Many food supplies use guar gum as an additive. It is obtained as fiber from the seeds of the guar plant and is associated with several health benefits.
Even though guar gum has acclaimed health benefits, other study findings have also attributed it to serious side effects. This has even made the use of guar gum be banned in some products.
It is therefore good to know both the brighter side and darker side of using this plant-based additive. It is also wise to consume the correct amount of guar gum so as not to land on the overdose side of it. This article will discuss every detail of guar gum including its health benefits, side effects, and dosage.
What is Guar Gum?
Guar gum is scientifically known as Cyamopsis tetragonoloba and is sometimes referred to as Jaguar gum or guaran. Guar gums are made from guar beans.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, guar gums are composed of a series of long bonded chains of carbohydrate molecules. It contains two sugars, that is, mannose and galactose. Guar gum is one of the major components of processed foods as it is used in them as an additive.
Its wide and frequent use in the manufacturing and processing of foodstuffs is because it is soluble in nature and can perfectly absorb water to form a thick gel that helps bind food products. Depending on producers, the nutrient composition of guar gum may differ. Irrespective of that, the calorie content in guar gum is generally low. It is largely composed of soluble fiber. According to the National Institutes of Health, the content of protein in guar gum normally range between 5 percent and 6 percent.
What Products Contain Guar Gum?
Nearly every food industry uses guar gum in processing food. According to the database in Food and Drug Association, the main foods that often contain guar gum include yogurt, ice cream, gravies, salad dressing, sauces, pudding, kefir, gluten-free baked goods, breakfast cereals, soup, cheese, and vegetable juices.
Apart from these products, guar gum is also included in medications, paper products, cosmetics, and textiles.
Health Benefits of Guar Gum
In addition to being a major ingredient in the food industry by thickening and stabilizing products, guar gum has also been shown to have some health benefits. Published studies have shown that it may help in digestion, control levels of blood sugar and cholesterol, and help with weight maintenance.
1. Improving Digestive Health
Guar gum is incredibly rich in fiber. Dietary fiber is essential in maintaining the health of your gut by acting as food to the friendly bacteria in the gut and adding bulk to the stool. This way, you will be relieved of constipation and prevented from diarrhea.
One study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that guar gum can help relieve constipation by expediting peristalsis through the intestinal tract. The same study also found that consumption of a partially hydrolyzed guar gum helped in bulking up stool thus improving the stool texture and increasing bowel movements.
Additionally, the same body of research also found that guar gum can act as a prebiotic by feeding the good bacteria in the gut and curtailing the growth of the gut’s harmful bacteria.
Researchers also believe that guar gum may also be perfect in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) since it has the ability to improve digestive health.
2. May Control Blood Sugar
Increased blood sugar is a risk factor for diabetes. Fortunately, researchers have shown that guar gum may just be the best remedy to lowering blood sugar. According to the researchers at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the ability of guar gum to lower blood sugar levels is attributed to its nature of being soluble fiber. Therefore, it can delay the absorption of sugar and in turn leading to reduced blood sugar levels.
In a 6 weeks study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, participants who were diabetic were put on guar gum 4 times per day. At the end of the study, it was found that the levels of blood sugar reduced significantly and the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol were also reduced.
3. May Help Lower Blood Cholesterol
Guar gum is a type of soluble fiber. Studies have shown that soluble fiber possesses cholesterol-lowering effects. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, fiber binds to bile acids in the body making them be excreted thus lowering the number of total circulating bile acids. Therefore, causes the liver to utilize added cholesterol to meet the demand for bile acids, thereby leading to a decrease in cholesterol levels.
One study by the National Institute of Health did a study on 19 participants with obesity and diabetes, each day they were given 15 g of guar gum. The finding was that the levels of total blood cholesterol, as well as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, were significantly reduced as compared to those who were put on placebo.
Side Effects of Guar Gum
It has been confirmed that a large intake of guar gum can have negative health effects. Some decades ago, a certain drug called “Cal-Ban 3,000” was widely used. It was used to reduce weight and promote fullness.
Unfortunately, this drug led to severe health problems such as esophageal obstruction and obstruction of the small bowel and in some instances, it led to death. For that reason, Food and Drug Association decided to ban the use of guar gum in weight loss products. Its use is regulated by FDA and it should not exceed the recommended amount.
Coconut milk, for example, is only allowed to contain only 1% of guar gum. Other common side effects of guar gum in mild instances include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and cramps. Furthermore, before using guar gum it is necessary to try a sensitivity test. In some people, guar gum may produce severe hypersensitivity reactions.
Guar gum is a fiber made from guar beans. It is widely used in processing food products such as kefir and yogurt. Its nutritional content varies depending on manufacturers but mainly it contains soluble fiber. Consuming guar gum may help lower blood cholesterol and sugar levels. You may need to proceed with caution before using guar gum as it may lead to hypersensitivity reaction.