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Xylitol FAQs

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sweetener that occurs naturally. It can be found, for instance, in berries, fruit, vegetables and mushrooms. Xylitol also occurs in human tissues.

Where does it come from?

Corncobs and birch trees are the main sources for commercially produced xylitol. However, there are no residual corn products in the xylitol. Naturally Sweet's main xylitol product comes from corn from China whilst our birch product is sourced from the USA. We source our xylitol from the world's largest supplier of the product so customers can be assured of its quality and taste, compared to other inferior brands. We source our corn from a spectacular region of China where time’s stood still in the fields for generations. We marry that history and respect for the land with an ultra-progressive and eco-friendly processing plant to provide a perfect blend of tradition and technology. The corn farmers remain strictly and proudly non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) and use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. They hand plant their corn between rows of vegetables and trees, rotating crops every season - ensuring top soil quality.

How does Xylitol differ from other sweeteners?

Strictly speaking, xylitol is not actually a sugar, but a sugar alcohol. It differs from other sweeteners such as sorbitol, fructose and glucose because the xylitol molecule has five, instead of six, carbon atoms. Most bacterias are unable to make use of such sugars. This is one reason why xylitol is so effective in preventing caries.

What is the calorie content compared to sugar?

Xylitol has 40% fewer calories than "normal" table sugar.

What is the carbohydrate content compared to sugar?

Xylitol contains the same amount of carbohydrates as "normal" table sugar. On some nutrition panels however, Xylitol is shown to have 75% fewer carbohydrates as sugar since its content can be classed as “unavailable carbohydrates”. This is because most of the Xylitol eaten passes through to the lower intestine and is not converted to glucose. Therefore only one quarter of the weight of Xylitol can be counted as carbohydrate. Some nutrition panels subtract sugar alcohols completely from the carbohydrate count. For the sake of complete transparency we include the full potential amount of carbohydrates on out nutrition panels.

What is the Xylitol to sugar exchange ratio?

The xylitol to sugar ratio is 1:1.

Is it GMO free?

Yes, our Naturally Sweet products are of the highest possible quality and are all GMO free. This may not be the case with other inferior brands.

What does it taste and look like?

Xylitol tastes and looks just like sugar. If you were to put a small amount on your tongue by itself, you would notice a very pleasant cooling minty aftertaste as being the only difference from sugar. This pleasant aftertaste is one of the many reasons why food manufacturers overseas love to use xylitol in their products.

Can you use it to cook?

Yes, xylitol is interchangeable with sugar for most cooking applications. Since yeast cannot metabolize it, xylitol will not work when baking breads or anything that contains yeast. Because Xylitol has anti-fungal properties, it cannot be used in baked goods that require yeast to make the dough rise. However, xylitol can be used in a glaze or as a filling. Its anti-fungal properties can be beneficial because they act as a preservative, greatly increasing shelf life without the addition of artificial preservatives.

 Xylitol does not crystallize as much as table sugar; therefore it does not do well when making peanut brittle or other hard candy.

Although xylitol is the same sweetness of sugar, we recommend that you try a little less xylitol to what you would use of sugar and then adjust from there. Some people use less and some like a bit more sweetness - it is frequently an individual taste. Look at the book "Xylitol - An Amazing Discovery for Health" to get the most out of your xylitol recipes or visit our blog for recipe ideas.

As a guide, here is a table of the best use of xylitol, taken from the book "Xylitol - An Amazing Discovery for Health":

Xylitol Usage In Foods

Baking - Breads  Χ  
Baking - Other    Χ
Sweetener - coffee and tea    Χ
Sweetener - Cold Drinks  Χ  
Sweetener - Cereal and Fruit    Χ
Hard Candy  Χ  
Caramel/syrups/taffy    Χ

What about in tea and coffee?

Again it is an individual's taste preference. Many of our customers will use only half the amount of xylitol to what they would normally use of sugar.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Dental caries (tooth decay) is a multifactorial disease process. Enamel, the mostly inorganic hard outer tooth layer, is dissolved (demineralized) by acids produced from sugars by plaque bacteria. Bacteria can more rapidly invade and eat away the inner dentin layer because it is softer and contains more organic material. The tooth surface is in a dynamic state of flux between demineralization (destruction) and remineralization (repair). Acid conditions (lower pH) favour the loss of calcium and phosphate from the tooth while neutral or alkaline (higher pH) conditions help to replace minerals.

