Is Xylitol Really Dangerous?

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a polyalcohol or sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and extracted from corn or birch wood to make a sweetener that is similar in taste to sugar but with about 40% fewer calories. Even though xylitol is extracted from natural sources, it goes through a process called sugar hydrogenation to become a shelf stable white powder for food and dental use.

Although it is not safe for dogs, it is widely used in chewing gum, oral health products and as a sugar substitute for those with diabetes or blood sugar related problems. Xylitol is even recommended in the natural health community and is in many anti-candida recipes and diets.

For the most part, sugar alcohols cause no appreciable changes in blood glucose or insulin in humans, and sorbitol and xylitol have not been found to raise blood glucose following consumption.

Read more about Xylitol here!

Xylitol's Oral Power

Although some plaque on your teeth is normal, excess plaque encourages your immune system to attack the bacteria in it. This can lead to inflammatory gum diseases like gingivitis.

These oral bacteria feed on glucose from food, but they can not use xylitol. As such, replacing sugar with xylitol reduces the available fuel for the harmful bacteria.

While these bacteria cannot use xylitol for fuel, they still ingest it. After absorbing xylitol, they are unable to take up glucose — meaning that their energy-producing pathway is clogged and they end up dying.

Xylitol Is Naturally Found In Nature

Xylitol is a natural sweetener, derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol can also help repair damage to the enamel.

Xylitol has a similar sweetness as regular sugar but contains 40% fewer calories:

  • Table sugar: 4 calories per gram
  • Xylitol: 2.4 calories per gram

Store-bought xylitol appears as a white, crystalline powder.

Since xylitol is a refined sweetener, it doesn't contain any vitamins, minerals or protein. In that sense, it provides only empty calories.

Xylitol can be processed from trees like birch or from a plant fiber called xylan. Xylitol contains zero fructose and has negligible effects on blood sugar and insulin.

Therefore, none of the harmful effects of sugar apply to xylitol.

Check out "Everything you need to know" about Xylitol here!

In Conclusion...

Unlike sugar, xylitol has negligible effects on blood sugar and insulin levels. When used in oral health products minimal consumption occurs. Issues can occur when Xylitol is abused and overused in foods and gum. As with anything, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, but rest assured Xylitol is a safe alternative to sugar and is proven to help reduce tooth decay.

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