The Maltodextrin Plant

Now that I’ve lost the weight (rub it in already), my new goal is to focus more on a natural diet. I’ve struggled with certain health issues for the majority of my life and it seems that every time I go to a doctor’s office, they try to prescribe whatever drug that will give them the biggest kickback from their rep. Generally the effect is even worst than the cause so I decided to take my personal health into my own hands. The thought of my breakfast chemically combining in my gut doesn’t particularly sit well with me either.

In an attempt to be realistic, I have decided to switch out one food product every month that contains harsh chemicals with a more natural brand. What I’ve found though, is that I don’t always know what is really natural and what isn’t. So for the next week I am going to pick something out of my kitchen and research one of the ingredients on its label that I’m unfamiliar with and then share my findings with you be it good, bad, or neutral. Now before I get bombarded with celery eating enthusiasts, let me put the disclaimer out there that I didn’t study this information in a nutrition class and am certainly not claiming to be an expert in any form or fashion. But hey, you gotta start somewhere so let the Googling begin…

Maltodextrin | Triscuits (Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil)
I was really hoping this one passed because although I’ve seen the unfamiliar names on the label, I’ve disregarded them hoping they were fancy terms for natural ingredients. But alas, my worse fears have come true and it looks like Triscuits will no longer be gracing my pantry shelf. Although Maltodextrin comes from natural plants that are generally starch based, it is ultimately stuffed with acids (my favorite snack food) and enzymes and then highly processed. It’s generally used to thicken foods and can be found in all sorts of sauces, snacks, and sports drinks. It can very negatively affect your blood sugar and is also known for contributing to gut infections due to it’s ability to suppress the good bacteria in our stomach. Yay Maltodextrin. (Sources: Is Maltodextrin Bad for Me? and What is Maltodextrin?)

BHT (for Freshness) | Kellogg’s Special K Low Fat Granola (Touch of Honey)
Let’s start with what else BHT is used in, like…. jet fuel. Embalming fluid. Rubber. It’s also combustible, which is super awesome, if I wanted to become a human firework. It has toxic effects on the liver, the lungs, and the kidneys (we’ve got an overachiever on our hands). It’s also promotes the growth of tumors, in case you wanted one of those. To be fair, most studies actually agree that the nutritional value of the products BHT is in generally outweigh the negative effects of the ingredient itself, although I’m not particularly sold. (Source: What is BHT and Why Should Avoid It? and BHT in My Cereal?)

Tocopherois (Preservative) | Quaker Gluten Free! Popped Rice Crisps (BBQ)
Tocopheral is a naturally occurring element that is most generically called vitamin E. It is found in many natural foods but can sometimes be added to processed foods to supplement vitamin intake. As with most foods, tocopheral should be taken in moderation. It is an antioxidant that is known to help battle disease but in great amounts can be dangerous to individuals with certain health issues and pregnant mothers. Another thing to consider is that although it can be extracted from a natural source, it can also be genetically modified and placed in processed foods (cough, cough…. Quaker Popped Rice Crisps…) as well. (Sources: What is Tocopherol? and Synthetic Vitamin E…)

Emulsifier | Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar
Yes, I splurged and ate chocolate, but all in the name of research. Explaining an emulsifier is not an easy task, so for generic purposes, let’s just say it helps hold foods together. Ice cream, chocolate, mayonnaise, etc all go through a process of mixing oils and waters together and the emulsifier helps make this possible. It is heavily seen in processed foods (I’m starting to see a common theme here). It can increase your chance of becoming obese and studies have also shown that it can negatively impact the bacteria within your intestinal tract. (Sources: You are What You Eat: Food Additive Emulsifier… and Emulsifiers in Food)

Riboflavin | Silk Vanilla Almond Milk
We’ve got another vitamin on our hands! Riboflavin is actually vitamin B2 and is in many sugary foods, meats, and dairy products. B vitamins help produce energy and build red blood cells in our body. It helps reduce the risk of cancer, migraines, cramps, and certain blood disorders. Most people get plenty of B2 in their diet through diary and meat products, although elderly people and alcoholics may be at risk for a riboflavin deficiency. For the rest of us, it’s almost impossible to overdose and is generally considered safe, even in high doses. It looks like my Almond Milk is here to stay. (Sources: Vitamin Watch: What Does B2 Do?Riboflavin, and Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Farina | Thomas Original English Muffins
Here’s yet another fancy word for a relatively natural ingredient. Farina is a type of ground wheat that is commonly known as Cream of Wheat (although there are slight differences). It is a great source of calcium, iron, protein, and B vitamins. It is also a source of gluten, so anyone with Celiac Disease should steer clear of this ingredient. (Sources: What are the Health Benefits of Cream of Wheat and The Difference Between Cream of Wheat and Farina)

Phosphoric Acid | StarKist Tuna Creations (Sweet & Spicy)
This acid is a clear syrupy liquid that often gives sodas their tangy flavor. It is more acidic than lemon juice and vinegar and is often used to remove rust (great on the stomach lining, I’m sure). Although it is most prevalent in meats and dairy products, it can be found in all sorts of food products and has been proven to lead to lower bone density and tooth enamel erosion. (Sources: 11 Quick Facts About Phosphoric Acid and Why is Phosphoric Acid Bad for You?)

Now go eat some broccoli already…


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One thought on “The Maltodextrin Plant

  1. Good for you, Brittney! It took me until I hit my 50s for me to get a grip on what’s really in the “food like substances” masquerading as nutrition in the American grocery stores. I’d love to cook you an organic meal sometime, maybe in Costa Rica!


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