Xylitol and Candida
Candida is a genus of yeasts and candida albicans is a yeast that can be found in various parts of the human body but most notably in the digestive tract. The immune system and the intestinal flora usually keep Candida levels under control. However, the use of antibiotics that can kill the “good” bacteria of the intestinal flora or a weakened immune system can cause candida overgrowth which can result in local infections or even systemic candidiasis (in immunocompromised patients).
A study published in 2005 (Khaled H. Abu-Elteena, 2005) examined the in vitro effects of various dietary carbohydrates to the adherence of four Candida species to human buccal epithelial cells. Their results showed that fructose, galactose, glucose, maltose, sorbitol and sucrose increased the adherence of candida. On the other hand, Xylitol significantly reduced its adherence. The authors concluded that the substitution of other simple carbohydrates with xylitol may be of value in the control of oral Candida colonization and infection.
Another recent study (Uittamo J et al, 2010) examined if xylitol can inhibit acetaldehyde production by Candida species. Acetaldehyde is a carcinogen that can be produced by Candida from alcohol fermentation and has been suggested to be the carcinogen responsible for ethanol-related cancers of the oral cavity. The hypothesis that xylitol can reduce the amount of acetaldehyde produced by Candida was confirmed. The reduction observed was 84% and statistically significant.