This study examined the effects of xylitol on mouse intestinal microbiota and urinary isoflavonoids. Xylitol is classified as a sugar alcohol and used as a food additive. The intestinal microbiota seems to play an important role in isoflavone metabolism. Xylitol feeding appears to affect the gut microbiota. We hypothesized that dietary xylitol changes intestinal microbiota and, therefore, the metabolism of isoflavonoids in mice. Male mice were randomly divided into two groups: those fed a 0.05% daidzein with 5% xylitol diet (XD group) and those fed a 0.05% daidzein-containing control diet (CD group) for 28 days. Plasma total cholesterol concentrations were significantly lower in the XD group than in the CD group (p < 0.05).
Urinary amounts of equol were significantly higher in the XD group than in the CD group (p < 0.05). The fecal lipid contents (% dry weight) were significantly greater in the XD group than in the CD group (p < 0.01). The cecal microbiota differed between the two dietary groups. The occupation ratios of Bacteroides were significantly greater in the CD than in the XD group (p < 0.05). This study suggests that xylitol has the potential to affect the metabolism of daidzein by altering the metabolic activity of the intestinal microbiota and/or gut environment. Given that equol affects bone health, dietary xylitol plus isoflavonoids may exert a favorable effect on bone health.