Natural Xylitol Health Benefits
Xylitol is a naturally-occurring carbohydrate (polyol) that has a 5-carbon structure – distinguishing it from other common sugars based on 6 carbons. This molecular difference is key to xylitol’s benefits. While humans and other higher organisms have a metabolic pathway for using xylitol as an alternative energy source, many microorganisms (including many common pathogenic bacteria) do not. In fact, a number of studies have shown that besides being unable to metabolize xylitol, xylitol actually interferes with bacteria’s ability to adhere to body tissues (especially in the mouth and nasal passages). Furthermore, xylitol has the unique effect of diminishing bacteria’s ability to produce biofilm – thereby making the bacteria more susceptible to antibiotic and natural immune system defenses.
Safety data on xylitol health usage has been extensive. Initially discovered in the 1890’s, xylitol wasn’t the subject of intensive study until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Since then xylitol has remained a highly researched and studied ingredient. While much of the research has centered on xylitol’s dental health benefits, studies have also included the areas of diabetes (xylitol is metabolized in the human body independently of insulin levels); wound healing (especially due to its interference with biofilm formation); upper respiratory health (including sinusitis, prevention of otitis media, allergic rhinitis, etc.); calcium absorption; and even atopic dermitis.
Bacterial Adherance in the Nose
Xylitol Health and Diabetic Usage
Xylitol has been used in a number of countries as an effective sugar substitute – it can satisfy the sugar cravings experienced by many patients, especially newly diagnosed diabetic patients struggling to control sugar in their diets. While fully replacing regular sugar and/or glucose sources with xylitol will take some time to build up tolerance, xylitol has the advantage of avoiding “sugar spikes” and can replace sugar on a 1:1 basis – simplifying usage. Xylitol health has even been used in parenteral IV applications in hospital settings as a replacement to normal glucose drips.
Xylitol and Biofilm Formation/Wound healing
A recent area of study that has emerged from the attempt to discover the mechanism for xylitol’s efficacy in dental health, xylitol was noted for significantly reducing the ability ofStrep. mutans bacteria to produce plaque biofilm. Subsequent studies have proven xylitol’s usefulness in promoting wound-healing and interruption of bacterial colonies from producing biofilm that untreated led to antibiotic resistance and uncontrolled Staph. aureus infections.
Xylitol and Upper Respiratory Health
While xylitol’s efficacy against Strep. mutans in the oral cavity has been the subject of numerous studies, there have also been several looking at xylitol’s effectiveness against a closely related species, Strep. pneumonia, the major pathogen in both sinusitis and otitis media. While their normal treatment is antibiotics, the research on xylitol health suggests a new dimension for prevention and treatment without the concern about antibiotic resistance and the overuse or inappropriate usage of medications–it’s like soap for the nose.