Individuals susceptible to tooth decay tend to have less buffering capacity against plaque acid. Their saliva pH tends to drop lower and recover more slowly. Demineralization predominates at lower pH, beginning at around 5.7. Thicker plaque helps to hold acid against teeth and leads to surface destruction that begins in localized sheltered areas.

Tooth decay occurs at the intersection of the necessary elements: bacterial plaque acids dissolving a susceptible tooth over time. Xylitol interferes with all of the destructive elements and helps to tilt the balance in favor of dental protective factors.

Can Xylitol Help Prevent Tooth Decay?

Yes, xylitol is non-acidogenic and non-cariogenic. Xylitol is essentially non-fermentable and therefore cannot be converted to acids by oral bacteria (primarily strep mutans, the main bacteria responsible for tooth decay). Xylitol can even be left on the teeth overnight and not cause any damage. With proper use, xylitol can stop the formation of tooth decay (cariostatic).

When you take xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour, is stopped. Because the bacteria in the mouth causing caries are unable to ferment xylitol in their metabolism, their growth is reduced. The number of acid-producing lactobacilli and streptococci may fall as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not fall. After taking xylitol, the bacteria do not adsorb well on the surface of the teeth and the amount of plaque decreases.

Research has shown that the use of xylitol also helps correct incipient damage to the enamel. Saliva in itself protects the mouth and teeth. Stimulated saliva in particular contains all the components needed to correct incipient caries. If sugar is only taken a couple of times a day, the saliva can do the job alone. But most people take sugar so often that the mouth's own defensive mechanisms are not enough.

Saliva containing xylitol is more alkaline than saliva stimulated by other sugar products. After taking xylitol products, the concentration of basic amino acids and ammonia in saliva and plaque may rise, and plaque pH rises as well. When pH is above 7, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to precipitate into those parts of enamel where they are lacking. Thus, soft, calcium-deficient enamel sites begin to harden again.

Can Xylitol Reverse Tooth Decay?

Yes, to some degree. Xylitol is not merely an inert bystander but can exert an active counter force to decay (anticariogenic). This depends upon how the xylitol is used. The delivery method, the amount, the timing, and the frequency are important. (Kept in the mouth for at least 5 minutes after meals and snacks, 4-5 times daily) Xylitol can enhance the remineralization or healing process. This remineralisation happens best in small decay spots just beginning in the enamel. Larger holes won’t go away and will still require a filling or restoration, but they can harden and become less sensitive.

Is Xylitol safe?

Yes it is. JECFA, a joint expert committee of WHO and FAO, confirmed in 1983 the fact, already known by scientists, that xylitol is a safe sweetener for foods. Also the FDA confirmed this fact in 1986. In Australia, it is endorsed by Food Standards Australia & New Zealand.

Note: Xylitol products can be dangerous to animals and should not be given to them.

What about children?

Xylitol is safe for children of all ages.

How is Xylitol metabolised?

Xylitol is easily metabolised by the body. A small portion is slowly absorbed through the small intestine and carried in the portal blood supply to the liver, where it is converted to glucose. Because of the slowness of absorption, the majority of xylitol (approximately ¾ of that consumed) moves down to the lower intestine. There it is metabolised by friendly bacteria to short-chain fatty acids, which are mostly returned to the liver for oxidation, providing energy.

Can diabetics and hypoglycemics safely use it?

Xylitol is safe for people with diabetes and hypoglycemia because it gets into the cells without insulin and can be used to make glucose; therefore, it has a minimal insulin response. The glycemic index of xylitol is 7. If in doubt, consult your doctor.

What about using Xylitol in a low carbohydrate diet?

As only about one quarter of consumed xylitol becomes glucose, it is stated to have 75% less carbohydrate than table sugar. Therefore it is suitable for use in a low carbohydrate diet. If in doubt, consult your doctor.

How much Xylitol should one eat per day?

The anti-cariogenic effect of xylitol stems partly from the affected bacteria population in the mouth and partly from the properties of saliva. Xylitol is a natural and convenient way of supplementing daily dental care. Research shows that a mere 5-10g per day is enough. In practice, this means 5-8 pieces of chewing gum a day or a combination with other xylitol rich products (e.g. toothpaste). The gum should be chewed immediately after a meal or a snack. If you eat more snacks, you of course need more frequent help from xylitol.

