Xylitol Sugar Diarrhea Alert
today I had a friend over for coffee , the coffee was too strong, added A LOT of Xylitol sugar to our coffee. Both of has had breakfast , and both of us had diarrhea. Bad, recurrent diarrhea (two or three times in one morning , beginning only minutes after drinking the coffee).
The breakfast had been carefully prepared using fresh clean food and well cooked, so we ruled out the food. I did a google search on Xylitol and diarrhea and sure enough there are hundreds of search results referencing
Xylitol as a cause of diarrhea.
(btw, I will never buy it again. It has been making me slightly nauseous on every occasion that I use it, and the diarrhea that I had attributed to the MCT oil in BP Coffee recipe could actually have had Xylitol as its real cause. That is probably the case, actually. Not to mention that Xylotol is ridiculously difficult to dissolve in cold beverages, way too expensive, etc. Yech.)
Here is a particularly good article on the subject:
Xylitol: Should We Stop Calling It Natural?
The name shouldâ€™ve tipped me off.
It doesnâ€™t exactly roll off the tongue like â€œmeadowlarkâ€ or
â€œchamomileâ€ or â€œcottonwood.â€ Not particularly authentic-sounding, that
But my box of xylitol sweetener said â€œnaturalâ€ all over it. And each
individual packet told me â€œsafer than sugar.â€ Not to mention, the brand I
had is made right here in good old Colorado. Where even the car exhaust
takes itself to be recycled.
So I pulled out a packet. One tiny packet. And I put it in my cup of coffee, completely oblivious to the nightmare that was about to ensue.
To save you the gory details, let me just give you a few key concepts and you can put it all together:
- half a cup of coffee
- crippling stomach cramps
- an hour in the bathroom
- severe dehydration
- post traumatic sweetener disorder
It wasnâ€™t until later that I noticed a warning, tucked right at the
very end of the paragraphs talking about how healthful and natural
xylitol is, that said:
â€œExcessive use of Xylitol may cause a mild laxative effect.â€ I nominate this the understatement of my life.
So, xylitol is known to cause stomach problems and diarrhea if used
in large amounts. There are plenty of studies that confirm this, but
itâ€™s always worded in ways that make it seem like youâ€™d have to eat your
weight in xylitol to be affected.
And, you know, even ingesting too much water can kill you. So just
because I had a severe reaction after just a teensy tinesy bit doesnâ€™t
mean itâ€™s not natural, really. Right?
And just because the FDA had to issue a warning stating that it can kill your dog (or ferret) â€¦ that doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s not natural, either. (Remember chocolate and dogs?)
But, of course, I couldnâ€™t leave well enough alone. I had to
research. I had to talk to chemists. I had to break the spell that
xylitol is apparently putting over so much of the natural foods
Hereâ€™s what I found out.
Xylitol: Does This Sound Natural?
My initial Google search for â€œxylitolâ€ and â€œsafeâ€ took me straight to this Natural News article that states:
Xylitol is a processed sugar. After being hydrogenated
and having toxic chemicals added to xylan from corn or other plant
material, and then removed, you get xylitol.
I love Natural News with all my heart, but sometimes they can be a little bit over the top. A little bit sensational. Kind of a drama queen.
Given the huge rash of xylitol ads Iâ€™ve seen recently, along with
what I can only assume is a push by the Xylitol Overlords to â€œhealth
bloggersâ€ to promote their â€œall-natural, insulin-regulating,
super-sweetenerâ€ by way of 5000 blog posts in a month, I had to look
into it more.
Maybe, just this once, Natural News was wrong.
Natural? You decide.
My Chat With The Peopleâ€™s Chemist, Shane Ellison
So I reached out The Peopleâ€™s Chemist Shane Ellison, author of Over-the-Counter Natural Cures.
He also happens to have a masterâ€™s degree in organic chemistry. He
knows what heâ€™s talking about. Big words. Fatty acid chains. Things like
I trust him.
First question, â€œCan you tell me a little bit about how xylitol is produced?â€
And Shane Ellison, Organic Chemist, replied: â€œXylitol is a molecular
cousin to sugar and is derived from the crushed fibers of sugar cane
[...birch wood or corn...] using a multi-step chemical reaction that
involves the use of sulfuric acid, calcium oxide, phosphoric acid and
active charcoal. The end product is a a bleached, powdery blend of sugar
alcohols that taste sweet on the tongue but are not absorbed by the
Hmmmm, I thought. That sounds fishy. But maybe not so
bad. After all, I havenâ€™t a clue just what sulfuric acid and phosphoric
acid does to the molecular structure of this stuff.
(And then I felt really smart for thinking the words â€œmolecularâ€ and â€œstructureâ€ together.)
So I sent him another email, and asked: â€œGiven all the
chemical processes needed to turn natural xylitol into what we consume
as a sweetener (or in gum), in your opinion, can it really be considered
a natural product?â€
Guess what he said?
