What is polydextrose

If you have a habit of reading what is written on food packaging, you may have come across a food ingredient called polydextrose. It is characterized as a type of indigestible prebiotic. It’s extracted from carbohydrates such as galactose, xylose and fructose, also known as fruit sugar. Read the article to understand exactly what polydextrose is and where we can find it in our diet.



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What is polydextrose (PDX)?

Polydextrose, also known as “PDX”, is a form of sugar that is nowadays widely used in many applications, mainly in the food industry and in the pharmaceutical sector. Many people believe that polydextrose is an organic compound and occurs naturally, but this is not true. Polydextrose is a chain of sugar molecules linked together and is made from two sugar molecules which are dextrose and sorbitol and is chemically synthesized. Its raw material is corn-starch derivatives (dextrose and sorbitol).

Polydextrose is used in food industries mainly in beverages. PDX is used as a sweetener and/or additive to improve the texture of foods. Eg used in coca-cola, soft drinks as fiber, no-added-sugar, sugar-free cereals, snacks, bakery items, beverages, dairy products, and sauces. It is also used in the Pharmaceutical industry for therapeutic and other benefits. Which are having a scientific foundation and are observed in consumers. We have discussed all of them here.


What science says

Studies show the laxative effect of polydextrose (PDX) in several pieces of literature. They have demonstrated that PDX intake has significantly reduced their colonic transit time and increased the frequency of stool in constipated individuals compared to placebo or consuming no PDX in their diet [1][2][3].


Several other studies have also shown the benefits of polydextrose on weight loss, bodyweight management, reducing obesity, and increased satiety by suppressing appetite and decreasing the amount of energy intake in subsequent meals after its consumption[4][5]. One study also found its effect on glucose metabolism which also facilitates and takes a major role in weight management and inhibits obesity [6].


Which foods are rich in polydextrose?

Brown oats in clear glass jar

To consume polydextrose, you can look for foods derived from wheat. For instance, wholemeal cookies, bread and flour, as well as rye, oats, honey and brown sugar, which are other sources of food ingredients. The substance can also be found in powder form. It is sold in powder, in the form of soluble fiber or in a mixture of fibers. It is added to juices, fruit smoothies, milk, yogurt, soups, bread doughs, cakes and pastries


How polydextrose works and its benefits on your health 

Polydextrose holds many therapeutic benefits and some other impactful benefits to ease your life. All are discussed below with their working mechanism. All these benefits are found through studies, and by observing the consumers. These benefits might vary in terms of their effectiveness from individual to individual.

Constipation relief with its laxative effect

Polydextrose is a potent laxative. It passes undigested food into the colon, where it increases bowel mass and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, which induce a smooth bowel movement and relieves your constipation it even increases the frequency of your bowel movements.

Controls diabetes and is insulin friendly

PDX helps you achieve lower blood sugar levels by fiber enrichment, PDX is a soluble fiber. It does not spike sugar levels or raise blood sugar as compared to any sugar additive. Compared to glucose having a high glycemic index of 100, polydextrose has a glycemic index of 710. It is also observed that the blood sugar levels after the consumption of equal quantities of sugar and polydextrose resulted in a lower blood sugar rise when compared to glucose. PDX has also shown a lower response to insulin in type diabetic patients.

Long-term weight management

By using polydextrose in place of other additives in your diet, you can manage your weight. It may help reduce your calorie intake due to its satiety-inducing nature. Polydextrose is used as a replacement for higher calorie components (e.g., fat or sugars) in food and beverages. It helps in the development of fewer calorie foods. It has a caloric value of only 1 kcal/g. Studies and findings suggest that polydextrose may also increase satiety and reduce calorie intake at a subsequent meal.

Controls hunger and increases satiety 

Polydextrose suppresses hunger in subsequent meals and effects immediately after eating it. This shows its high satiety properties, so if you are binging on these foods polydextrose will make you feel full.


Consume it instead of carbs to lose weight

Polydextrose can be used as a carbohydrate replacement option in your diet. By replacing existing carbohydrates in your diet, it will not only suppress your hunger but can also significantly increase your fatty acid oxidation for up to a day. This is due to the synergistic effect of a decrease in your carbohydrate intake and a low-calorie diet, facilitating the breakdown of fat for energy.

Increase your good intestinal bacteria

Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are the dominant species of your good gut bacteria. As PDX is a fiber it gets digested in your lower gastrointestinal tract where it becomes food for the good bacteria and results in increasing your colonic flora. Polydextrose is also used as a prebiotic in supplements. It significantly increased the proportion of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, and even lowered the number of harmful bacteria. A healthy gut is associated with so many benefits and keeping obesity at bay.

Anti-Cancer and anti-inflammatory properties

Polydextrose and some other fibers produce fatty acids in your intestines, out of which butyrate is a major anti-carcinogenic compound. Apart from this other fatty acids also have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, anti-tumorigenic, and antimicrobial effects. The modern “high fatty and sugary” diet has contributed to an increased risk for colorectal cancer. Hence PDX consumption can help you combat it by the beneficial properties of butyrate, which has been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation and cause colorectal cancer cell death.

Treat your eczema and get glowing skin 

Polydextrose is taken via mouth administration to treat scaly, itchy skin (eczema). It is also used for infant eczema (Cradle cap), because of its anti-inflammatory properties. The healing impact on eczema depends on its severity and is unknown, more study is required but PDX consumers have seen an improvement in their eczema flare-ups.


Recommended dosage of polydextrose

Polydextrose is used as a food additive, and the dosage depends on the overall weight of the meal. It is somewhere used in a quantity of 10- 15 grams/meal.

Polydextrose is safe to use when taken by mouth administration in the quantity of fewer than 50 grams per day split into 2-3 doses. No minor side effects were visibly linked to gastrointestinal problems.

Dietary requirements for daily fiber intake per 1000 calories are 14gm, and most of the population consumes near to 2000 calories a day. This equals 28gm of fiber a day, which can be consumed via PDX and other fibers.


Polydextrose side effects and precautions

Polydextrose has shown side effects when taken by mouth in single doses of more than 50 grams or in more quantity. High doses of polydextrose might cause severe diarrhea, gas, and flatulence.


Warnings:

1. During Pregnancy: Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid taking high doses of polydextrose because there is a lack of knowledge on its effect on the newborn.

2. Administration: It should not be taken intravenously for any purposes. 

3. Use in Children: Polydextrose is safe for infants when added to water or milk at concentrations of approximately 2-4 grams/L.


Conclusion

Incorporating dietary fiber into your diet is vital for balanced nutrition. Consuming a variety of fibers will have different health benefits, and it may promote other beneficial metabolic processes because no two fibers are the same. Polydextrose is emerging in the food industry and is widely accepted as a sweetener option due to its low caloric values and other benefits.

Fiber can be found in a variety of foods like oats, bread, etc. The amount of fiber per serving can easily be found by looking at the Nutrition Facts on the behind of any food item and should be consumed according to your caloric intake and dietary needs.



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