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Students that gained weight and fat mass over the course of a year had 15-fold higher levels of erythritol in their blood compared to those that did not gain weight or lost weight.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol and is used as a sugar substitute low-calorie sweetener. This study also found that it was metabolized through a metabolic pathway (pentose phosphate pathway) important for the production of NADPH which is used to produce fatty acids and subsequent triglycerides and the energy can be efficiently stored in the form of fat.

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    Hi Rhonda, do you think this or other studies provide an indication that sugar alcohol intake in general should be limited? I’m wondering because I eat Xylitol fairly regularly, and was under the impression that it was overall good for you in terms of lacking sugar, working against mouth and nasal bacteria, and acting as a prebiotic. Now I’m wondering if there may be unforeseen issues…

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      This study is showing that erythritol is an intermediate metabolite (that can be formed from glucose) in the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). The erythritol can then be converted into other metabolites that are important for fatty acid synthesis which can later be stored as fat, depending on the concentration. In theory, consuming excess erythritol from refined sources may also then shunt into the same pathway for fatty acid synthesis but this study did not show this.

      Interestingly, the same pathway (PPP) also produces another metabolite called NADPH which can be used to makes antioxidants like glutathione. If that pathway becomes saturated (excess glucose and possibly excess erythritol) then the NADPH is used to produce fatty acids which are later stored as fat. Food sources do not contain high concentrations of erythritol.

      To my knowledge, xylitol is not a metabolite for this pathway so would not have a similar effect. There are many studies showing it is great for mouth bacteria and prevents cavaties.

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        Moreover, there’s an intruiging study from 2005 showing long-term xylitol supplementation causing a significant increase in collagen synthesis as well as a decrease in collagen fluorescence in the skin of aged rats, suggesting some anti-aging effect:

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15832042

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          Now that is interesting!

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          Ok, great. Thanks for this explanation.