Xylitol is a 5-carbon sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and produced in small amounts by the human body. Xylitol is also found in things like hardwood. Keep in mind that the xylitol in chewing gum is not necessarily the same thing as xylitol in fruits or vegetables because it has to be treated and processed in order to extract the sugar crystals from the fruit or vegetable. This is akin to the differences between synthetic vitamins and naturally occurring vitamins in foods. They are not the same thing.
How is Xylitol Made?
A search of patents online explains one process for making xylitol, tell me if this sounds healthy? You begin with some source material containing xylan. One commonly used source is corn imported from China.
1. First the xylan needs to be broken down in a process called acid hydrolyzing. The results of this process leave us with xylose and acetic acid. The process of hydrogenation is carried out at higher pressures and temperatures ranging from 158 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. Hydrogenation needs a catalyst, so a substance called Raney nickel can be used which is a powdered nickel-aluminium alloy.
2. The acetic acid needs to be removed as the material safety data sheet describes it as, “Very hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Hazardous in case of skin contact (corrosive, permeator), of eye contact (corrosive).”
3. Then the hydrolyzing acid and organic residues must be removed, this is done by heating the mixture and evaporating it.
4. The resulting syrup, now free of acetic acid, hydrolyzing acid, nick-aluminum and other residues.
5. The syrup is crystallized by stirring ethanol into it.
6. The crystalline xylitol is now separated in a centrifuge from the ethanol and from the sorbitol remaining in solution.
7. Viola, you have xylitol.
It is obvious to me, as it might be to you, that xylitol, in addition to killing bacteria, will probably kill just about anything. This clearly explains why it is only recommended to be used in small doses. Yet if you go to a health food store, you will see larger sized bags of xylitol on the shelf, promoting its many health uses.
In lab tests, xylitol will kill a rat 50% of the time in a dosage of 16.5 grams of xylitol for every 1000 grams of rat. Medium rats weigh 100-120 grams, or say .25 pounds. That means, to kill a 100 gram rat, you need only to get the rat to consume, 1.65 grams of xylitol.
A typical xylitol piece of gum contains .7 – 1 gram of xylitol. About half the amount needed to kill a rat. I read of a study stating that humans consumed up to 400 grams of xylitol per day without any ill health effects. I find that hard to believe that such a study is accurate in comparison to the lab tests done as indicated on the material safety data sheets. If 1.65 grams can kill a rat, consuming 400 grams would be highly toxic to humans.
A more detailed look gives cause for even more concern, there seems to be no long term safety data about the long term health effects of regularly consuming xylitol. The data sheets state:
“Epidemiology: No information found
Teratogenicity: No information found
Reproductive Effects: No information found
Mutagenicity: No information found
Neurotoxicity: No information found”
Critics will claim that lethal doses on material data sheets are not conclusive proof. But I must ask this question, has xylitol been proven conclusively to be safe or effective?
What About Cavity Fighting Power?
Let’s assume you don’t mind your liver being poisoned or the diarrhea side effects that are possible from xylitol gum or mints, because you want to fight the cavities. While one would assume that there is a huge body of evidence showing that xylitol prevents cavities, an article published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Dental Association volume 137, states, “Some studies claimed that xylitol-sweetened gum had an anticariogenic effect, though these claims need further study.” This basically says that any evidence that xylitol sweetened gums stops cavities is not conclusive and requires further study.
Conclusions About Xylitol
Xylitol is a processed sugar. After being hydrogenated and having toxic chemicals added to xylan from corn or other plant material, and then removed, you get xylitol. For anyone who wants to be healthy, the first thing that is pretty much unanimous about any diet or protocol to restore your health, is that you need to avoid processed sugars. While there is a variety of opinions on what foods to eat in replacement of processed sugar, it is blatantly clear that processed sugars, like xylitol, are extremely harmful to humans. Perhaps, xylitol has special uses in special cases; as a regular part of your diet, it is clearly a poor idea.
Xylitol might inhibit bacteria growth, but so does white sugar. Xylitol’s dirty little secret is that even in moderate doses of larger than 15 grams, which is approximately 3 teaspoons, xylitol’s own promotional material says it is not safe for everyone to use. Children being smaller and less developed than adults, will obviously be much more sensitive to xylitol’s effects.
The way to prevent and control cavities is not with a processed sugar chewing gum or mint, but rather with a good diet. A good diet that is capable of preventing cavities is generally low in sugar, and high in absorbable vitamins and minerals, particularly fat-soluble vitamins in foods like avocado, coconut, the germ of wheat, raw/unpasteurized milk, pastured organ meats, and sea foods.
If you want healthy teeth and gums, you need to avoid processed sugar’s like xylitol. Avoiding other processed foods like processed sugar, white flour and other foods not made from freshly ground grains, cheap low quality vegetable oils, soft drinks and artificial flavors and preservatives, soy milk, pasteurized milk, and other non-organic, non-wholesome foods will help increase your immunity to cavities.
I have found that there is no short cut to good wholesome whole foods for health.
Certified Personal Trainer by I.S.S.A., CPR
About the author
Ramiel Nagel is the internationally published author of Cure Tooth Decay and Healing Our Children In “Cure Tooth Decay” Nagel, reveals how your teeth can heal naturally because they were never designed to decay in the first place! Now there is a natural way to take control of your dental health by changing the food that you eat. Receive 19 free lessons on how to stop cavities
“Healing Our Children” explains the true causes of disease conditions of pregnancy and childhood so that you can avoid and prevent them. It provides essential natural health programs so that mothers and their new babies can optimize their health during the times of preconception, pregnancy, lactation and early childhood.
Categories: NOW, you know