Want to know how sugar can be good for metabolic health?
Then you want to check the science behind Palatinose™ (isomaltulose).
Isomaltulose is a very stable product that is not changed in the acidic environment…
The Glycaemic Index (GI) is often used to describe and compare the effect of carbohydrates…
Palatinose™ is a functional carbohydrate with a unique combination of physiological properties, which distinguish it from sucrose and other traditional sugars. On food labels and ingredients lists of retail products, the term isomaltulose is used. While isomaltulose is derived from beet sugar it is also found in honey in small amounts. Palatinose™ has a mild, natural sweetness (approximately 50% of sucrose), without any aftertaste.
Down the intestine, isomaltulose enters the body the way it is known from complex carbohydrates: slowly and delivering in full the needed carbohydrate energy. Consequently, the blood sugar response curve after eating isomaltulose is lower* than after eating table sugar (sucrose); or the overwhelming high response after a refined starch or maltodextrin intake.
How is isomaltulose different than table sugar or sucrose?
Just like sucrose, isomaltulose consists of one glucose and one fructose unit. The difference lies in the bond between these parts. With its α-1.6-glycosidic bond, isomaltulose has a stronger binding compared to the α-1.2-glycosidic bond found in sucrose that is broken down by digestive enzymes easily and fast. This strong α-1.6 binding slows down the digestion process for isomaltulose. It takes 4 to 5 times longer for the body to break this link for absorption and uptake takes place along the full length of the small intestine – contrary to highly available carbohydrates that are taken up at the very beginning of the small intestine, which explains the popularly named sugar rush in case of sucrose or other highly available carbohydrates. It explains as well why isomaltulose delivers the needed carbohydrate energy in slow, metabolic friendly and sufficient way.
What physiological properties of isomaltulose stand out?
- A completely available carbohydrate and glucose supply (4 kcal/g)
- Slow release of glucose in the small intestine
- Low effect on blood glucose* (GI: 32) and insulin
- Kind to teeth**
A tooth-friendly sugar – how is that possible?
Isomaltulose is not fermented in the mouth. This means, this sugar is not used to produce acids that are attacking the teeth and lead to dental caries. The tooth-friendly status of isomaltulose is confirmed by international scientific test centres and demonstrated in human studies. Health claims in the EU** and the U.S.A. were approved.
- Slow and complete digestion by human enzymes and subsequet absorption
- Slow glucose release (low glycaemic)
- Complete availability of carbohydrate resources
- Good digestive comfort similar to sucrose
How is isomaltulose taken up by the body?
The main fermentation happens in the small intestine. The normal carbohydrate processing enzymes of the body are able to also process isomaltulose. It is just happening in a slow way. As the food you have eaten passes along, those undigested parts reach a more distal region of the intestine until they are split and taken up into the blood stream.
- Early and fast intestinal release
- Complete use as energy source
- Slow intestinal release along entire length
- Complete use as energy source
The uptake of Palatinose™ is fully completed in the small intestine, providing 4 kcal/g, as all carbohydrates deliver. The full carbohydrate energy (4 kcal/g, as all carbohydrates provide) is delivered.
In parallel to the mode of digestion and energy delivery, the regulators of the metabolic processes, the gut hormones and insulin as influenced positively as no drastic counter regulation as in the case of high glycaemic carbohydrates as needed.
What happens in the large intestine when one eats isomaltulose?
Although more slowly, the uptake in the small intestine is complete, leading to 4 kcal/g as all carbohydrates deliver. No significant amounts are reaching the large intestine. It also means that the digestive comfort is perfect – like sucrose is.
Why should consumers pay attention to glycaemic information?
The Glycaemic Index (GI) is often used to describe and compare the effect of carbohydrates and carbohydrate foods on blood sugar levels. This index illustrates that the same amount of carbohydrate consumed with different foods can bring very different blood glucose responses. For instance, starch in lentils or pasta has a much lower effect on blood sugar levels than starch in boiled potatoes or white bread. The later behaving more like traditional sugars in terms of a fast and high, pronounced blood glucose response. Sugars cover the entire range from fast and high glycaemic (e.g. glucose with GI 100) to low and slow blood glucose responses (e.g. isomaltulose GI 32). Knowing the difference between their glycaemic responses can play in ones favour towards making healthy lifestyle choices.
Another example is maltodextrin (GI 80), which does not need to be declared as a sugar on pack, it provides the same caloric value as sucrose and isomaltulose (4ckal/g). A remarkable difference comes from the glycaemic response these ingredients trigger in the body.
Can it be trusted?
Yes. Isomaltulose is a natural carbohydrate and thus not a foreign body for our organism. Safety studies were done and confirmed its safe use for human consumption. Human intervention studies related to its metabolic processing and the metabolic changes related to it are also numerous and confirm the low and balanced blood glucose response, the low insulin response was demonstrated as well in numerous studies. Having the scientific basis in mind, potential advantages can be seen for the general population but as well for sports or in the field of clinical nutrition, just to name some.
Palatinose™ might be still a fairly new ingredient, in the recent decade, it has been successfully incorporated in a wide range of applications by leading brands in the food industry, both in Europe and overseas.
Where can it be found?
Palatinose™ is mainly on the market as a functional ingredient in finished retail products; traceable in the ingredients list with the name “isomaltulose”. It is mostly used in product development in the wider sports nutrition market, but shows promising launches in cereal and bakery applications, as in snacks and other categories.
In the coming years, we expect Palatinose™ to become more omnipresent in the market. The interest in products that provide a lower rise in blood sugar* but still deliver true carbohydrates is constantly increasing. During the course of 2020, consumers are paying even closer attention to nutritional choices in relation to their healthy lifestyle goals. Consumers start thinking in shorter terms when thinking about prevention, as prevention is needed now.
New product launches are seen across all product categories:
Low glycaemic claims in the European market
Are there Health Claims available?
Palatinose™ is a certified tooth-friendly** product since 2008. In addition, a claim* for a lower rise in blood sugar levels has been laid down in EU legislation following the publication of a positive EFSA opinion (13.5).
*Consumption of foods/drinks containing Isomaltulose instead of other sugars induces a lower blood sugar rise after their consumption compared to sugar-containing foods/drinks.
**Consumption of foods/drinks containing Isomaltulose instead of other sugars contributes to the maintenance of tooth mineralization.