Xylitol: the scoop!

Xylitol has been making an appearance in line with the popularity of low carbohydrate/low sugar diets as it is marketed as “plant derived”, “low calorie” and “sugar free”, but here’s the official TNN scoop. Read on to find out why it’s not as sweet as it sounds.


  1. Xylitol is not natural. It may originate in a natural state, but it is an industrial product and the end result has been highly processed via sugar hydrogenation. This requires a catalyst such as raney nickel, which is powdered nickel-aluminum alloy and contributes heavy metal residue, or in other words, toxicity.
  2. Xylitol will damage your gut health. One of the original supposed benefits of xylitol was that it by-passes digestion in the stomach and is therefore not absorbed like other sweeteners. What actually happens though is fermentation – the ideal environment in which gut pathogens (think, bad bacteria) grow. Common symptoms following xylitol consumption are gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhoea and even yeast growth. No thank you!
  3. Xylitol is low calorie. In case you are still counting calories, read this. And remember, it is not about eating less, it is about eating to nourish with natural whole foods.
  4. Xylitol is super sweet and when consumed without fats or protein, may trigger hyperglycemia, otherwise known as elevated blood sugar. As we have discussed many times, such as here and here, this is the enemy for satiety, hormonal control and weight management.
  5. Xylitol does not prevent tooth decay. Such claims are based on the faulty theory that bacteria from fermentable carbohydrates (i.e. starches and sugars) cause tooth decay. Yes, I know there is plenty of “research” to support this, but so too are there companies selling it. To clarify, tooth decay is a problem of nutrient deficiency and the bacteria exist due to the presence of dead tissue. Correlation does not equal causation.
  6. Xylitol is often derived from GMO corn. Enough said.
“So what do I use?”
Personally I stick with Pure Harvest Rice Malt Syrup and you can read why here. This article on Sugar Free Substitutions will also help. Keep it simple, just eat real food.

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