Xylitol Research and Evidence
Xylitol is a non-sugar sweetener extracted from the birch tree. It is a five-carbon polyol that has effectively demonstrated itself to be cariogenic, by its action of neutralizing plaque acidity on teeth and repairing tooth enamel. Hence, it is also called the “magic bullet.”
The major production of xylitol goes to the pharmaceutical and oral hygiene industries and to confectionary manufacturers. It has 30% less calories compared to table sugar (calorific value of xylitol is 2.4 kcal/g, while that of sugar is 4 kcal/g) and is used in different food products for children like chewing gum, candies, gelatin, and in lozenges, toothpaste, and mouth rinses.
Xylitol and Dental Caries
Clinical trials on xylitol show that it plays a major role in prevention of dental caries in babies and teenaged children and in the fetus through the mother. Use of xylitol chewing gum is directly related to reduction of dental caries. Moreover, xylitol also reduces the s. mutans transmission from mother to infant.
Another research on children has found that xylitol candy, pops, ice, gums, puddings, and cookie help in arresting dental caries. Follow-up studies five years later showed that xylitol gum resulted in reduction of caries by 59% against no gum use.
Trials conducted in Finland, a major producer of xylitol, proved that children of xylitol-treated mothers’ had lower levels of s. mutans than those treated with fluoride varnish or chlorhexidine.
Other Impacts of Xylitol
Accumulation of excessive xylitol in the intestine leads to retention of water, which results in diarrhea. Consumption of excessive volumes of xylitol can lead to side effects such as gas and bloating. Xylitol which remains unabsorbed is eliminated after being broken into carbon dioxide. A report published by the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Food in 1985 stated that consuming 50 g of xylitol per day can lead to diarrhea. The Committee also affirmed that tabletop sweeteners that contain xylitol must be highlighted with a warning saying: “Too much of consumption may lead to laxative effects.”
The impact of xylitol is much less on the blood sugar levels compared with natural sugar, because of the gradual absorption rate of xylitol. This fact was approved in a xylitol review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This indicates that xylitol could help people with disrupted tolerance of glucose, a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Health benefits and risks of chocolate
Chocolate is made from tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds. Its earliest use dates back to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica.
After the European discovery of the Americas, chocolate became very popular in the wider world, and its demand exploded.
Chocolate has since become a popular food product that millions enjoy every day, thanks to its unique, rich, and sweet taste.