Dr. Michelle Jorgensen

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Is Xylitol Safe?  Truths about Xylitol in Mouth Care & Other Products

IS XYLITOL SAFE?

In this blog post, we get to the bottom of the question: is xylitol safe?

We’ll explore the evidence in this article, breaking down the latest research.

Is Xylitol Natural?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance.

Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar alcohol. It is naturally occurring in many fruits and berries, vegetables, mushrooms, and oats, as well as nutritive fibers such as husks, corncobs, and plant stalks.(1,2)

There are no proteins or DNA strands in Xylitol

…which means the product is the same regardless of the source. 

Any chemist will confirm that it is a 5-carbon carbohydrate and that all carbon and hydrogen atoms are the same. 

Can Xylitol Affect the Oral Microbiome?

Yes, xylitol does affect the oral microbiome…

…this is true…

…but in a positive way!

A large review of many studies found that xylitol in normal amounts decreases Mutans Streptococci (MS) bacteria. (3)

This is the bacteria that causes dental cavities.

So yes, it changes the oral microbiome by decreasing harmful bacteria and improving oral health.

A large review of human trials concluded “Xylitol consumption is likely to decrease MS counts but it may not change the overall microbiota.” 

Another study also found some increase and decrease in bacterial populations…

…but once again all the changes were positive.

They conclude, “In conclusion, chewing xylitol gum would benefit cariogenic and periodontal bacterial reduction in the oral cavity, which could help to prevent the diseases related to these bacteria.” (4) 

And again another study concluded that “Xylitol was found to be an effective strategy as a self-applied caries preventive agent.” (5)

Can Xylitol Affect the Gut Microbiome?

Yes, xylitol also affects the gut microbiome…

…however, the effects are beneficial! 

Some of the research findings with xylitol use are(6):

  • Less sinus and ear infections. 
  • Improved immune strength
  • Reduced skin inflammation. 
  • Improved health of good gut bacteria and used as a prebiotic.
  • Reduced unhealthy bacteria and yeasts like candida.
  • Relief of constipation.
  • Improved bone health. 
  • Help with weight by helping you feel full. 
  • Lowered cholesterol

Xylitol is Metabolized by the Body Differently than Sugar or Glucose.

This is true and good for the body.  Xylitol is absorbed from the small intestine by passive diffusion and is mostly metabolized in the liver.(7) 

It has been used in patients with diabetes as a sweetener in place of other sugars. The results of a recent study show that xylitol “can be consumed safely with regard to glucose absorption and can be used as sugar alternatives, even by patients with diabetes, as they do not affect glucose homeostasis.” (8)

The Amount of Xylitol in a Product or Study is Important to Pay Attention To

It is important to look at the amount of xylitol being used in testing and products… 

Some of the negative findings on xylitol come from studies using very large amounts of xylitol, up to 10-20 grams per day.  

In my tooth powder, you may get up to .16 grams or 1% of the xylitol used in these studies per day… 

…and that’s the amount if you swallow all of the powder.  

That small amount of xylitol isn’t going to harm your body or microbiome . . . and most likely it will help with a lot of things!

References