Xylitol is a sweetener found in nature. It is considered a healthy sugar because it does not harm teeth. That’s why manufacturers nowadays use it in the production of healthy chewing gums and candies.


Xylitol is a natural sweetener also known as wood sugar or birch sugar. It belongs to the group of sugar alcohols (polyols). Xylitol is found in small amounts in many types of fruits and vegetables, making it natural. People even produce it in small amounts through their metabolism (i.e., our bodies produce it themselves).

It is a common ingredient in sugar-free chewing gums, candies, mints, foods intended for diabetes, and oral care products (oral hygiene).

For maximum utilization of the benefits of xylitol contained in sugar-free chewing gums, it is necessary to follow certain rules – i.e., when to chew. Ideally, chewing immediately after eating or drinking for at least 20 minutes. Chewing gums should be sweetened only with xylitol. Other sweeteners, according to studies, do not provide such proven health benefits.

Benefits of Xylitol

  • non-cariogenic nature – acidity necessary for the formation of dental caries is reduced
  • regular use of xylitol causes cavity-forming bacteria to starve and die by almost 75% [1]
  • inhibits the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, which is the main cause of middle ear infections and sinusitis [2] – thus may act as prevention of middle ear inflammation
  • prevents the formation of dental caries – therefore added to chewing gums, breath fresheners, and toothpaste
  • has 40% fewer calories than sugar
  • may help people achieve more stable blood sugar levels [3]
  • may also be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes [4]

Less Calories – Diet

Xylitol has a similar sweetness to regular sugar but contains 40% fewer calories.

  • Table sugar has 4 calories/g.
  • Xylitol has 2.4 calories/g.

Xylitol can also be considered a sweetener suitable for weight loss (diets) because it contains exactly 40% fewer calories than sugar.

Xylitol can be processed from trees such as birch or from a plant fiber called xylan.

The disadvantage of xylitol is that it can have a laxative effect. However, xylitol is dangerous for dogs, especially small breeds – it causes hypoglycemia in them (acute diabetes complications).

Low Glycemic Index and Does Not Raise Blood Sugar Levels

Although sugar alcohols are technically carbohydrates, most of them do not raise blood sugar levels, and therefore are not counted as pure carbohydrates (hence their popularity as sweeteners in low-carb products).

Xylitol has a very low glycemic index and does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels – thus, none of the harmful effects of sugar apply to it. The glycemic index (GI) of xylitol – a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels – is only 7, whereas regular sugar is 60-70.

For people with diabetes, prediabetes, obesity, or other metabolic issues, xylitol is an excellent alternative to sugar. Animal studies show impressive benefits for metabolic health – improving diabetes symptoms, reducing abdominal fat, and even preventing weight gain on a high-calorie diet.

Dental Health

Many dentists recommend using xylitol-sweetened chewing gums as a supplement to oral (dental) hygiene. They have a reason for that. Studies[5] have shown that xylitol promotes dental health and helps prevent tooth decay. These are called xylitol chewing gums.

When you chew chewing gums with xylitol or use it as a sweetener, harmful bacteria in your mouth starve.

In one study [6], chewing gums sweetened with xylitol reduced levels of bad bacteria by 27-75%, while levels of friendly bacteria remained constant.

Studies [7],[8] in animals also suggest that xylitol may increase calcium absorption in your digestive system, protect against osteoporosis, and strengthen teeth.

Reduction of Ear and Yeast Infections

Your mouth, nose, and ears are interconnected. Bacteria living in your mouth can therefore cause ear infections. Xylitol has been shown to starve some of these bacteria. Studies6 have shown that daily consumption of xylitol-sweetened chewing gums reduced the rate of ear infections by 40% in children with recurrent ear infections.

Other Health Benefits

Xylitol can increase collagen production and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It also nourishes friendly bacteria in your gut.

Important References:

[9] – Xylitol (E967) – harmfulness score 0
[10] – Study – Xylitol promotes dental health and helps prevent tooth decay
[11] – Study – Xylitol chewing gums reduced levels of bad bacteria by 27-75%
[12] and [13] – Study – increased calcium absorption in the digestive system, protection against osteoporosis, and strengthening of teeth

[14] – Study – reduction of recurrent ear infections in children

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