Is it dangerous to swallow the chewing gum?

No it is not, but xylitol chewing gum is not meant to be swallowed. In case it gets swallowed, it will be transported naturally among other food through intestines. The best way to dispose of your chewing gum is to wrap it in a piece of paper and throw it in a rubbish bin.

How often should I use it?

Consistency is important, use daily. If used only occasionally or even as often as once a day, xylitol may NOT be effective, regardless of the amount.

Frequency is the key. Use xylitol at least three, and preferably 5 times every day. The anticariogenic effect of xylitol stems partly from the affected bacteria population in the mouth and partly from the properties of saliva. Xylitol is a natural and convenient way of supplementing daily dental care.

Use immediately after eating and clearing the mouth by swishing water, if possible. The pieces should be chewed immediately after a meal or a snack. If you eat more snacks, you of course need more frequent help from xylitol. Between meals and snacks, replace ordinary chewing gum, breath mints, or breath spray with comparable xylitol products.

Should you avoid sugar and only use Xylitol?

Dentists recognize the futility of advice to avoid sugars. It is behaviorally unrealistic and besides, any fermentable carbohydrate can contribute to tooth decay. Even people who claim they eat "no sugar" may expose their teeth to significant sources from honey, malt syrup, rice syrup, fruits and even medications. Given enough time, salivary enzymes can break down starch into simple sugars.

Replacing all dietary sugars, or even just the "accessible" sugars in the diet with xylitol is expensive and impractical. Thankfully it is also unnecessary. Just a little bit of xylitol in chewing gum (or in a form that can be kept in contact with the teeth for awhile), is all that is needed to blunt the "acid attack" after eating.

Consistently using small amounts of xylitol tends to increase protective factors in saliva and help maintain pH in the safe range above 5.7. Oral pH becomes less acidic with continued xylitol use. There is more saliva with greater buffering capacity so demineralizing conditions seldom occur.

Because saliva productions decreases during sleep, xylitol should be used after late-night snacks or medications (syrups and chewable tablets often contain sugar).

How does Xylitol take care of a mouth dryness problem?

In terms of dental health, it is good to increase the salivary flow rate as often as possible, i.e. to secrete what is called stimulated saliva. The faster the saliva flow, the greater its buffer capacity, that is, its power of resisting the drops in saliva pH and thus in plaque pH.

In stimulating saliva secretion xylitol increases the amount of saliva in the mouth. At the same time it increases saliva's initiate chemical capacity for reducing the harmful effects of bacteria.

Sucrose also stimulates saliva secretion, but even this increased salivary flow rate cannot compensate for the effect of the acids simultaneously produced by the cariogenic bacteria. So plaque pH falls and cavities start forming.

Chewing also helps promote saliva secretion. That's why chewing gum is an almost perfect way of taking xylitol from the dentist's point of view.

What is the recommended daily intake?

There is not a recommended daily intake. Simply use it as a sweetener.

How should I store Xylitol?

Xylitol is hygroscopic (attracts moisture) and should therefore be sealed after use. Our Naturally Sweet Xylitol comes in zip-lock resealable bags.

What is the shelf life?

The shelf life of Naturally Sweet Xylitol is 2 years from date of manufacture.

Are there any side-effects to Xylitol?

Xylitol has been examined for many years. The only known side effect is that it can cause a laxative effect if too much is used at once. We recommend that you introduce xylitol into your diet over a period of 1-2 weeks initially.

Can it assist in the prevention of candida?

Xylitol has been shown to be effective in inhibiting Candida Albicans, a serious systemic yeast problem, and other harmful gut bacteria including H. Pylori, implicated in periodontal disease, bad breath, gastric and duodenal ulcers, and even stomach cancer.

How is the Quality Assured?

All Xylitol factories require in-house lab testing before distribution. Then, to ensure quality, distributors who bring it into the Australia have it tested independently.

Specifically, we test for the presence of heavy-metals, arsenic, bacterial contaminants such as salmonella and e coli, as well as yeasts and mold. All products must be free and clear of these contaminants before we put our name on them.

We require a detailed Certificate of Analysis on every batch of xylitol we receive to be sure it meets our strict quality standards. We’re happy to show you examples of the certificates.

For a definitive article on "Finding The Best Xylitol Products" click here

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