Xylitol vs Sorbitol

Dear Dr. Ellie:

Hello I’m interested in purchasing some of the Zellies products, and I was hoping to ask a question. If someone is especially sensitive to digestive side effects from sorbitol, would you expect xylitol to have similar effects? I understand that, in general, xylitol is less likely to cause those problems. But my husband is unusually sensitive to sorbitol (even 1 or 2 pieces of sorbitol-containing gum are too much for him). 

I was wondering if it would make sense for him to avoid xylitol as well or, alternatively, if you’d suggest that he start off slowly with the xylitol and increase his intake over a period of time. Hope that makes sense, and thank you for any advice you can offer.


Dear YT
I love to dispel the notion that sorbitol and xylitol have any relationship to each other they have no relationship except a similar sounding name! ( I wonder if this was purposeful????) Sorbitol is one of the ugly artificial sweeteners on the market sorbitol is cheap and is used by many companies who put profit before health.

Research shows that sorbitol will grow plaque in the mouth.

It takes about three pieces of gum for harmful plaque bacteria to learn how to use sorbitol as an energy source for growth and to multiply. People who eat sorbitol often have symptoms of acid reflux ( ? possibly from similar harmful bacteria growing in their esophagus). It is interesting that regular use of 100 percent xylitol can often reduce symptoms of acid reflux in six months (the same time it takes to change the bacteria of the mouth and get rid of harmful plaque bacteria)

2-5 grams of sorbitol can set off disagreeable digestive problems with gas, bloating and diarrhea.
I do not believe that Sorbitol is even FDA approved for use with children under five years of age.
Laboratories that grow bacteria often add sorbitol to the culture medium. Yuck!

Xylitol is natural, healthy and has health benefits for teeth, bones, is anti-fungal and probiotic for healthy digestive bacteria. Our bodies make 15 grams of xylitol naturally each day by the process of metabolism.

Xylitol helps us preserve muscle and break down fat doing exercise. It can be safely eaten in any quantity even as great as a quarter pound per day (although I do not recommend this amount, but it tested safe!)

I would suggest that you divide the recommended 6.5 grams of xylitol and consume it on five or six separate times each day. (This would be about a quarter of a teaspoon or 1 gram, six times a day.) This could be granular on a spoon, dissolved in water or as a couple of Zellie mints (each mint 0.5 grams) or a piece of gum.

Xylitol is best taken after meals and snacks.

If you divide the dose and possibly start with a little less say (4 grams) then work up to 6.5 grams in about a week I think you will have no problems.

Xylitol behaves like fiber so it will move through the intestine like fiber. There may be a possible mild laxative effect but there will not be gas or cramping at all. In fact, many people with digestive problems have found their problems IMPROVE when they incorporate xylitol into their diet in this way.

I hope this answers your question,


Categories: Xylitol


  • Anonymous says:

    Sorbitol and Xylitol share the same suffix "itol" because it denotes a hydroxyl group or sugar acid.

  • Anonymous says:

    What kind of physician are you that you don't acknowledge the fact that it is more than a "name" similarity between the two? Any PHARMACIST can tell you that they are both naturally occurring sugar alcohols. Both can be found in fruits and veggies an in our bodies. The manufacturing process is different; and obviously they are not the same exact thing-otherwise they would share ONE name; but they are actually quite similar in many ways.

  • Dr. Ellie says:

    In a nutshell: the biggest oral health difference is that sorbitol can be utilized by plaque bacteria which allows mouth plaque to grow and thicken. In addition I see other major differences between sorbitol and xylitol.These differences are significant and need to be highlighted for the public, since mis-information and marketing make analysis quite difficult. 1.) When sorbitol is an ingredient in gum, by the time you eat your third stick of gum – plaque bacteria have "learned" how to use it as an energy source, and this allows plaque bacteria to grow and multiply. Thickened plaque and acid reflux symptoms often ensue – both effects are associated with damaged teeth. 2. ) There is research to show that when sorbitol is present in the mouth, the positive remineralizing/tooth repairing effects of fluoride with xylitol are impaired (or prevented): http://www.jodjournal.com/article/S0300-5712(05)00219-8/abstract 3.) The FDA classifies xylitol as safe for any age, in any amount. The FDA warns that sorbitol should not to be given to children under the age of 3. 4. ) Xylitol has numerous health benefits, including oral, reducing ear infections, helping preserve muscle and burn fat deposits and to prevent osteoporosis. Combined with dilute fluoride rinsing, xylitol can repair teeth through remineralization. Sorbitol has no positive health benefits and may inhibit the positive health effects of xylitol. 5. ) Xylitol is found naturally in the human body and is well tolerated – sorbitol causes all kinds of gastric distress at very low dose when consumed. I hope this helps. I am fascinated, why would you be an advocate of sorbitol? Elliewww.zellies.com26 Corporate WoodsRochester, NY 14623(585) 272-1270

  • Dr. Ellie says:

    OK the "itol" may make these products sound alike, but that is where it ends!Some toothpaste companies have spent huge sums of money to confuse people about these two products.There is research to show that xylitol and fluoride will work in harmony to heal teeth, but this will not happen if sorbitol is present.The biggest problem with sorbitol is the gastric distress that it causes and that plaque bacteria can use it to grow and multiply.Hence if you eat sorbitol you may have increased plaque and often this leads to acid reflux symptoms.

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