Polydextrose E1200

Polydextrose, often appearing as E1200 on food labels, is a common ingredient in a variety of food products, supplements, and dietary aids. Its name, combining the prefix 'poly-' with 'dextrose' (another term for glucose), hints at its complex carbohydrate nature. Indeed, polydextrose is an artificial polysaccharide, or a long-chain carbohydrate made up of smaller sugar molecules, that is indigestible. It is classified as a soluble fiber and is frequently used in food and supplement manufacturing.

Breaking Down the Composition

Polydextrose is primarily composed of glucose, accounting for about 90% of its composition. It also contains a small amount of sorbitol (10%) and citric acid (1%). These different components are linked together by alpha 1,6 bonds, a type of chemical bond that cannot be broken down by the amylase enzymes in our saliva and pancreas.

Sensory Characteristics

In terms of its physical characteristics, polydextrose is a white powder with a neutral and clean smell. It has a slightly sweet taste, although its sweetness is only about one-sixth as potent as regular table sugar. This makes it an ideal ingredient for food products that aim to reduce sugar content without compromising on taste.

Prebiotic and Laxative Properties

Despite being a fiber that is largely excreted intact, polydextrose still has a caloric value of one Kcal per gram. Interestingly, it has demonstrated prebiotic properties in animal studies, meaning it can serve as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria.

The partial fermentation of polydextrose in the large intestine, particularly when consumed with ample water, can increase fecal mass and speed up intestinal transit. This makes it potentially useful as a laxative, although high doses can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as abdominal cramps and flatulence.

The fermentation of polydextrose by intestinal bacteria not only supports the growth of beneficial microflora but also inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. This process also decreases fecal pH, increases the production of short-chain fatty acids, and suppresses the production of harmful metabolites.

Impact on Blood Sugar Levels

Being a type of fiber, polydextrose has a low glycemic index, meaning it does not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. It can slow down the digestion of starches and the absorption of sugars, thereby reducing the overall glycemic index and load of a meal. In one study, it was found that consuming 12 grams of polydextrose with 50 grams of glucose resulted in an 11% lower increase in blood sugar levels compared to consuming the same amount of glucose alone.

In conclusion, polydextrose is a versatile ingredient with a range of potential health benefits. It serves as a low-calorie sweetener, a source of dietary fiber, a prebiotic, and a means of controlling blood sugar levels. However, like any food ingredient, it should be consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.

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