Xylitol, the birch sugar

Do you get a lot of cavities, are you unable to give up sugar despite your dentist's recommendations, or do you not have time to brush your teeth when you are at work?

The solution to some of these questions could be found in a very special sugar, the Xylitol.

We generally associate sweets with sugarespecially common sugar or sucrose, which is a combination of glucose and fructose. We also associate it, and with good reason, with such serious health problems as diabetesthe obesity and the dental caries. Sugar is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, surrounded by fibre and nutrients, so we can eat these foods with peace of mind.


Ordinary sugar, a dangerous ally.

The real danger lies in the large quantities used in industrial products such as soft drinks, snacks or industrial bakery products, as you probably already know. It is also in some products that have a reputation for being healthy, until we look closely at their composition. This would be the case of packaged juices, cold meats such as turkey or ham, certain dairy products and even baby food for our babies.

But not all sugars have these problems. This would be the case for xylitola sugar with ideal propertiesI'll explain why in a moment.


Birch wood, the main source of xylitol.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar and it is sweet, and curiously, it is very common in Finland, due to the shortage of normal sugar during the Second World War. It is also called birch sugar, as it is extracted from the wood of this Nordic tree, but because of its chemical composition, does not have the disadvantages of regular sugar.

Properties of Xylitol

  • It has fewer calories2.4Kcal compared to 4Kcal for sucrose.
  • Low glycaemic indexThis means that it does not increase insulin levels as much, about 10 times less than regular sugar, so it is suitable for diabetics, within certain limits.
  • Does not cause tooth decay, but prevents it.The bacteria responsible for tooth decay are no longer fed, so their population is drastically reduced.

In addition, other benefits of its consumption have been discovered, such as the fact that it is prebioticby feeding the beneficial bacterial flora of our digestive tract, and prevents osteoporosisbecause it increases calcium absorption. It is also used successfully in various areas of medicine for its antifungal and bactericidal effects.

Where can I find Xylitol?

Xylitol can be found as a sweetener in sweets and Smint-type dagrees, but its concentration is very low and it has no therapeutic function. If we want to take advantage of its benefits and incorporate it into our diet, we can find it in powdered form like ordinary sugar in large packets, or in single doses. There are also pharmacy sweets and chewing gum with an adequate concentration, and even lollipops for the little ones.

Dr. Diego Saura Miñano, endodontist at Vélez&Lozano