You may have heard the name Xylitol thrown about lately, mostly as an ingredient in natural toothpaste and chewing gum but are you still wondering what it actually is and what’s so great about it?
Allow me to explain..
WHAT IS IT?
In a nutshell, Xylitol is a natural sweetener extracted from the Birch tree.
It surprised me to learn it is also used as a medicine to prevent middle ear infections in children as well as a dental aid to neutralise food acid after eating.
HOW DO YOU USE IT?
Xylitol is available in powder form, just like sugar (but has 40% less calories) as well as being an ingredient in gums, pastilles and lozenges. Many dentists recommend the use of Xylitol gum or mints. My sister who is visiting from Europe at the moment works in childcare/education and tells me in Scandinavia all the children take Xylitol ‘tablets’ after each meal to neutralise acid in Saliva in order to prevent tooth decay. It is common practice for all the children to have their own supply, and in instances that they don’t the child care centre provides it. This knowledge blew me away and prompted me to research as I had never heard of such a practice here in Australia!
Xylitol is also used as an excellent replacement for sugar with good reason! It’s glycemic index is 7 (sugar has a GI of 60-70, yes really!).
Xylitol also helps the digestive system absorb Calcium AND helps to fight the yeast Candida Albicans.
SO WHAT’S THE VERDICT?
In my mind I think it’s only a good thing and something we absolutely should be doing here, mainly as a proactive measure against tooth decay and gum problems.
WHERE CAN I GET SOME?
You can get Xylitol mints from Clean & Green here.
We also stock Xylitol-rich natural toothpaste, you can order yours here.
Here’s a list of studies about Xylitol.
Crapo PA. Use of alternative sweeteners in diabetic diet. Diabetes Care 1988;11:174-82.
Everything added to food in the US. US Food and Drug Administration, November 2011. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/ucm115326.htm
Gales MA, Nguyen TM. Sorbitol compared with xylitol in prevention of dental caries. Ann Pharmacother 2000;34:98-100.
Lee B, Sue D. Xylitol for prevention of dental caries. DICP 1989;23:691-2.
Makinen KK. Can the pentitol-hexitol theory explain the clinical observations made with xylitol? Med Hypotheses 2000;54:603-13.
Makinen KK. The rocky road of xylitol to its clinical application. J Dent Res 2000;79:1352-5.
Merck Index, 12th ed. Whitehouse Station: Merck Research Laboratories, 1996.
Soderling E, Isokangas P, Pienihakkinen K, Tenovuo J. Influence of maternal xylitol consumption on acquisition of mutans streptococci by infants. J Dent Res 2000;79:882-7.
Tapiainen T, Luotonen L, Kontiokari T, et al. Xylitol administered only during respiratory infections failed to prevent acute otitis media. Pediatrics 2002;109:E19.
Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Koskela M, Niemela M. Xylitol chewing gum in prevention of acute otitis media: double-blind, randomized trial. BMJ 1996;313:1180-4.
Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Niemela M. A novel use of xylitol sugar in preventing acute otitis media. Pediatrics 1998;102:879-84.