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Almost 20 years ago I became aware of this now ubiquitous additive now in our foods when working as a personal trainer. You see Maltodextrin is often in protein powders used by bodybuilders and other athletes, as it is a quickly digested carbohydrate that supposedly helps the body build muscle post-workout. (Which, by the way, is no reason for the average person to take these powders – but that is a conversation for another day.)
I saw many people consuming those “meal replacement shakes” for weight loss/muscle building. Yes I did too – briefly – but quit after I developed gut “issues” assuming it was the dairy. Not knowing to ask back then and in light of this information I can’t help but wonder how many people in the gym experienced GI upset. Maybe you or someone you know has had a similar experience. As an aside these products often also contain carrageenan - you should read about that too.
Maltodextrin is found everywhere these days in packaged foods as a filler, thickener, texturizer, or coating agent. It is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose, and can be either moderately sweet (85-135 on glycemic index) or almost flavorless. It is commonly used for the production of sodas and candy and most other packaged foods but is also found in beer to improve mouthfeel and increase head retention.
In the US it is mostly derived from corn, problem #1, but can be created from any starchy grain.
Over 95% of corn grown in this country has been genetically modified with genes from a naturally occurring, soil-borne bacteria that has been used as a pesticide for decades. Bacillus thuringiensis produces a substance known as BT toxin which has never been assessed for the long term health effects on humans. There is much speculation on how this affects the human gut microbiome but there is now interesting information coming to light. While we are waiting for definitive studies I ask you to consider this...
Does it seem wise to consume a modified plant that has bacterial genes placed into its DNA to produce a toxin that paralyzes and dissolves the gut of the pests that chew on it?
Your gut microbiome is your first line of defense against pathogenic (disease creating) microbes. The balance of good and bad bacteria within us is widely believed to be associated with health or a host of diseases namely those of the autoimmune variety (i.e. MS, AS, RA, Crohn’s, etc)
Back to Maltodextrin
A variety of studies are linking the consumption of Maltodextrin to inflammatory bowel disease and other symptoms associated with IBS.
Here is one such conclusion - Maltodextrin..."impairs cellular anti-bacterial responses and suppresses intestinal anti-microbial defense mechanisms”.
Try to eat a few packaged foods as possible and read labels paying closer attention to this nasty additive.
Some of the many foods where you’ll find Maltodextrin
If you or someone you know is experiencing GI distress whether it is IBS or something more serious like Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis, please share the hazards of maltodextrin with them and dive deeper into the studies listed below.
If you found this information useful please leave a comment
Eat well stay well,
Dr. Jerome Craig, DC, Functional Medicine Practitioner
The Food Additive Maltodextrin Promotes Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Driven Mucus Depletion and Exacerbates Intestinal Inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30765332/
Deregulation of intestinal anti-microbial defense by the dietary additive, maltodextrin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4615306/
Crohn’s disease-associated adherent-invasive Escherichia coli adhesion is enhanced by exposure to the ubiquitous dietary polysaccharide maltodextrin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3520894/
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and Food Additives: To Add Fuel on the Flames! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567822/#B24-nutrients-11-01111