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Friday, September 5, 2008

Xylitol

You want to avoid food additives that will kill you or cause tumors or upset your brain chemistry, so when you open that wrapper of gum you scrutinize the powder-covered label carefully in the sun, almost unable to read the faint dusty print, until at last you discern, shimmering through the haze, the list of ingredients: . . . . . . . . xylitol . . . . . . . Some of the names of ingredients are large and strange enough to scare you off and xylitol is one of them and it sends you scurrying to the Internet to research its effects where you find the frightening news that it was found in some 1970s animal studies to lead to carcinogenesis (tumor formation), which is enough to make you spit out the gum and look helplessly at the security guard who is eyeing you with a disgruntled grimmace. And then you chance upon one last Web site which relieves your fears:
In 1996, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), a prestigious scientific advisory body to the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, confirmed that adverse findings in animal studies conducted in the 1970s are "not relevant to the toxicological evaluation of these substances (e.g., xylitol) in humans."1
In plain English this means that xylitol is generally recognized as safe. In addition, numerous studies have concluded that the substance is not tumor forming and in fact may prevent tumors. It also has been shown to prevent dental decay by interfering with bacterial adhestion to mucosa, which is one reason it is added to gum. "Xylitol has been documented to be noncarcinogenic and anticarcinogenic as a sweetener in chewing gum, other functional foods, and candies. Recent studies have indicated that xylitol may have prebiotic properties and other effects on health."2 Prebiotics increase good bacteria and aid digestion.

I have also heard Dr. Alan Woods, M.D. extol the virtues of xylitol. For my money, these authorities, who I trust and respect, have convinced me that xylitol is good and I intend to buy soom as soon as possible.

References
  1. Safety of Xylitol. Joseph Mercola, M.D. (Accessed 9/5/2008.)
  2. Mary K. Schmidl, Theodore P. Labuza. 2000. Essentials Of Functional Foods. Springer, 324. (Accessed 9/5/2008.)

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