Maltodextrin? Have you ever seen this on a label? You may of or you may not have, but more than likely you have probably consumed a lot of it in your lifetime. This is especially true if you are regularly eating foods that have been packaged and processed such as salad dressings, frozen yogurt, spice mixes, cereals, candy, baked goods, ‘fat-free’, and ‘sugar-free’ products.
So, what is it?
Maltodextrin is a sweet carbohydrate food additive that comes from primarily corn or rice starch. It can also come from wheat and potatoes. Maltodextrin gives a fat-like body to food products, increases their shelf life, and mixes quite well with other ingredients. It’s also cheap to produce as well as add to products. The food industry and the diet focused food products love this ingredient because they can use it in their food and say ‘low’ or ‘no sugar’. Though not a sugar, it still has a GI (glycemic index) of 130 by itself (table sugar is only 65)! The glycemic index is a measurement of how quickly blood sugar rises after eating it. It’s high glycemic index, which creates a huge upswing in blood sugar, results in a huge upswing of a hormone insulin. Insulin is the hormone secreted from your pancreas which is responsible for making sure the sugar levels in your blood are at an optimal level. I am sure many of you have heard of diabetics who have to take insulin to regulate their sugars. The long term effect of constantly eating foods containing maltodextrin is that your body will begin to secrete more and more insulin.
The problem with insulin is that it is a growth hormone. This allows tumor cells to grow more rapidly and causes a hormonal imbalance in the sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone). This in turn can cause women to have irregular and/or heavy periods, increased facial hair growth, feelings of irritability, endometriosis, polycystic ovary disease and even infertility. In men, high estrogen and testosterone levels can lead to baldness, growth of the breasts, and prostate cancer. High insulin levels also lead to elevated cholesterol, and an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. Elevated insulin levels have also been associated with mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. There is even a new coined name for Alzheimer’s, it is beginning to be referred to as type 3 diabetes. Are you getting the point now? High glycemic indexed foods result in a hormonal storm that you want to avoid!
Another reason you want to avoid this dangerous food is because the extra sugar in the blood, from this evil additive, causes insulin to take the sugar and store it. I bet you can guess where that might be? That’s right, fat! But I bet you didn’t know it also stores it in the liver. This in turn causes fatty liver, which is now the number one disease in America, affecting 90 million Americans. As a functional medicine clinic looking to discover the cause of our patient’s problems we can test our patients insulin and estrogen levels to discover if these hormones are a mechanism involved in their health challenges.
It is no wonder we are so unhealthy, we were told Cheerios are heart healthy, they are even certified by the American Heart Association. Yet, the first three ingredients listed for Cheerios are whole grain oats (severely processed which raises the GI to 70), sugar (GI 65), and corn starch (GI of 95)! Ensure has been marketed as a nutritional shake to give to our children when sick or our elderly that need a boost to their nutrition. The first three ingredients used to make Ensure are water (good), Sugar (bad), and Corn Maltodextrin (bad). How is this supposed to help our sick children or elderly? Sugar breeds bacteria and allows for viruses to multiply faster while at the same time suppressing the immune system. I hope you are starting to see the entire picture now. Do your homework, read your labels, and check the GI of your foods by using online calculators.