Maltodextrin And Its Uses

Do you know what maltodextrin is? Do you know how its consumption affects health? In this article you will learn all about maltodextrin and its uses.
Maltodextrin and its uses

Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate commonly found in sports supplements and other processed products. It belongs to the sugars with a high glycemic index. Sometimes it can be used for thickening. It is a common ingredient in industrial foods, so it is good for you to know how it affects your body and whether its use is safe for health. In this article, you will get to know maltodextrin and its uses so that you know all about it the next time you see that word on the product label.

What is maltodextrin used for?

Maltodextrin has several different uses depending on the product to which it is added. In ultra-processed products, it acts as a thickener. This ingredient enhances the organoleptic properties of many foods. 

This sugar is also commonly found in sports drinks, where it is intended to delay the onset of fatigue. According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the use of maltodextrin during exercise stimulates glycogen re-synthesis.

Securing adequate glycogen stores reduces fatigue and improves performance during exercise. Glycogen is a reserve of glucose that the liver can use when it needs to increase energy production.

Maltodextrin is a type of sugar
Maltodextrin is a type of sugar, meaning it belongs to carbohydrates.

How to obtain maltodextrin

In general, maltodextrin is a white soluble powder that can be made from a variety of foods — for example, rice, corn, and wheat.

In order to produce maltodextrin, the above foods must be subjected to an industrial process that alters their nutritional properties. Starches are cooked at high temperatures. Manufacturers then add enzymes that accelerate their breakdown. Finally, hydrolysis is performed to generate maltodextrin.

The final product has 4 kilocalories of energy per gram, like any other carbohydrate. What differentiates sugars is their glycemic index (GI), the ability of food to raise blood sugar.

Maltodextrin has a higher glycemic index than table sugar. Eating it puts a heavy strain on the pancreas, and prolonged use leads to depletion of this organ and insulin-related problems.

Is maltodextrin safe for health?

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers maltodextrin to be a safe substance, in reality, its effect on people on a passive lifestyle is controversial. There is sufficient scientific evidence that  excessive intake of carbohydrates increases the risk of metabolic diseases.

In addition, a  study published in Nutrients has linked the intake of maltodextrin and other additives to changes in the intestinal microbiome. This process increases the overall inflammatory state of the body and with it the incidence of multifactorial and chronic diseases.

It’s up to different athletes. Athletes are encouraged to eat carbs regularly to replenish carbohydrate stores lost during exercise. This practice reduces the risk of muscle injury.

One of the nutritional goals in sports is to replenish glycogen stores. According to a study that was also published in the journal Nutrients, athletes need to eat carbs to do this.

When should maltodextrin not be used?

People with diabetes or other metabolic problems should avoid high glycemic index sugars – otherwise their health may suffer. According to experts, people with these diseases have a better response to low-carbohydrate diets than the controlled consumption of such carbohydrates.

Experts also note that people with intestinal dysbiosis should not eat supplements such as maltodextrin regularly. Because such additives can alter the intestinal microbiome and promote bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, they can lead to disease.

Maltodextrin substitutes

Maltodextrin is one of the ingredients in sports drinks
Sports drinks are often supplemented with maltodextrin to increase athletes ’energy stores.

In the food industry, maltodextrin substitutes are often used to ensure adequate organoleptic properties of foods. The most common substitutes are sugar, honey and molasses.

This does not mean that these substitutes are healthier than maltodextrin itself. In fact, their use is also not recommended. For people who have a passive lifestyle, the best and most convenient way to improve their health is to regulate and reduce their carbohydrate intake.

For athletes, on the other hand, sugars can be the main substrate for energy production. However, athletes also need to monitor their sugar intake so that its effects do not become harmful.

Maltodextrin and its uses: a general food additive

As you have seen in this article, maltodextrin has many uses in the food industry. However, it does not benefit health in any way – in fact, it can adversely affect it.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be completely stopped consuming, but in order not to get it regularly, you need to be aware of the products that contain it. You can check this by reading the food labels.

If you are an athlete instead, you may benefit from this carbohydrate, especially if it has been added to sports drinks. If you have any questions, consult a nutritionist.

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