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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Sweetness of Xylitol

People with Sjogren's Syndrome, and other illnesses that cause dry mouth, need to take extra care of their teeth and mouths.  Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that tastes like sugar, looks and dissolves like sugar, but has 40% fewer calories.  The best part of all, is that xylitol is actually good for your teeth!  According to xylitolinfo.com, benefits of xylitol include:
Helps reduce the development of cavities (dental caries)
Resists fermentation by oral bacteria
Reduces plaque formation
Increases salivary flow to aid in the repair of damaged tooth enamel (remineralisation)
Compliments fluoride in oral hygiene products

Xylitol has been recommended by several dental associations worldwide through endorsement of sugar-free products in which xylitol constitutes at least 50% of the total sweetener.  Xylitol is metabolized independently of insulin and is slowly absorbed. The low-glycemic effect of xylitol metabolism makes xylitol an ideal sugar substitute for diabetics.  The only downside of xylitol is that in large quantities, it can have a laxative effect.  According to xylitolinfo.com, most adults should be able to tolerate 40gm/day. 
http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/xylitol/ states: To help prevent cavities, you need approximately six to eight grams of xylitol taken (chewed or ingested) throughout the day. To help prevent ear, nose and throat problems such as sinus conditions and middle ear infections, approximately 10 grams daily is recommended.  If used only occasionally or just once a day, xylitol may not be effective, regardless of the amount. Use xylitol at least three times each day – five times is preferable – for at least five minutes right after meals and snacks.

Dr. John's Candies has a variety of xylitol candies, including taffy, hard candies and lollipops.  They have developed a program they call SimplyXylitol,. These are specifically designed products (candy, gum, chocolates, lemonade, etc.) with measured amounts of xylitol.  Dr. John (a dentist, by the way), suggests 3-5 servings of these products spread throughout the day, preferably after meals, lasting 5 minutes each, to get the recommended 6-10 gm of xylitol. 

I buy xylitol in bulk, and use it instead of sugar for all my sweetening needs (I don't use much sweetener, I wouldn't recommend doing this if you do use alot).  Some xylitol containing products include:

Spry has a line of xylitol products, including gum, mints, toothpaste and oral rinse.  Xlear, the parent company, has other products, including a nasal rinse and bulk xylitol.  Trident Gums have varying amounts of xylitol, I like the Blueberry best.  This website has some cute (some might say annoying) little doodads, including a nonsensical multiple choice quiz to match you up with the gum that is perfect for you.  They matched me up with citrus blackberry Splash.  I will try it to see if I like it.  I found xylitol jam at globalsweet.com (I haven't tried it, if anyone has, let me know how it is).  The Biotene line of mouth care products, mouthwashes, toothpastes, moisturizers, gum,etc., all feature xylitol.

There are many more xyltol products out there, this is only a sampling.  I highly recommend using these products, especially if you have dry mouth issues.  As a great fan of candy (see my post a couple of days ago on Jelly Belly Jellybeans, which, unfortunately, don't contain xylitol), I think it is wonderful that finally, I am being told that candy (at least some candies) are good for me!  Now, to convince Jelly Belly to change their recipe...

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