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5+ Benefits of Resistant Maltodextrin + Safety & Side Effects

Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
SelfDecode Science Team | Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:

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Maltodextrin usually brings to mind a processed sugar added to packaged foods. However, another form of maltodextrin is a digestion-resistant dietary fiber that may promote gut health and prevent diabetes. Read on to learn more.

What are Maltodextrins?

Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate (polysaccharide) derived from plant sources, such as rice, potato, corn or wheat [1].

Maltodextrin exists in either a digestible or a digestion-resistant form [2].

The digestible form of maltodextrin (MD) is a good source of energy, but it can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health issues [3, 4].

Resistant maltodextrin (RMD) is a dietary fiber that enhances gut health, improves digestion problems, and prevents diabetes and obesity [5, 6].

What is Maltodextrin (Digestible)?

The digestible maltodextrin is a common ingredient in foods and the one associated with health dangers. Although maltodextrin is a plant extract, it is highly processed. This white powder is industrially produced by breaking down starch (with enzymes or acids), followed by purification. The final product is tasteless and soluble in water [7, 8, 1, 9].

Maltodextrin is used as a food additive to [1, 10]:

  • Provide a cheap source of energy in sports drinks
  • Enhance texture or flavor
  • Preserve packaged or canned foods
  • Prevent ice growth in frozen foods
  • Thicken liquids similar to gelatin
  • Replace sugar or fat in low-calorie foods

It is also used as a filler or a preservative in medical or cosmetic products [1, 10].

Maltodextrin has around 4 kcal/gr and a very high glycemic index, around 100 [1, 11].

What is Resistant Maltodextrin?

Unlike regular maltodextrin, digestion resistant maltodextrin can be a health-enhancing substance. It is a dietary fiber produced by a chemical process that changes the bonds between the sugars, making it impossible to digest [5, 12].

You may know about Hi-Maize and raw potato starch, two other types of resistant starch. Resistant maltodextrin is another type of resistant starch (type 3, 4 or 5) [5, 13, 14].

Since resistant starch cannot be digested by the small intestine, it passes to the gut intact. Gut bacteria in the colon ferment it into vitamin K2 and beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate. Resistant starch also helps good bacteria grow and stay balanced [15].

Resistant maltodextrin promotes digestion, bowel movements, and gut health. It has powerful effects on general wellness and its ingestion has been inversely linked to diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, and inflammatory conditions [5, 15, 16].

Resistant maltodextrin is a white powder with a neutral taste. It has a low glycemic index and around 2-2.5 kcal per gram [13, 5, 17, 18, 19].

Maltodextrin vs. Resistant Maltodextrin

Note: For simplicity, we’ll refer to the regular, digestible maltodextrin simply as “maltodextrin” in the rest of this article while digestion-resistant maltodextrin will be referred to as “resistant maltodextrin”.

It is clear that maltodextrin and resistant maltodextrin only sound similar. However, these two sugars are completely different when it comes to their benefits and risks.

The potential benefits of maltodextrin versus resistant maltodextrin include [5, 20, 21, 22, 13, 23, 1, 5, 15, 16]:

Resistant Maltodextrin vs Maltodextrin Health Benefits

The health risks of maltodextrin versus resistant maltodextrin [24, 25, 26, 27, 1, 28]:

Resistant Maltodextrin vs Maltodextrin Health Risks

Benefits of Resistant Maltodextrin

Mechanism of Action

Resistant maltodextrin is believed to enhance gut health by [19, 29, 30]:

  • Promoting the growth of good gut bacteria
  • Improving stool weight, consistency, and bowel movements

According to some researchers, resistant maltodextrin has potential against obesity, diabetes, and heart disease because, in various studies, it has [31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39]:

  • Reduced belly fat and body weight
  • Decreased food intake
  • Increased satiety hormones (glucagon-like peptide-1 and peptide YY)
  • Lowered the production of the “hunger” hormone (ghrelin)
  • Reduced blood sugar levels and insulin resistance
  • Blocked fat absorption and enhanced the elimination of dietary fats

It may also prevent cancer and enhance immune function by [40, 41, 35, 42, 43]:

  • Blocking the growth of cancer cells and tumors
  • Decreasing endotoxins, inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress markers (TNF-a, IFN gamma, MDA)
  • Increasing protective antibodies and anti-inflammatory substances (IgA, butyrate, IL-10)

Possibly Effective For

1) Digestive Health

Resistant starches can do wonders for your gut health, especially if you are prone to gut microbiome imbalances. In several clinical studies of over 900 people, resistant maltodextrin increased stool weight, stool consistency, and bowel movement frequency compared to placebo [19, 44, 45, 46, 42, 30].

In clinical studies of over 200 people, resistant maltodextrin enhanced the growth of good gut bacteria, including [19, 29, 44, 47, 48]:

  • Bifidobacterium
  • Ruminococcus
  • Eubacterium
  • Lactobacillus
  • Lachnospiraceae
  • Bacteroides
  • Holdemania
  • Faecalibacterium

In a clinical trial of 32 people with constipation, resistant maltodextrin with inulin improved bowel movements and decreased straining and incomplete emptying [49].

In rats, resistant maltodextrin promoted the growth of beneficial bacteria (Bifidobacterium) and decreased harmful gut bacteria (Clostridium perfringens). In piglets, resistant it prevented ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disorder [50, 51].

2) Diabetes

As a resistant starch, this type of maltodextrin will help keep your blood sugar level stable after meals. In a meta-analysis of over 900 people, resistant maltodextrin blocked the increase of blood sugar after meals (postprandial glycemia) [37].

