What is Wheat Dextrin

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If you suffer from Celiac disease this article should be very important for your.  For others, who are not aware of what Celiac disease is – it is kind of allergy to Gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat bran.  Bran is the outer covering of the wheat seeds.  Usually wheat bran is used to provide relief in constipation by increasing the bowel function in the colon.  It also helps in providing some relief in stomach pain caused by IBS and lowers the blood pressure.

The allergy to Gluten may be just an irritant such as stomach ache for some people.  But for many others, it can be life threatening.  The alergic reactions can be extreme and it can cause swelling of wind pipe, throat, and face apart from reactions in the other organs.  People with celiac disease need to avoid eating or consuming any items which contain wheat or gluten.  Now a days it is mandatory for food products manufacturers to mention on the packet if it contains gluten.

What is Wheat Dextrin?

This article talks about a fiber product which is made from wheat. So if you are allergic to gluten then mere mention of wheat may start to trigger alarm bells in your mind.  And that is a natural reaction.  But do you need to be careful about Wheat Dextrin too?  This article will help you to find out more about wheat dextrin.

Wheat dextrin is basically wheat starch extracted from wheat which is further treated chemically.  To understand in a simple manner when gluten is extracted from the wheat, one of the byproducts is wheat dextrin. Wheat dextrin has variety of uses. It us used in textile industry, as dietary fiber supplement and used commercially for many other uses.

Brief Description of How Dextrin is Produced

To explain in simple words, the starch in the wheat seeds is treated with acids and enzymes and water is added to it.  It is then left to remain suspended in water for some time. It is then heated in a roster while being stirred constantly.  Once the dextrin is roasted properly it is then packed with care.

The amount of heating and exact process can differ depending on the product being made.  The dextrin which is extracted may undergo several more purification steps to ensure that gluten is removed from the dextrin.

Although gluten is removed during this process, still some small amount of gluten still continues to exist in dextrin.  However the amount is around 20 ppm, which means 20 parts per million.  In other words there would be only 20 molecules of wheat in million parts of dextrin.  This is so less that European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) does not mandates the manufacturers to mention gluten in the dextrin products.  In other words wheat dextrin is safe for those who are allergic to gluten.

Wheat dextrin is very commonly known since is is used in Benefiber. However there are other plants products also from which dextrin is also produced.  Some of the other plants from which dextrin is produced are rice, potato and tapioca.

Health Benefits of Wheat Dextrin

Since wheat dextrin is one of the soluble dietary fiber it can combine with bile juices and bind with cholesterol present in the intestines and reduce the bad cholesterol in your body.  As per one of the articles published in a research papers, dextrin improves the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium and other nutrients in your body and improves your immune system.

As per another report it also improved the digestive system functionality and mitigated the problem of constipation.

Wheat dextrin produces short chain fatty acids when it is fermented by the bacteria.  Short chain fatty acids are useful to us as they protect us from allergies by creating a covering in the colon wall, thus preventing many allergy causing substances to be absorbed into the blood stream.  Here is one article on how fibers which are prebiotic save us from allergies.

Wheat dextrin can be easily dissolved in liquid and taken, which increases the ease of use.  It can also be taken with different liquids such as water or juices.  Some people also like to take dextrin with protein supplements which serves you even more.  You can also add it to egg yolk, puddings or other foods which you like.  Once you experiment and see the combination you like the most you can then continue with that.

Can You Take Wheat Dextrin If You Suffer From Celiac Disease

So you saw how wheat dextrin is produced including the process to make this compound. Can you take it if you have gluten allergy?

Ideally dextrin should not contain any gluten as it is the starch extracted from wheat.  The FDA says that wheat dextrin can be considered as gluten free for most practical purposes. As mentioned above, European Union has also provided exemption from the allergen labeling for any products which contain wheat dextrin.

Very small amount of gluten may still be present which can be as low as 20ppm.  Although it is safe if you suffer from gluten allergy then you should avoid taking befire asking your doctor.  Your doctor can suggest you based on the severity of your problem.

Other Precautions

If you are not used to taking fiber supplement you may suffer from some side effects such as bloating in the stomach or light stomach pain.  Some people may also suffer from gas.  The trick is to take more water and increase the quantity of the supplement slowly.  Increasing the quantity slowly reduces the chances of side effects of dextrin usage.  You can take up to 3 weeks to reach the optimum usage.  After that you can continue the dosage as advised for your needs.

Some Interesting Uses of Wheat Dextrin

It is used in food processing industry to thicken the foods such as jelly and jams similar to pectin, since the thickeners help in solidifying the fruit juices.  They are also used in postage stamps and envelops as glue as well as in textile industry for printing purposes.

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