Stop Tooth Decay with Xylitol
It has been demonstrated conclusively that tooth decay can be stopped cold by a simple change in diet. Here is how it works:
Simply remove all the sugar in your diet and replace it with xylitol. Does this sound impossible? In the strict sense, it is impossible. There are many natural food items which contain at least some sugar.
But in practical terms, this experiment was conducted in Finland in the early 1970’s. At that time several natural sweeteners were being considered as substitutes for sugar. The most promising of these was xylitol, because xylitol provides the same taste as sugar with reduced calories. Xylitol could be produced from locally available birch wood by the Finnish sugar company. Preliminary tests also showed that xylitol is completely safe for teeth.
A group of closely monitored volunteers used a diet that substituted xylitol for sugar wherever practicable. Besides using xylitol in their sugar bowls, they were provided with a wide variety of sugar-free processed foods that were sweetened with xylitol. They were given specially prepared bakery goods, confectioneries, jams, ice cream, soft drinks, sauces and dressings all sweetened only with xylitol.
What were the results for the no-sugar, “Xylitol-only Diet” group? (In this sense, “Xylitol Diet” refers to replacing sugar with xylitol in young adults, and not to weight reduction by calorie restriction.) After two years of heavy xylitol use, medical and metabolic test results were normal. The volunteers readily accepted the diet, and described the xylitol foods as similar or even superior to normal sugared varieties.
The most amazing discovery was that the xylitol diet could essentially eliminate tooth decay. There even appeared to be a “negative” decay rate when “remineralization” was considered. Surprisingly, a xylitol diet could arrest the active decay process and even reverse the effects. To a certain extent, damaged teeth could actually heal.
What does this mean for us today? This xylitol diet was criticized for as being completely unrealistic. Xylitol was, and remains expensive and very scarce compared to sugar. A wide variety of xylitol food products are still simply unavailable.
So the xylitol diet was a scientific and theoretical success. It provided huge amounts of data establishing the metabolic safety and dental benefits of a xylitol diet. But did it provide any information that we can apply, today, to improve our health?
-- by Dr. John Peldyak