In a 12-week clinical study on 60 overweight men, resistant maltodextrin decreased blood glucose and insulin levels. It increased a weight-loss protein called adiponectin that blocks glucose production. Adiponectin is also likely to be increased in people with lectin sensitivity [39].

In a clinical study on 55 women with type 2 diabetes, resistant maltodextrin lowered insulin resistance. In 13 people, resistant maltodextrin reduced insulin production after meals. It also reduced blood sugar levels in a 12-week clinical study on 30 people with metabolic syndrome [36, 52, 35].

In rats, RMD enhanced the GLP-1 (Glucagon-like-peptide 1) production, a hormone that lowers blood sugar and insulin levels [6, 53, 54].

3) Obesity

In several clinical studies of over 300 overweight people, resistant maltodextrin reduced body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat. In one 12-week clinical study of 30 people with metabolic syndrome, it decreased waist circumference and belly fat [31, 55, 35].

In clinical studies of over 160 overweight men, resistant maltodextrin decreased feelings of hunger, increased satiety, and reduced and food intake. In another study on 32 healthy people, it decreased levels of the “hunger” hormone (ghrelin), lowered feelings of hunger and improved satiety [31, 32, 33, 34].

In rats, resistant maltodextrin reduced body weight, belly fat, and suppressed excess food intake [56, 6, 50].

Insufficient Evidence For

The following purported benefits are only supported by limited, low-quality clinical studies. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of resistant maltodextrin for any of the below-listed uses. Remember to speak with a doctor before using resistant maltodextrin for health reasons, and never use it in place of something your doctor recommends or prescribes.

4) Blood Lipids

In a 12-week clinical study of 60 overweight men, resistant maltodextrin increased HDL- cholesterol, lowered total cholesterol, LDL- cholesterol, VLDL- cholesterol, and triglycerides. Several other studies on both healthy people and those with metabolic syndrome confirmed its triglyceride-lowering benefits [39, 35, 52].

The same was found in rats, in which resistant maltodextrin blocked the increase of triglycerides after eating. In hamsters, RMD together with inulin increased HDL- cholesterol, reduced levels of all harmful fats, echoing the benefits observed in humans [52, 57].

5) Immune Function

In a clinical study 55 women with diabetes type 2, resistant maltodextrin decreased a wide range of harmful immune markers, including endotoxins, inflammatory cytokines (TNF-a, IFN gamma), and malondialdehyde (MDA) (a marker for oxidative stress). Resistant maltodextrin also increased IL-10 (Interleukin-10), an anti-inflammatory cytokine [35, 42].

In mice, this resistant starch increased the production of IgA and butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that enhances immune function and protects the gut [43].

Animal Research (Lacking Evidence)

No clinical evidence supports the use of resistant maltodextrin for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

6) Mineral Absorption

Resistant starch may aid nutrient absorption and reduce the likelihood of nutrient deficiencies. Resistant maltodextrin can bring all the proven benefits of resistant starch on mineral and vitamin D levels. In rats, resistant maltodextrin improved the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc – all essential minerals needed to maintain optimal health [58].

Cancer Research

In mice, resistant maltodextrin blocked the growth of breast and colon cancer cells and increased cancer cell death. In cell studies, it suppressed the growth of colon cancer cells. More research on its cancer-fighting potential is needed [40, 59, 41].

Side Effects & Safety

In human, animal, and cell studies, resistant maltodextrin was very safe [60].

Common side effects were very mild and included [37, 13, 24, 46]:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain and fullness with high doses
  • Gurgling sounds
  • Diarrhea or watery stools

To avoid adverse effects and unexpected interactions, talk to your doctor before using either type of maltodextrin for health reasons.

Limitations and Caveats

There are quite a few clinical trials examining the effect of resistant maltodextrin on gut health and the prevention of obesity and diabetes. However, some other health benefits are supported mainly by animal and cell studies, whereas the clinical studies only have a small number of participants.

Moreover, there is insufficient research on resistant maltodextrin health risks. More research on the risk effects and health benefits of resistant maltodextrin should be encouraged.

Forms and Dosage

There is no safe and effective dose of resistant maltodextrin because no sufficiently powered study has been conducted to find one. The dosage of resistant maltodextrin in clinical studies ranged from 9 – 60 g per day [35, 19, 52, 29, 33, 46].

The maximum dosage for men that did not cause diarrhea was 1 g/kg body weight, whereas women could take 1.1 g/kg body weight [24].

Further Reading

About the Author

Puya Yazdi

Puya Yazdi

MD
Dr. Puya Yazdi is a physician-scientist with 14+ years of experience in clinical medicine, life sciences, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals.
As a physician-scientist with expertise in genomics, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals, he has made it his mission to bring precision medicine to the bedside and help transform healthcare in the 21st century.He received his undergraduate education at the University of California at Irvine, a Medical Doctorate from the University of Southern California, and was a Resident Physician at Stanford University. He then proceeded to serve as a Clinical Fellow of The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine at The University of California at Irvine, where he conducted research of stem cells, epigenetics, and genomics. He was also a Medical Director for Cyvex Nutrition before serving as president of Systomic Health, a biotechnology consulting agency, where he served as an expert on genomics and other high-throughput technologies. His previous clients include Allergan, Caladrius Biosciences, and Omega Protein. He has a history of peer-reviewed publications, intellectual property discoveries (patents, etc.), clinical trial design, and a thorough knowledge of the regulatory landscape in biotechnology.He is leading our entire scientific and medical team in order to ensure accuracy and scientific validity of our content and products.

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