What is Dextrose

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Dextrose is a type of sugar that is commonly added to processed foods and baking products, and it can have a number of effects on the body.

What is Dextrose?

Dextrose is a simple monosaccharide which is formed when starchy foods, such as corn, rice or wheat, are broken down. This process is typically done through enzymatic reactions, with the intention of separating out this versatile sugar. It is one of the lesser-known forms of sugar and is found in a surprisingly large number of foods that you consume each day. In comparison to fructose and sucrose, you don’t hear as much about this natural form of sugar which is available after a relatively low level of processing.

As a more subtle form of sweetness than sucrose, this substance is popular in baked goods with delicate flavors, which is why it appears in so many baking products. Not only does it provide sweetness, but it can also help to stabilize foods and help your favorite desserts cook evenly. This is an added sugar in many processed and packaged foods as well, since it can act as a preservative. For those looking to reduce their sugar intake, dextrose should be considered in the same way as other added sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup. Dextrose may have some different functions and properties than sucrose and fructose, but it can still have negative effects on the body when consumed in excess.

Foods Containing Dextrose

For those at high risk for diabetes, or who want to control their blood sugar levels more effectively, the following foods are likely sources of dextrose. The best way to avoid added sugars of this kind is to stick to a natural, organic diet that eliminates highly processed foods.

Health Effects

As is the case of any sugar, consuming too much dextrose can have a number of negative health effects, including an increased risk of diabetes, weight gain, weak immunity, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Understanding these risks and moderating your intake of dextrose-containing foods accordingly is very important.

Diabetes

When your diet is high in sugar of any kind, including dextrose, your risk of diabetes is significantly elevated. When we consume sugar, our body releases insulin to transport the glucose throughout the body’s cells. However, when too much sugar is consumed, the body may become insulin-resistant, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes. Keeping a balanced intake of sugars is the best way to avoid this chronic disease.   

Weight Gain

As mentioned above, the excess sugar is stored in the body as fat, more specifically, adipose fat, which is often stored as subcutaneous and visceral fat. It can be difficult to shed these pounds, and gaining this type of weight is associated with higher levels of inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body.

Immune Strength

Studies have shown that an excess sugar intake can cause the cells of the immune system to be temporarily weakened or inhibited, opening yourself up to pathogens and other bacteria.

Neurodegenerative Disease

Diets high in added sugars have been directly linked with a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases as we age, including Alzheimer’s disease. There are a few theories behind this, including that insulin-resistant cells in the brain will die and speed the degeneration process, as well as the fact that diabetes can weaken blood vessel walls, increasing the risk of mini-strokes that can affect cognitive function.

Cardiovascular Issues

Diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as higher blood pressure and chronic inflammation. For people who consume too much sugar, obesity, diabetes, and heart issues often go hand in hand, so if you are already at high risk for heart problems, reducing your dextrose intake is a wise choice.

Benefits

As you likely know, sugars (in the form of glucose) are the primary energy sources for the body, and dextrose can provide a similar boost of energy, particularly for endurance athletes or as a workout aid. Provided that the sugars you consume are being burned off and used, rather than stored as fat, extra dextrose isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Furthermore, for people who struggle with diabetes or managing their blood sugar levels, dextrose can help to raise blood sugar quickly, stabilizing it within a normal range. In clinical settings, dextrose is used intravenously and in tablet form to stabilize patients going into diabetic shock.

Sugar can obviously be dangerous for the body when regularly consumed in large amounts but in some contexts, dextrose and other sugars are also beneficial for health.

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