Xylitol how is it made

What is xylitol?


Xylitol is a type of carbohydrate called a sugar alcohol or polyol.

Xylitol is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It is also produced commercially from birch bark and corn cobs and is used as a sweetener.

Xylitol is a common ingredient in sugar-free chewing gum.

The safety of xylitol has been confirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.

Xylitol is known to inhibit the growth of plaque and oral bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes) in saliva.

Xylitol Basics

Xylitol (pronounced Zy-Li-Tall) is a carbohydrate called sugar alcohols or polyols. They are water-soluble compounds that occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is also produced commercially from birch bark and corn cobs and is used as a sweetener to replace the calories in carbohydrates and sugar. Xylitol has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in foods since 1963.

The name xylitol comes from the word "xylose" or "wood sugar" because it was originally made from the birch tree. It has a refreshing sensation in the mouth when consumed. For this reason, xylitol is a preferred ingredient in sugar-free gum and other oral health products such as mints, mouthwash and toothpaste.

Xylitol how is it made

Xylitol and Health

Xylitol is chemically similar to sugar, but with fewer calories; while sugar contains approximately 4 calories per gram, xylitol has only 2.4 calories. Although it is lower in calories, xylitol is as sweet as sugar. This makes xylitol unique, as most sugar alcohols are not as sweet as sugar.

Xylitol is known to inhibit the growth of plaque and oral bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes) in saliva. The action of chewing gum promotes the flow of saliva, which naturally protects the teeth from cavity-causing bacteria. Based on extensive scientific evidence, both the American Dental Association and the FDA have recognized the oral health benefits of xylitol.

Other health benefits of xylitol stem from the difference in its chemical structure compared to sugar. Unlike sugar, xylitol is slowly and incompletely absorbed in the small intestine. This makes it and other sugar alcohols helpful for people with diabetes. Once absorbed, it can be used as energy with little or no insulin, which means little effect on blood sugar.

Bacteria in the large intestine ferment any unabsorbed xylitol that passes through the small intestine. Because of this, overconsumption can produce abdominal gas and discomfort. For those following a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols ( FODMAP ), monitor the food sources of xylitol since it is a polyol.

Recommended Intake

There are few formal recommendations for xylitol intake. The digestive response to xylitol consumption varies widely among adults, so there is no recommended minimum or maximum amount, although 20 to 70 grams per day is recommended for good tolerability. Some studies related to oral health suggest that at least 5 to 6 grams and 3 chews of gum or candy per day are needed. A recent review suggests that the effectiveness of xylitol in preventing dental caries in children is uncertain, but that doses above 4 grams per day have a greater effect. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) "supports the use of xylitol and other sugar alcohols as non-cariogenic sugar substitutes," but acknowledges inconsistent evidence of a significant reduction in dental caries in children.

Food sources of xylitol

Xylitol is naturally found in fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, raspberries, mushrooms and cauliflower. It is also found in other plant and agricultural materials such as birch bark and corn husks, which are sources of commercially produced xylitol that can be added to chewable multivitamins, chewing gum, hard candy, sugar-free gum, and medications. It is also found in oral health products such as mints, lozenges and cough syrups.

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