Xylitol

From Academic Kids

Xylitol, also called wood sugar, is a polyol used as a natural alternative sweetener and toothcare product. First derived from birch, and also found in raspberries and plums, it is probably most popular in Finland, where many sweets and candies are available in both sucrose and xylitol-sweetened varieties. The latter's market consists mostly of parents concerned about their children's teeth.

Xylitol, gram for gram, is roughly as sweet as sucrose, but contains 40% fewer calories. Its formula is C5H12O5, with relative mass 152.15 amu.

Contents

Medical applications

Dental care

In addition to discouraging tooth decay by replacing dietary sugars, xylitol may actively aid in restoring small caries (dental cavities). Recent research confirms a plaque-reducing effect and suggests that the compound, having some chemical properties similar to table sugar, attracts and then "starves" harmful microorganisms, allowing the mouth to remineralize damaged teeth with less interruption. The United States Army, acting on this data, will soon pack xylitol-sweetened gum in MREs (http://www.tradoc.army.mil/pao/TNSarchives/February04/023404.htm).

Diabetes

Xylitol is a low-calorie alternative to table sugar (sucrose) (approximately 40% fewer calories), and is absorbed more slowly than sugar; thus it doesn't contribute to a rapid rise in blood glucose and the resultant insulin response.

Osteoporosis

Xylitol also appears to have potential as a treatment for osteoporosis. A group of Finnish researchers have found that dietary xylitol prevents weakening of bones in laboratory rats, and actually improves bone density.12

Ear infection

Studies3 [1] (http://www.drgreene.com/21_837.html) 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 which connect the nose and ear. [2] (http://www.besttreatments.co.uk/btuk/conditions/12828.html)

Health concerns

Xylitol, like most sugar alcohols, can have mild laxative effects at high doses. It has no known toxicity; people have consumed as much as 400 grams daily for long periods with no ill effects.

References

  • 1 Mattila PT, Svanberg MJ, Jamsa T, Knuuttila ML (2002). Improved bone biomechanical properties in xylitol-fed aged rats. Metabolism 51(1):92-6. (online abstract (http://www.arclab.org/medlineupdates/abstract_11782878.html))
  • 2 Mattila, PT (1999). Dietary xylitol in the prevention of experimental osteoporosis: Beneficial effects on bone resorption, structure and biomechanics. Dissertation, Institute of Dentistry, University of Oulu. (online (http://herkules.oulu.fi/isbn951425158X/))
  • 3 Uhari M, et al. (1998). A novel use of xylitol sugar in preventing acute otitis media. Pediatrics, 102(4): 879–974.

See also

de:Xylitol ko:자일리톨 nl:Xylitol ja:キシリトール nn:Xylitol fi:Ksylitoli sv:Xylitol zh:木糖醇

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