Many people say that maltodextrin is dangerous for your health, but what is maltodextrin? There are so many ingredients in our foods that we don't understand, but we don't always make a big deal about them.

We keep eating the food and say, "We'll worry about the consequences later, right?" You'll find maltodextrin in all sorts of packaged foods like candy, pastries, and chips. To find out the truth about maltodextrin, we had to dig deep. We want to solve the mystery and discover: "What is maltodextrin?"

What Is Maltodextrin? Let's Get It Straight

Maltodextrin is a tasteless and odorless white powder that dissolves in water. You'll find it in a wide variety of foods, and it's there to help improve the flavor, texture, and life cycle.

You make this powder from starchy foods like corn, potatoes, and wheat. While the product starts as a natural substance, it then undergoes processing, and that is where the bad news comes in.

During manufacturing, the starch goes through something called hydrolysis. This process uses water and acids to break the starch into smaller pieces, which results in the white powder you typically see.

When you ask yourself, "What is maltodextrin?" you're talking about something that adds no nutritional value to the food.

The Whole Scoop on Maltodextrin

If you're wondering why maltodextrin gets included in the processing of foods, there are a few different reasons. The ingredient helps thicken foods and makes the ingredients bind well.

It also helps with the texture and flavor, to preserve foods that require a long shelf life, and it's often used to replace sugars in foods that are supposed to be "low-calorie."

You'll find maltodextrin in all types of foods like pasta, cereal, baked goods, salad dressing, sweets, and sports drinks. The ingredient is an easily digestible carbohydrate, so it breaks down quickly.

It provides you with a sudden jolt of energy followed by a quick crash. That reason is why maltodextrin is popular in energy drinks.

Does it have any benefits? 

Believe it or not, some people think that maltodextrin has some health benefits. If you're a bodybuilder or an athlete who is looking to gain weight, you can consume maltodextrin as a quick source of energy before exercising or weight lifting.

The most common and apparent positive of maltodextrin is that it is a cheap ingredient that gets used to improve the texture and shelf life of foods like chips and cookies.

The Dangers of Maltodextrin

By this point, you should have an answer to the original question, "What is maltodextrin?" Now, it's time to talk about some of the dangers of this ingredient. We're used to seeing so many elements on nutritional labels that we don't understand.

Until recently, manufacturers didn't have to let us know what ingredients they included in our food; you had to dig deep to find that information. We're lucky that we live in a world where the consumer comes first.

Breaking down the dangers

Unfortunately, just because we know what's in the food doesn't mean we stop eating it. We need to understand the negative impact it can have on our bodies.

That is why we need to research maltodextrin and know what it can do to us. Here are some of the dangers of this ingredient:

Pour some sugar on me

You might as well tell the food manufacturers to pour sugar down your throat when they include maltodextrin because it has a higher glycemic index than table sugar. It causes extreme spikes and plummets in blood sugar, which is problematic for those with diabetes or hypoglycemia.

High glucose in foods means that they enter the bloodstream quickly and get absorbed fast. This factor leaves you feeling energetic quickly and hungry soon after.

Right in the gut

Some evidence says that maltodextrin has an impact on gut bacteria, which plays a significant role in your overall health. Maltodextrin increases the activity of a specific bacteria which may have a role in the development of Crohn's disease.

It's also clear through research that maltodextrin has a negative impact on those with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivities.

In general, food additives can harm the body and cause allergic reactions. Some of these side effects include excess weight gain, allergies, flatulence, and bloating.

What to use instead

A huge misconception is that ingredients like Stevia or Splenda are better alternatives to sugar. They are not because they contain a higher glycemic index. These things get marketed as alternatives when they are equal to or as bad as the original ingredient.

The only way to avoid these additives is to look for ones that come from fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Looking for health food stores and whole ingredients is the best way to stay away from dangerous food additives.

No More Doritos

white powder on a table

Image via Pixabay

It might seem like a bummer that you can't eat all of your favorite foods, but it's for your own good. Understanding what maltodextrin is, is the first step towards staying away from it. Eating too many processed snack foods with this additive can lead you down a road of life-long health problems. Be smart out there!

What are your favorite maltodextrin-free foods? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.

Featured Image via Pixabay