What is maltodextrin and is it healthy? It has 4 calories per gram which has the same number of calories as sucrose or table sugar. If you need a boost of calories and energy, then maltodextrin is good for that because the body digests it quickly. Maltodextrin is a powder made from corn, rice, potato, starch, or wheat.
It is present in foods but in insignificant amounts, but it shouldn’t have an overall significant effect on your overall carbohydrate intake. Maltodextrin has a high Glycemic index value which means it causes a spike in your blood sugar and this can be hazardous to people that have diabetes. That is why it is important to consume maltodextrin in small amounts.
What is maltodextrin and is it healthy? Photo Credit: iStock-Symkin
There are some studies that have shown that limiting your maltodextrin consumption can help keep your gut bacteria healthy. A 2012 study suggested that maltodextrin can change your gut bacteria consumption in a way that makes you susceptible to disease. The study showed it suppress the growth of probiotics in your digestive system. And by doing this it can potentially compromise your immune system.
A 2019 review study showed that maltodextrin can impair intestinal mucus release which can increase the release of colitis. A small 2020 study showed that maltodextrin can promote the growth of healthy Bifidobacterium in the digestive system. This 2020 study had only 13 people so more research and more people would be needed to really validate this study.
Maltodextrin is a sweetener and carbohydrate with no nutritional value so the level of sugar can increase weight gain if you consume too much of it. Because maltodextrin is a fast digesting carbohydrate it is used frequently in many sports drinks and the theory is that it will give athletes that boost of energy before their competition.
Here are some common sweeteners that are used instead of maltodextrin which is:
- Brown Sugar
- Corn Syrup
- Maple Syrup
- White Sugar
- Coconut Sugar
There was a study that was published in the European Journal of Nutrition that found that digestion resistant maltodextrin had positive effects on overall digestion. It improved stool consistency and stool volume.
The Bottom Line is maltodextrin like any other sugar can be part of a balanced diet if it is consumed in small to moderate amounts. It can be added as a carbohydrate or extra energy in your diet. Especially if you are an athlete that is about to compete in a competition and need a good jolt of energy.
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