Dear Dr. Ellie
I just discovered your website. I have a question about the xylitol in a child... my daughter has a gut malabsorption disorder and cannot digest/absorb it properly. I have tried and cannot give her gum or mints. I can have her rinse with it. Is there a protocol for rinsing with xylitol that might work for my daughter? Thank you.
You may have heard that "sugar alcohols" are bad for digestion - but xylitol is totally UNLIKE all the other sugar alcohols which cause gastric problems ( sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol etc.)
In fact I warn people to look at ingredient labels of anything you are going to eat and avoid sorbitol ( since it can give symptoms of acid reflux in addition to gastric bloating and upset stomach.)
Xylitol is viewed as fiber by your stomach - so it travels quickly through and into the lower digestive system. In the lower intestine xylitol feeds healthy digestive bacteria and this can lead to improved digestive health and better absorption of minerals by the body. The best time to consume xylitol is at the end of a meal - so that it will follow food through the stomach and this is also the best time to teeth also!
You only need a gram of xylitol five times a day. This would be one fifth of a teaspoon of xylitol - after meals and snacks. I suggest the best way for your daughter would be to put a teaspoon of xylitol into water and drink this at the end of each mea l- so that she has a total of five grams of xylitol each day.
If she does this she should find added benefits for her digestion. Probiotics and xylitol taken together will work in harmony to help her absorption.
Here is a review of one recent study at the National Institute of Health
...a beneficial shift in the metabolic patterns of the colon microbes was measured with the tested products. These in vitro studies provide evidence to the prebiotic characteristics... and beneficial properties of xylitol were demonstrated in the colon model.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17995737)
The only problem with xylitol is when you consume too much too quickly. Then xylitol draws water into the intestine ~ which can cause a temporary digestive inconvenience! This is why large amounts of xylitol should not be eaten all at once until your digestion is conditioned and healthy.
Hope this gives you a new way to think about xylitol for digestive health,