What is guar gum and where does it come from?
Guar gum is a natural thickener commonly used in food and beverage products. It is made from the seeds of the guar bean plant. Despite it’s current reputation as an agent that may cause bloating, guar gum has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for digestive issues (1,2).
Traditional Uses of the Guar Plant
The guar plant has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The seeds of the plant are often ground into a powder and used to treat various gut disorders, including diarrhea and constipation. In addition, the powder is said to help regulate blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels, support healthy blood pressure and improve digestion. Guar gum, which is derived from seeds, is also commonly used as a food additive and can be found in many processed foods (1).
The food industry usually uses guar-gum in preparations like salad dressings and ice cream, and many other food products as a thickening agent. You usually find guar gum in the end of ingredient lists as a very small amount is sufficient to enhance the texture of foods. Most of the guar-gum used by the food industry is not organic and has gone through an excessive manufacturing process that might have reduced its health benefits. Despite those undesirable traits, guar gum is generally very well tolerated by the general population making it a go-binding agent with respectable thickening potency (3).
What are Plant-Based Food Gums?
As people became more aware of the link between gut health, immune health, inflammation, weight loss and overall health, gut health has become a hot topic in recent years. More and more people are realizing the importance of maintaining a balanced, healthy gut. One of the best ways to promote gut health is to consume foods that contain dietary fiber, including food gums. There are many different types of food gums, but some of the most popular include guar gum, arabic gum, and xanthan gum (4). These gums are high in soluble fiber, which helps to keep the gut microbiota healthy by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. In addition, food gums can help to increase the bulk of stool and relieve constipation. While they are generally considered safe, it is important to keep in mind that like any pre-biotic, we must consume them in moderation, as sudden, excessive use can cause gas and bloating. So if you're looking for a way to improve your gut health, be sure to add some food gums to your diet (5, 6).
What are the health benefits of guar gum
Guar gum regulates blood sugar.
Guar gum is a type of dietary fiber that has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels. When taken before a meal, it helps to slow down the absorption of glucose from the gut, preventing blood sugar spikes. Additionally, guar gum has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, helping the body to better control blood sugar levels. While more research is needed to confirm these effects, guar gum may be a helpful tool for managing blood sugar levels in people with diabetes (1, 7).
Guar gum for digestive health and IBS support
Guar gum is a soluble fiber that can be beneficial for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Due to its thickening properties, guar gum helps to increase the bulk of stool, which can help to relieve bloating and constipation. In addition, guar gum may help to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce symptoms of diarrhea. Those findings are based on human studies (8).
Guar gum as a prebiotic
Guar gum is a type of fiber that is often added to food as a thickening agent. However, research has shown that it may also have gut health benefits. Specifically, guar gum appears to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. This is important because gut bacteria play a role in gut health and immunity. In addition, they help to break down fiber and extract nutrients from food. Guar gum may also help to reduce inflammation and protect the gut lining. As a result, it is thought that consuming guar gum may help to improve gut health and overall well-being (9).
How much guar gum can you safely eat per day
Guar gum is a type of fiber that is commonly used as a food additive. It is derived from the seeds of the guar plant and is often used as a thickening agent or emulsifier. Guar gum has a variety of potential health benefits, including gut health (10).
Soluble fiber, such as guar gum, can help to increase gut motility and reduce constipation. Additionally, soluble fiber can help to fermentation in the gut, which can produce short-chain fatty acids that are beneficial for gut health. However, it is important to consume guar gum in moderation, as consuming large amounts can lead to side effects such as gas and bloating. The recommended amount of guar gum is 2-5 grams per day. Therefore, if you want to consume guar gum for gut health benefits, it is best to do so in small amounts.
Is guar gum good for constipation or diarrhea?
Guar gum is a type of fiber that is derived from the guar bean. It is commonly used as a food thickener or emulsifier. Guar gum has a high viscosity and can absorb large amounts of water, making it effective at relieving constipation and diarrhea. Guar gum works by adding bulk to the stool and stimulating gut contractions, which helps to move stool through the digestive tract. In addition, guar gum can help to increase the moisture content of the stool, which can also help to relieve constipation. However, it is important to note that guar gum should only be used as a temporary treatment for constipation or diarrhea. If you have chronic gut problems, it is best to speak with a doctor to determine the underlying cause (11).
Are there any adverse effects of eating too much guar gum
Recent studies have shown that guar gum can help to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It has also been shown to improve gut health and reduce IBS symptoms.
For many years, guar gum has had a bad reputation among gut health experts. This is because it is a type of soluble fiber that can often cause digestive issues like bloating, gas and diarrhea. However, recent studies have shown that guar gum may not be as bad as previously thought. In fact, it may even have some gut-healthy benefits. For example, one study found that guar gum helped to increase the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Additionally, guar gum has been shown to help slow down the absorption of sugar in the gut, which could help to prevent blood sugar spikes. Given these potential benefits, it's worth considering adding guar gum to your diet in moderation. If you do experience any digestive issues, however, be sure to consult with a gut health expert before making any changes to your diet (9-12).
As no significant side effects were found with doses that are as high as over 15g, most of the research studies that investigated the benefits of guar gum study the effect of guar gum on health using doses of 10-15g.
For the few participants who experienced gastrointestinal issues, a dose of 15 g ( 15 g= 15 gram = 15,000 mg) had mild bloating, abdominal pain, loose stools and gas build-up. Interestingly, even those who experienced symptoms, noted that continued use, diminished the symptoms after a week. The disappearance of symptoms is because the flora of the large intestine becomes accustomed to breaking down the soluble fiber (11, 13).
In settings that are not medical, when guar gum is used as a gut-health-enhancing agent, it is advised to consume less than 5 grams (5000mg/day). Those with a sensitive digestive system should start with doses no more than 3 grams (3000mg/ day) to reap the benefits of guar gum, and avoid the possible side effects. A gradual increase in dose is possible to get more of the weight management/blood sugar management benefits of the gum. The gradual growth of good bacteria is much more favorable than a sudden boom that may cause digestive symptoms as a product of bacterial fermentation.
A large dose should be quickly reduced upon experiencing negative side effects.
Guar gum has been used traditionally as a gut health support agent. The vast majority of symptoms associated with excessive guar gum use are due to high doses. Research studies have shown that guar gum is safe for human consumption, and negative side effects are rare with the use of doses under 15 g/ day. There are many potential health benefits of guar gum, making it a viable natural option for gut health support. To avoid any negative side effects, it is recommended to consume guar gum in moderation, with a maximum dose of 5 g/ day. Guar gum should be stored in a cool, dry place to ensure freshness.
Have you tried using guar gum as a gut health support agent? Let us know in the comments below!