Maltodextrin is one of the additives that is often used as a thickener, preservative, or sweetener in packaged foods and beverages. Although classified as safe, this substance is also known to cause certain effects on health, especially when consumed in excess.
Various types of packaged foods and beverages, such as potato chips, biscuits, yogurt, energy drinks, and snacks, usually use additives in the production process. These substances are needed to maintain the quality of the product and make it more durable.
One of the additives that is quite often used as an additive is maltodextrin, which is a type of carbohydrate extracted from plant starch, such as corn, rice, potatoes, and wheat.
Maltodextrin is actually similar to powdered corn syrup, but the sugar content is different. Powdered corn syrup contains at least 20% sugar, while the sugar content in maltodextrin is less and no more than 20%.
Benefits of Maltodextrin in the Food Industry
There are various benefits of maltodextrin in the process of making food and beverages, including:
- Thicken food
- Increase food volume
- Improves consistency and maintains food texture
- Preserving packaged food and beverages
Maltodextrin is also often used as an ingredient in a mixture of sweeteners in foods and beverages. In addition to the food industry, maltodextrin can also be used as a thickener for body care products, such as lotions and shampoos.
Effects of Maltodextrin on Health
BPOM classifies maltodextrin as an additive that is safe for use in the manufacture of processed foods and beverages. However, these additives cannot be used as preservatives for baby food or medicines.
Although relatively safe, maltodextrin is known to cause some side effects, especially if used in excess. The following are some of the effects of maltodextrin on body health:
Disturbing the health of the digestive tract
In the human digestive tract, there are good bacteria or probiotics that function to protect the digestive system from disease-causing bacteria and maintain digestive function.
Some research shows that maltodextrin can inhibit the growth of probiotics, so it can disrupt the balance of the number of good bacteria in the intestine.
Maltodextrin is also referred to as one of the substances that can increase the risk of several diseases in the gastrointestinal tract, such as colitis and colon cancer.
Increase blood sugar
Maltodextrin has a high glycemic index (GI), so it can cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly. In comparison, the glycemic index of table sugar is 65, while that of maltodextrin is 106–136. This effect of maltodextrin can be dangerous for people who have insulin resistance or diabetes.
However, in certain cases, maltodextrin can also provide benefits to the body. First, because it is quickly absorbed by the body, maltodextrin can be a source of calories and energy for those who have high activity, such as athletes or bodybuilders.
Second, because it can quickly increase blood sugar levels, maltodextrin can also be used to treat hypoglycemia or conditions of low blood sugar levels in the body. This condition often occurs in people who are receiving diabetes medication or are on an extreme diet.
Tips for Taking Maltodextrin
To reduce the risk of maltodextrin side effects, you should limit or avoid consuming too many processed foods or drinks that contain additives.
Get used to eating foods and drinks made from fresh ingredients, such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, chicken, beef, eggs, and nuts, without added preservatives, sweeteners, or other additives.
If you want to consume packaged food or drinks, look at the composition on the packaging label. When you want to use artificial sweeteners, you can choose healthier alternatives, such as stevia, honey, brown sugar, or corn syrup.
Maltodextrin actually does not have a bad impact on health as long as it is consumed in reasonable quantities and not too often. However, you need to be aware of the side effects of maltodextrin if you consume too many packaged foods or drinks that contain this substance.
If you experience complaints, such as diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting, after consuming food or drinks containing maltodextrin, immediately consult a doctor for treatment.