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Xylitol’s Health Benefits beyond Dental Health: A Comprehensive Review

Salli, Krista, Lehtinen, Markus J., Tiihonen, Kirsti, Ouwehand, Arthur C.
Nutrients 2019 v.11 no.8
Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, antimicrobial properties, bone density, butyrates, colon, constipation, dental caries, dental health, immune system, intestinal microorganisms, otitis media, pathogens, satiety, sinusitis, sucrose, weight control, xylitol
Xylitol has been widely documented to have dental health benefits, such as reducing the risk for dental caries. Here we report on other health benefits that have been investigated for xylitol. In skin, xylitol has been reported to improve barrier function and suppress the growth of potential skin pathogens. As a non-digestible carbohydrate, xylitol enters the colon where it is fermented by members of the colonic microbiota; species of the genus Anaerostipes have been reported to ferment xylitol and produce butyrate. The most common Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species do not appear to be able to grow on xylitol. The non-digestible but fermentable nature of xylitol also contributes to a constipation relieving effect and improved bone mineral density. Xylitol also modulates the immune system, which, together with its antimicrobial activity contribute to a reduced respiratory tract infection, sinusitis, and otitis media risk. As a low caloric sweetener, xylitol may contribute to weight management. It has been suggested that xylitol also increases satiety, but these results are not convincing yet. The benefit of xylitol on metabolic health, in addition to the benefit of the mere replacement of sucrose, remains to be determined in humans. Additional health benefits of xylitol have thus been reported and indicate further opportunities but need to be confirmed in human studies.