Shane Ellison, Organic Chemist, replied: â€œI donâ€™t consider anything natural if itâ€™s processed with man-made chemicals.â€
He said, â€œXylitol will rip up your insides, namely the digestive
tract. Itâ€™s being touted as a natural product, most likely so that it
can bypass regulation. Thus, very little studies exist on its side
To further this assertion, he pointed me to the Danisco site,
a European company nearly wholly responsible for the creation and
supply of xylitol, or what Shane called a â€œFranken-chemical.â€ (From
their website: â€œDanisco is the worldâ€™s leading supplier of xylitol.â€)
Danisco actually happens to be a part of DuPont. DuPont, as you may remember, was sued several years ago by the EPA
for covering up â€“ FOR YEARS â€“ the scientific evidence that PFOA, a
substance in Teflon, is highly toxic, a carcinogen, and disrupts
So pardon me if I donâ€™t have a lot of trust in a company whoâ€™s manufacturing questionable sweeteners and has that kind of track record.
Echoes of HFCS
You may have noticed that I havenâ€™t included any of xylitolâ€™s
purported health benefits, the claims that itâ€™s great for dental health,
or regulating blood sugar, or anything of that kind.
At this point, Iâ€™m not debating those things. Frankly, I donâ€™t care.
(I clearly canâ€™t consume it anyway, unless I enjoy long-lived trips to
What bothers me â€“ what ALWAYS bothers me â€“ is when companies (or governmental regulatory bodies, even) tout something as natural, when its sole ability to exist in the way we consume it as a supplement is based on wholly unnatural, synthetic chemical processes.
Itâ€™s very reminiscent of another industry recently begging and pleading us to believe their product is natural. High-fructose corn syrup, anyone?
Now for the kicker.
A great amount of the xylitol thatâ€™s released for consumption (whether it be in gum, in food products, or in bulk that we buy to cook and sweeten with) is made from corn.
How far of a stretch is it to wonder if the Corn Refiners Association
finally came to the realization that the public would never get on the
high-fructose corn syrup bandwagon ever again? How in the world will
they recoup those losses?
Whatâ€™s the logical next step for them?
And if you think your xylitol made from birch (which is rare and
expensive these days) is better, from a chemistry standpoint, it is
structurally the same. Other than the fact that itâ€™s not genetically
modified, like the corn might be. It does, however, contribute to
Can Someone Else PLEASE Tell This Story?
I am not a hard-hitting journalist. I am a sometimes-humorous,
sometimes-bossy, always-humble blogger who writes about putting food on
Not that you shouldnâ€™t take me seriously. You can, but only if it makes you happy.
There is just SO little information out there that isnâ€™t sponsored by the xylitol companies and industry. SO little information out there thatâ€™s purely investigative.
Can someone who IS a hard-hitting journalist please do something
about xylitol? Thereâ€™s a juicy story just waiting to be told. Wouldnâ€™t
How Do YOU Feel About Xylitol?
Has this changed any feelings you may have about the wunder-sweetener?
What IS your sweetener of choice, if not xylitol?
(Also, one last thank you to Shane Ellison for all his help and
encouragement, as well as the great work he puts into on his own site â€“ The Peopleâ€™s Chemist â€“ where you can watch his PC Reality TV Clips and read his knowledge-packed blog.)
UPDATE â€“ 6/10/13
Well, itâ€™s been TWO YEARS almost to the date since I wrote this post, and the comments just keep coming in.
If you stopped by to leave a negative comment, letâ€™s just get this
out of the way: Yes, I know your thinking skills are so much more
logicalistic criticaltastic than mine are. Yes, I know you think Iâ€™m an
idiot. No, I donâ€™t want fries with that.
There is one redaction Iâ€™d like to make, and itâ€™s this: The title
should have said â€œXylitol: Can we stop calling the way we produce it and
consume it natural.â€
Because, yes, I am aware (and I was when I wrote it) that our bodies
(and many living things) contain â€œxylitol.â€ Poor choice of title there,
and I know it gets your knickers in a twist.
But just because our bodies produce something doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s
prudent to extract it en masse from living organisms (using questionable
synthetic processes) and then ingest it willy nilly. At least, perhaps
itâ€™s not prudent for many people. As you can tell, plenty of people have
the same issue I had. And plenty of people will feel solace at knowing
theyâ€™re not alone, and exactly WHAT it was that caused it.
I canâ€™t say whatâ€™s right for you. You get to choose. And good for you
for thinking your decision through critically to come to a different
conclusion than I did, but I can promise you Iâ€™m not stopping by your
blogs to call you names.
Hereâ€™s the deal: This is my blog. MY blog. My home. I pay hosting
fees. I poured my heart and soul into this blog for years. What doesnâ€™t
get to happen is for you to come in and call me names. That just doesnâ€™t
fly. So if you leave a negative comment, dripping with sarcasm and
self-righteous indignation, or call me names, it WILL disappear.
Again, let me restate this: It has been TWO YEARS since I wrote this
post, and I am NOT some crazy â€œletâ€™s take xylitol off the market and Iâ€™m
going to protest it and make everyone hate itâ€ kind of person. In fact,
I havenâ€™t said more than two words about xylitol in nearly two years.
If anyoneâ€™s propagating negativity at this point, it ainâ€™t me.
I have nothing further to say about xylitol â€“ ever. I have nothing
further to say about this post. What I said, two years ago, I said. I
have zero interest in or passion for discussing this further.
If youâ€™re all riled up and want to talk about how stupid I am, or if
youâ€™re a representative for a xylitol company who wants to defend your
companyâ€™s product (and yes, IP know youâ€™re out there), there are MANY
other outlets on the internet just for that. I recommend starting with
www.wordpress.com. Setting up your own blog is really super duper easy.
Thanks for understanding.