Maltodextrin is a sugar, specifically a polysaccharide that breaks down into glucose as it is digested, and so the most widespread maltodextrin side effects are the same as those associated with excessive sugar consumption, such as weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
While maltodextrin consumption doesn’t cause these health problems by itself, it’s presence in the food we eat can contribute to them. Sugar consumption is at an all-time high in the standard American diet, and is increasing in other parts of the world as well. The addition of maltodextrin to processed foods is just one more way that additional sugar enters ours diets.
Individuals with diabetes, celiac disease, or allergies to particular starches should be wary regarding their consumption of maltodextrin. Dangers include insulin spikes and possible reactions to gluten or other substances that could be present in minute amounts in the food additive. If you have any of these ailments, it’s generally a good idea to avoid eating processed foods altogether.
There are many anecdotal reports online and elsewhere of people experiencing maltodextrin side effects, however, there are no peer-reviewed studies that specifically confirm maltodextrin intolerance or malabsorption. Since maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate made up of chains of glucose, these people may be experiencing some type of carbohydrate intolerance or malabsorption, either of maltodextrin itself or of other carbohydrates, such as sorbitol, fructose, raffinose, or galactose, which can often be found in the same processed foods as maltodextrin.
In any case, the symptoms experienced by those reporting side effects of maltodextrin consumption are similar to those of most carbohydrate intolerances and include.:
- Upset stomach
These types of reactions directly to maltodextrin are rare, and if you experience them, consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Perhaps the most common dangers are not in the consumption of maltodextrin itself, but in eating the kinds of foods that often contain it. Maltodextrin is added to a wide variety of processed foods as discussed in the article What is Maltodextrin? Basics, including many so-called health and diet foods. You will also find it on the list of ingredients in most “junk” foods, along with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and salt.
As a food additive, pure maltodextrin is designated “Generally Recognized as Safe,” by the FDA. You often see this designation abbreviated as GRAS. However, GRAS does not mean that maltodextrin is a healthy, nutritional addition to our food.
The easiest way to avoid any possible maltodextrin side effects is to eat a balanced diet of whole foods while avoiding any processed foods or artificial sugar substitutes.