Guar gum might sound alien to you, but you probably have it already in your kitchen cabinets. It’s a type of polysaccharide which is commonly used as a food additive. Guar gum has the ability to bind components together so it is often used to thicken food products or help them set. While the FDA has formally ruled that guar gum is safe for consumption in the right quantities, the debate over its effects rages on. Some studies have shown that guar gum actually has many health benefits, while others say it can be very dangerous if taken unregulated in large doses.
Foods That Contain Guar Gum
Because of its thickening and binding qualities, guar gum is widely used in the food industry. Foods like yogurt, many varieties of salad dressing, ice cream, sauces, soups and cheese contain guar gum in varying quantities. It is also used extensively in making gluten-free desserts to help them retain their form. Apart from food, guar gum is used in makeup, hair products and in some medicines.
The Positive Effects Of Guar Gum
It Can Relieve Feelings Of Constipation
The same binding qualities that make guar gum a popular additive can also be useful for your digestive system. Guar gum consists of soluble fibers which dissolve once ingested to form a thick gel. This gel lines the insides of your intestinal tract, making it easier for you to pass stools. Regular consumption of foods containing guar gum can make your bowel movements a lot more regular. Guar gum also contains prebiotics which feed healthy bacteria in your gut. This encourages your healthy gut bacteria to multiply and break down food better.
It Can Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
The soluble fibers in guar gum can reduce your blood cholesterol levels. Your liver requires cholesterol to produce bile juices. Soluble fibers bind themselves to bile and carry them out of your system through excretion. When there is lower bile juices in your body, your liver is forced to absorb more cholesterol from your blood and use this to create bile. Therefore, ingesting guar gum can ultimately reduce your overall cholesterol levels.
It Could Help You Eat Less
Because it’s full of fiber, eating foods that contain guar gum could leave you feeling full and satiated. The more fibre a food has, the less of it you need to feel full. Therefore a small portion of a food containing guar gum can help you feel full for longer and reduce your calorie intake. This requires you to eat less and lose weight.
Effects Of High Doses Of Guar Gum
Some companies tried to harness this satiety effect of guar gum and create diet pills from it. These pills contained guar gum in very high doses which caused them to swell up in your stomach. When the pill swelled up, it was supposed to make people feel full and not want to eat. However, there were many cases where it had very serious unintended effects. People were not able to pass the pill out of their system, leading to bowel obstruction and high toxicity. In some extreme cases, this even lead to death.
Because of this effect, many people began to be concerned about the effects of guar gum since it was found in so many food products. However the amount of guar gum added to food is very minimal and can’t have any serious negative effects. Unless you’re allergic to it (which is very rare), consuming foods with guar gum is completely safe. It’s almost impossible to overdose on guar gum through eating food products alone.