   Xylitol also has potential as a treatment for osteoporosis.   A group of Finnish researchers has found that dietary xylitol prevents weakening of bones in laboratory rats, and actually improves bone density.


Studies have shown that xylitol chewing gum can help prevent ear infections (acute otitis media);  the act of chewing and swallowing assists with the disposal of earwax and clearing the middle ear, whilst the presence of xylitol prevents the growth of bacteria in the Eustachian tubes (auditory tubes or pharyngotympanic tubes) which connect the nose and ear.   A recent report suggest that consumption of xylitol may help control oral infections of Candida Yeast;  in contrast, galactic, glucose, and sucrose may increase proliferation.


Xylitol is not only safe for pregnant and nursing women, but studies show that regular use significantly reduces the probability of transmitting Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which is responsible for tooth decay, from mother to child during the first two years of life by as much as 80%.  Generally, for the amount to xylitol to be at decay-preventing levels, it must be listed as the first ingredient.  Health food stores can be a good resource

for xylitol containing products.  Additionally, several companies provide xylitol products for distribution over the internet.


Xylitol gum or mints used 3-5 times daily, for a total intake of5 grams, is considered optimal.  Because frequency and duration of exposure is important, gum should be chewed for approximately 5 minutes and mints should be allowed to dissolve.  As xylitol is digested slowly in the large intestine, it acts much like fiber and large amounts can lead to soft stools or have a laxative effect.


Xylitol has no know toxicity in humans.  In one study, the participants consumed a diet containing a monthly average of1.5 kgof xylitol with a maximum daily intake of430 gwith no apparent ill effects.  Like most sugar alcohols, it has a laxative effect because sugar alcohols are not fully broken down during digestion; albeit one-tenth the strength of sorbitol.


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