After overhearing a conversation in the health food store that went something like this: “Guar gum is like chewing gum to our system. It cannot be digested by the body.” I was curious and wanted to know more. If you look closely at ingredient lists, even health food store products contain this ingredient quite often.
So, naturally I went to our plant based food expert, Karen Ranzi, M.A. for more clarity. The following is from her research and expertise. Thanks Karen!
What Is Guar Gum?
Guar gum is a fiber from the seed of the guar plant. It is used as a laxative. It has been used in treating diarrhea, constipation, and in reducing cholesterol. It has also been used to achieve weight loss because it expands in the intestine, giving a full feeling.
In foods and beverages, guar gum is used as a thickening, stabilizing and binding agent. It’s included in many foods, personal care products, dog and cat food and more.
It’s commonly present in baby food, baby formula, baby shampoo, and baby soap.
Guar gum is primarily the ground endosperm of guar beans. The guar seeds are dehusked, milled and screened to form guar gum, a free-flowing, off-white powder.
Common Foods Containing Guar And Xantham Gum
Guar gum is also found in a variety of foods, such as soups, juices, jams, salad dressings, soy bars, soy cheeses, and is used as a thickener in a variety of dairy products such as milk and yogurt. India is the largest producer of guar gum products.
According to the clinical experience of Dr. Chris Kresser, many patients with gut issues improve when they remove guar gum from their diet.
Possible Side Effects From Eating Guar and Xantham Gum
Possible side effects of eating guar gum include increased gas production, diarrhea, and loose stools. High doses of guar gum or not drinking enough fluid with it can cause blockage of the esophagus and the intestines.
Large doses of guar gum have potentially hazardous side effects. Guar gum is an extremely viscous thickening agent that has the potential to expand up to 20 times its original size. It could expand and completely block the gastrointestinal tract. High levels have also been linked to colon cancer.
A soy allergy is most commonly found in young children under age 3, but can affect anyone. Because guar gum may contain traces of soy proteins, eating it can lead to an allergic reaction. Symptoms may include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, runny nose, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, hives or skin rashes. A severe and possibly life-threatening reaction of anaphylaxis could occur in rare cases with the consumption of soy proteins.
Some people have reported nausea, flatulence and abdominal cramping after eating a product containing guar gum.
Guar gum is often added to packaged foods, even products sold at natural food stores. Parents are often unaware that guar gum, which has the potential to disrupt children’s digestive systems, is often present in so-called all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO products.
The goal should be to feed our children unprocessed, unadulterated foods to avoid the problems with the added unhealthy ingredients, such as guar gum and xanthan gum, used in many products by food manufacturers.
SafBaby Health Expert Adviser, Karen Ranzi, M.A.
You can find out more about Karen and her nutrition expertise for kids at Superhealthychildren.com.