What is Xylitol (E967)?
The world of sugar substitutes is constantly evolving, and one such player is Xylitol (E967). Xylitol (E967) is a sugar alcohol, often used as a sugar substitute in various food products including candies, gums, and beverages [1,2]. It naturally occurs in small amounts in fruits and vegetables like plums, strawberries, and mushrooms [2,3]. However, the Xylitol used in food and dental products is typically derived and produced from birch wood, corn cobs, or sugarcane .
Purported Health Implications of Xylitol
Dental Health: Multiple studies have found Xylitol to exhibit reductions in risk of tooth decay and cavities . It inhibits the growth of harmful oral bacteria and promotes a healthy pH balance in the mouth by inhibiting acid production . However, these studies are mostly based on the use of Xylitol in chewing gum; clinicians may recommend Xylitol to only those patients with moderate to high risk of developing dental caries .
Blood Sugar Control: Xylitol has a low calorific content and low glycemic index, meaning it has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels and may be suitable for diabetic individuals . It has been shown to be more effective than Erythritol as a suitable sugar substitute for individuals with diabetes, by suppressing hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), improving glucose tolerance, and improving insulin secretion .
Antioxidant effects: Xylitol has also been indicated to possess antioxidant potential against the oxidative stress associated with Type 2 Diabetes . Studies have indicated that the correct dosage of Xylitol may be used as a potential functional food additive to help alleviate complications associated with Type 2 Diabetes, such as protecting against or restoring liver dysfunction .
Laxative effect: Due to Xylitol having a laxative effect when consumed in excess, it is typically recommended to not be the sole sweetener in products such as beverages, as it is likely to exceed its recommended single intake dose .
Nausea, bloating, watery faeces: A 50 g dose of Xylitol is shown to have more significant symptoms of nausea, bloating, and watery faeces than sucrose or Erythritol [8,9].
Recommendations for Safe Consumption
Dental Products: Xylitol is often used in chewing gum and toothpaste for its dental benefits in reducing risk of caries. Using these products as part of your oral hygiene routine can contribute to better dental health if you have a moderate to high risk of developing dental caries.
Daily Intake: The single dose of Xylitol typically tolerated in healthy humans without the increased risk of diarrhoea typically ranges from 10 - 30 g, accounting for individual variability and tolerance . The Food and Drug Administration classifies Xylitol as generally recognised as safe when used in accordance with good manufacturing practice, and has not established an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) value .
Moderation: While Xylitol is generally safe, excessive consumption can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, including bloating and diarrhoea. Therefore, it is important to limit consumption of Xylitol in your everyday diet, instead prioritising whole foods. If you have specific health concerns or dietary considerations, consult with healthcare professionals for personalised guidance.
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Msomi NZ, Erukainure OL, Salau VF, Olofinsan KA, Islam MdS. Comparative effects of xylitol and erythritol on modulating blood glucose; inducing insulin secretion; reducing dyslipidemia and redox imbalance in a type 2 diabetes rat model. Food Science and Human Wellness [Internet]. 2023 Nov 1 [cited 2023 Jul 1];12(6):2052–60. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453023000757
Msomi NZ, Erukainure OL, Salau VF, Olofinsan KA, Islam MS. Xylitol improves antioxidant, purinergic and cholinergic dysfunction, and lipid metabolic homeostasis in hepatic injury in type 2 diabetic rats. Journal of Food Biochemistry [Internet]. 2022 Apr 1 [cited 2023 Oct 17];46(4):e14040. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35060133/
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Food and Drug Administration. CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 [Internet]. www.accessdata.fda.gov. 2023 [cited 2023 Sep 1]. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=172.395
We do our best to source robust information from a number of credible sources. There is, however, a large amount of information on various aspects of nutritional elements along with claims in terms of their contribution to helping in body health which may contradict the above.