Guar gum, a common food additive, is the fiber from the seed of the guar plant. This article discusses the side effects of using the same.
Guar gum is obtained by grinding the endosperm of guar seeds. After processing the seeds, you get the natural, white, powdery substance known as guar gum or guaran. India and Pakistan are the leading producers of this gum, which is one of the most popular and common food additives.
Guar gum forms a viscous gel when it comes in contact with water. It is easily available in food stores. It is an inexpensive, natural food additive, and has more thickening ability than cornstarch. It is also a great binder and plasticizer. Therefore, it is used as a food thickener. It is a principle ingredient in ice creams, puddings, and canned sauces. It prevents the formation of ice crystals in ice creams. Soups, sauces, beverages, puddings, cheese, etc., contain this gum as a thickening agent. A very small amount of this gum is required for thickening or for offering the desired texture to the food. It also helps lower the cholesterol and glucose levels. Like xanthan gum, this gum is used in gluten-free recipes. It is also used as a stabilizer in cheese and cold meat processing.
Xanthan gum, obtained by mixing corn sugar and bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris, is also another commonly used food additive. Those who are allergic to corn, should use products that contain guar gum. In food industry, this gum is used as a xanthan gum substitute. Gum arabic, locust bean gum, gum tragacanth, and carrageenan are sometimes used as a substitute for this gum.
A few years back, guaran was used as an ingredient in non-prescription diet pills that were supposed to create a sense of fullness and help curb appetite. People used to take those pills to lose weight. However, many people were affected by serious intestinal and duodenal blockages. Therefore, the FDA banned the use of this gum in diet pills. Since a very small amount of this gum is used in foods, it does not usually cause any side effects. People who are allergic to this gum may experience skin rashes. Some people may experience swollen throat, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, etc., if they happen to consume too much of this gum. Therefore, they should consult a doctor for proper treatment. Antihistamines are used to treat these allergies.
The side effects include diarrhea, loose stools, and increased gas production. Too much of this gum in stomach may lead to an intestinal distress, and the person may feel extremely uncomfortable. This gum expands in the intestine and offers a feeling of fullness. So, when taken in excessive amount, it may cause intestinal blockage. Mild side effects disappear once you stop consuming products containing this gum. While guar gum forms a gel, partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG) is completely soluble in water and soft food. When added, it does not change the color and taste of the food. PHGG is a water-soluble dietary fiber, and therefore it is used in enteral products and beverages. It enhances the production of bifidobacterium in the gut, and thus helps improve your digestive health. So far, no side effects of PHGG are noticed; however, more studies are required to find out and prove its long-term effects.
People should drink plenty of water after consumption of food containing this gum, so that it reduces the chances of choking or developing a blockage in the intestine. Since study reports do not prove the safety and efficacy of this gum, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid products containing guar gum. One should avoid consuming this gum 2 weeks before any type of surgery.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.