A review entitled “Polydextrose: Physiological Function and Effects on Health” by Ramiro do Carmo et al. was published in Nutrients. The review examines the literature regarding the health effects of polydextrose (PDX) supplementation.
PDX is not hydrolyzed by digestive enzymes in the small intestine and is therefore gradually and partially fermented by colonic microbiota with approximately 60% being excreted in the feces. The researchers review the findings of research studies conducted with PDX and report the following:
Effects on Mineral Absorption
Research suggests that the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFA) from the partial fermentation of PDX can lower the luminal pH in the colon which makes calcium more soluble leading to increase absorption. Similarly, SCFA can aid in chelation of iron, facilitating passive absorption.
Effects on Microbiota
Some in vivo and in vitro studies have demonstrated that varying doses of PDX may modulate the gut microbiome population.
Effects on Intestinal Cells and Immune Response
Studies conducted using animal or cell models suggest PDX may play a role in improving oxidative stress in intestinal epithelial cells, modulating immunoglobulin A response, and promoting apoptosis of colon cancer cells.
Effects on Blood Glucose and Lipid Metabolism
Some rodent and human research suggests that PDX supplementation can decrease fasting plasma glucose, reduce postprandial glucose peaks, reduce postprandial insulin responses, increase circulation of non-esterified fatty acids, increase postprandial fat oxidation, and decrease postprandial triglycerides.
Effects on Bowel Function
In humans, PDX has been shown to increase bowel transit time and increase total weekly frequency without causing gastrointestinal distress. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Commission Scientific Committee for Food (EC/SCF) concluded that PDX has a mean laxative threshold of ~90g/d (1.3g/kg per week) or 50g as a single dose.
Effects on Energy Intake
PDX has been shown to reduce subjective feelings of appetite and can reduce total energy intake.
The authors conclude that PDX shows evidence of the key characteristics of dietary fibers including “nutrient absorption, changes in intestinal microbiota composition, modulation of immune function, improving postprandial serum glucose and lipid responses, improving bowel function, and influencing dietary intake.”