Polydextrose: Usage, Potential Health Benefits, Possible Side-effects, and Warnings

polydextrose definition

It’s an oligosaccharide made in laboratories used as food additive and possible medicine.

An oligosaccharide is a type of polymeric carbohydrate usually found in many plants.

This saccharide polymer can function as Prebiotic, which means it contributes to the growth or development of certain kinds of bacteria in the colon.

These bacteria play a significant role in the digestive system processes because they help the body to break down carbohydrates.

Polydextrose is a synthetic oligosaccharide. Several people use it in food and medicines.

There is limited research about the benefits and potential side-effects the use of Polydextrose may have on the human body.

That is why most of the information available about this synthetic compound is based mostly on theories rather than research.


When it comes to the food industry, people use Polydextrose as a sweetener and, in other cases, this saccharide polymer can also improve the texture of some food products.

However, in the field of medicine, scientists use it as a prebiotic, a non-digestible compound that stimulates the growth of a limited number of bacteria found in the colon and ultimately improves health.

This process occurs when the fermentation of one or more biochemical components in the ingested food induce the development of the gut flora.

But, for such a thing to happen, the biochemical compound must pass into the colon undigested.

That is the case of Polydextrose, which reaches the large intestine and promotes the growth of the specific group of bacteria that benefits the human body.

People consider Polydextrose as dietary fiber, and everyone can find it in beverages, some bakery items, no-added-sugar and sugar-free breakfast cereals, puddings, dairy products, and salad dressings.

Polydextrose is available as a powder used to replace sugar as well as providing bulk, texture, mouthfeel and preservative qualities to food.

When it comes to medication, some doctors may order patients to add specific amounts of Polydextrose powder a drink to take it by mouth.

More often than not, medical experts may use it in adults due to the fact there is no proof of how safe or useful Polydextrose is for infants and children.

In some cases, 16 grams of Polydextrose in four deciliters of water proved to be useful in lowering levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

Potential Health Benefits of Polydextrose

Usually, the small intestine absorbs minerals like iron and calcium. The elements that this organ can’t incorporate into the body go to the colon where they either get absorbed or fermented by the gut flora.

The bacteria slowly ferment Polydextrose producing Short-chain Fatty Acids, molecules that facilitate the passive absorption of minerals in the colon and possibly improve energy metabolism.

Polydextrose may also have a positive impact on the gut flora. Some studies show that it can beneficially modify the colonic microbial composition and activity.

The slow fermentation of Polydextrose leads to the sustained production of short-chain fatty acids, which can enhance absorption of minerals potentially in the colon and improve gastrointestinal function.

That is why some medical experts think the use of Polydextrose can result in the relief of constipation and softer stools.

Another benefit of this prebiotic is the potential improvement of the immune functions.

Sometimes, prebiotic can interfere with a disease process by promoting the development of bifidobacteria.

The term Bifidobacteria describes a group of lactic acid bacteria that reduce the activity of harmful bacteria and modulates the immune response of the body.

Theoretically speaking, Polydextrose may reduce intestinal inflammation and colonic damage.

A few researchers even conclude this prebiotic may be useful in dealing with conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Some experts think Polydextrose may help to prevent and treat Obesity and reduce the risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), diabetes, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Possible Side-effects

Using high amounts of Polydextrose can result in gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, increased stool size, gas, and bloating.

If a patient suffers from a disease in the kidneys, using this biochemical compound can potentially damage the organ.

While it’s true that Polydextrose may lower the levels of blood sugar, it can also cause a decrease in insulin.

That means experts need to proceed with caution in cases of patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia. Especially if such patients are taking medication intended to alleviate their respective conditions.

There is no study conducted on the possible effects of Polydextrose in pregnant or breastfeeding women. However, doctors recommend avoiding this prebiotic during gestation or lactation.


While most people consider Polydextrose is likely safe when used as a food additive. Some experts state that the ingested amount should never surpass 15 grams per day.

When patients take it orally for medicinal purposes, the ingested dose should be less than 50 grams per day.