Maltodextrin Side Effects

Maltodextrin Bad For You

Unraveling the Mysteries of Maltodextrin: Understanding Its Uses and Effects:

Maltodextrin: it's a term that often pops up on food labels, but what exactly is it? Used widely in the food industry as a thickener, filler, or preservative, maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate derived from starches like corn, rice, or potatoes. It's often added to a variety of ultra processed foods, from snacks to sauces, to improve texture, enhance flavor, or extend shelf life. Inspect the nutrition labels of the packaged foods stored in your refrigerator, freezer, and cupboard. It's probable that the ingredients list contains maltodextrin, which is now associated with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis, as identified by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic.

Maltodextrin is an ingredient that plays a significant role in the ultra processed food industry, offering a myriad of functions that contribute to the texture, flavor, and stability of various food products. One of its primary roles is as a thickener in sauces and gravies, where it helps achieve a smoother consistency and enhances mouthfeel and makes you want to consume more. 

By binding with water molecules and forming a gel-like substance, maltodextrin gives sauces and gravies the desired thickness and viscosity, ensuring a satisfying eating experience. In the realm of ultra processed baked goods, maltodextrin proves to be helpful in improving texture and moisture retention, tricking the consumer into thinking the product is fresh. Its ability to absorb and hold onto moisture helps prevent baked goods from becoming dry and crumbly, resulting in products that are soft, moist, and enjoyable to eat. 

Whether it's in cookies, cakes, or bread, maltodextrin contributes to the customers perception of quality and freshness of baked goods, extending their shelf life and enhancing their appeal to consumers which makes more money for the ultra processed food manufacturer. Beyond its role as a thickener and moisture enhancer, maltodextrin serves as a versatile filler in powdered products, including artificial sweeteners, spices, and powdered drinks. By providing bulk and volume to these products, maltodextrin helps ensure consistent dosing and ease of use for consumers while lowering the cost of manufacturing. 

Furthermore, its neutral flavor allows for the enhancement of other artificial tastes, making it an excellent choice for powdered formulations where flavor is of utmost importance. Additionally, maltodextrin is highly valued by ultra processed food manufacturers for its capacity to stabilize food items and inhibit crystallization in frozen treats. In ice creams, sorbets, and frozen yogurts, maltodextrin serves as a stabilizing agent, ensuring a velvety smooth texture and preventing the formation of undesirable ice crystals. This quality guarantees that heavily processed frozen desserts maintain their desired consistency and mouthfeel from storage to consumption, thus enriching the sensory experience for consumers. However, excessive consumption of such processed foods has been linked to various health concerns including overeating, chronic illnesses, obesity, diabetes, heart-related issues, cancer, and numerous other health ailments.

is maltodextrin good for you?

Here's a golden rule: maltodextrin often moonlights as a food preservative. But seriously, when was the last time you heard someone say, "Pass the food preservative, it's great for my health!"

While maltodextrin is generally regarded as "safe" for consumption by regulatory bodies like the FDA, it's essential to acknowledge that there are potential downsides to its use and conflicts within the FDA. This acknowledgment is particularly significant given recent controversies, such as the FDA's statement on the artificial sweetener aspartame as "safe", despite concerns raised by numerous independent clinical studies and organizations like the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) regarding aspartame's potential cancer causing effects. Makes you wonder if the FDA is working on behalf of big food companies or the people. 

The high glycemic index of maltodextrin raises significant concerns, as it can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, particularly problematic for individuals managing diabetes or insulin resistance. Such spikes may complicate blood sugar management and worsen existing health conditions. Additionally, regular consumption of large quantities of maltodextrin has been associated with weight gain and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, underscoring the importance of moderation and awareness in dietary choices. 

Compounding this issue is the fact that maltodextrin is not classified as an "added sugar" on food ingredients lists but rather as a "total carbohydrate," a classification exploited by chemical companies in marketing to food manufacturers. While some may consider maltodextrin safe in moderation (we disagree), it's crucial for consumers to understand its potential health impacts and explore alternatives, particularly for those with specific dietary needs or health concerns.

maltodextrin and gut health

Maltodextrin has gained attention for its potential impact on the gut microbiome, the diverse community of microorganisms inhabiting our intestines. This commonly used food additive has been linked to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Although deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), maltodextrin has been found by Cleveland Clinic researchers to alter gut bacteria. 

This additive disrupts the normal digestive process, causing bacteria to adhere to the intestinal lining—a characteristic of IBD. While ongoing research continues to explore this area, some studies indicate that maltodextrin consumption may change the composition and function of the gut microbiota. This has the potential to disrupt the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria, leading to dysbiosis—a condition associated with various gastrointestinal disorders and immune system dysregulation. 

Nonetheless, the specific effects of maltodextrin on the gut microbiome remain under investigation, requiring further research to fully comprehend its implications for human health. Individuals, particularly those with sensitivities to certain carbohydrates or digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), may experience digestive issues such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea after consuming foods containing maltodextrin.

Is Maltodextrin Bad for Your Liver? 

While there is a scarcity of comprehensive studies specifically examining the direct impact of maltodextrin on liver health, it's imperative to recognize the broader implications of excessive consumption of high-glycemic foods like maltodextrin. Such foods have been implicated in the development of metabolic syndrome, a multifaceted condition characterized by insulin resistance, obesity, elevated blood sugar levels, and dyslipidemia. Metabolic syndrome, in turn, poses a significant risk to liver health, as it can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver cells. 

Furthermore, prolonged exposure to high-glycemic foods may contribute to elevated liver enzymes, indicating liver inflammation or damage. Therefore, while the direct relationship between maltodextrin and liver health requires further investigation, it's prudent to approach its consumption with moderation as part of a well-rounded diet to mitigate potential risks to liver function and overall metabolic health.

Foods Containing Maltodextrin

Reading food labels is the best way to identify whether a product contains maltodextrin. Look for it listed among the ingredients, usually near the end of the list. Keep in mind that maltodextrin may also be listed under alternative names such as "Modified Food Starch", "Resistant Maltodextrin", "Corn Fiber", "Tapioca Fiber" or "Glucose Polymers."

  • Snack foods like chips, crackers, and pretzels
  • Soda beverages 
  • Breakfast cereals and granola bars 
  • Packaged desserts and sweets 
  • Salad dressings and sauces 
  • Coffee creamers
  • Instant soups and gravies 
  • Sports drinks and energy gels 
  • Powdered drink mixes and meal replacements

The #1 Worst Ingredient In The World

By Dr. Eric Berg