Harmful or Harmless: Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, and More | Chris Kresser

Harmful or Harmless: Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, and More

by Chris Kresser

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So far in this series on additives, I’ve discussed magnesium stearate, soy lecithin, carrageenan, and xanthan gum. These are the most common food additives found in processed foods, especially in processed “health” foods, and many health conscious shoppers have been unnecessarily concerned about avoiding some of the less harmful substances I covered in this series.

In this final installment, I’ll review an assortment of gums that are often found either alongside or replacing xanthan gum and carrageenan in processed foods, acting as thickeners, stabilizers, or emulsifiers.

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Guar Gum

I talked briefly about guar gum awhile back in my unexpectedly controversial article on coconut milk, but I’ll give you a bit more detail here. Unlike xanthan gum, which is a product of bacterial fermentation, guar gum is derived from an actual food: the guar bean, or Indian cluster bean, which grows primarily in India and Pakistan. They look similar to green beans, and are a common vegetable dish in the areas in which they grow.

Find out how gums used in processed foods can affect your health.

The physiological effects of guar gum have been extensively studied, first on animals and then on humans. In rats, the only significant effects from guar gum supplementation were reduced body weight and lower blood glucose, even with guar gum making up 15% of the diet (over 100 times the FDA Acceptable Daily Intake). (1) Because guar gum is a soluble fiber, neither of these effects is particularly surprising. Other animal studies conducted to test the safety of guar gum concluded that it is not carcinogenic or teratogenic (harmful to growing fetuses). (2, 3, 4)

Because the animal studies showed no harm even at very high doses, guar gum is now being studied in humans as a therapeutic tool for reducing blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Studies have shown guar gum supplementation to be effective for reducing fasting blood glucose, improving glycemic control, reducing insulin requirements in insulin-dependent diabetics, and reducing LDL cholesterol, although whether these effects could be maintained long-term is uncertain. (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Unfortunately, these studies do report gastrointestinal side effects such as increased gas. In one study where subjects were given 21g of guar gum per day for 3 months, two participants dropped out due to excessive gas and abdominal discomfort. (11)

Although 21g per day is far more guar gum than anyone would reasonably encounter in their diet, even small amounts could cause unpleasant symptoms in those with sensitive digestive systems, and I’ve had patients with gut issues improve after removing guar gum from their diet. With that in mind, I think it makes sense to avoid guar gum if you have gut issues, like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or IBS, unless you’ve removed it and added it back in without noticing any harmful effects.

Locust Bean Gum

Locust bean gum, also known as carob bean gum, is derived from the seeds of the carob tree. During a two-year animal study, rats were given locust bean gum as 5% of their diet, and no carcinogenic or other toxic effects were observed. (12)

Similar to guar gum, locust bean gum has also been studied in humans as a potential cholesterol-lowering compound. (13) Normal subjects and subjects with familial hypercholesterolemia were given between 8 and 30 grams per day of locust bean gum for 8 weeks, resulting in reduced total cholesterol and an improved HDL to LDL ratio. Participants did report increased gas, but it went away after a week or two, and no other harmful effects were reported.

I think the same recommendation I gave for guar gum applies here: if you have gut issues, it would probably be best to avoid locust bean gum. Otherwise, I see no indication that it will cause harm.

Gum Arabic

Gum arabic is derived from the sap of the acacia tree. Under FDA regulations, gum arabic is given an Acceptable Daily Intake level of ‘not specified,’ which is assigned to additives with little or no observed toxic potential. Animal studies have shown that it is not carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic, and even at very high doses, the animals did not display any effects of toxicity. (14, 15)

In a small human study, 5 healthy men were given 25g of gum arabic per day for three weeks, and no side effects were reported. (16) In fact, gum arabic had very little effect on the participants, positive or negative, aside from a modest reduction in serum cholesterol and an increase in breath hydrogen.

The increased breath hydrogen indicates metabolism by intestinal bacteria, which has been confirmed by more recent studies on the prebiotic properties of gum arabic. A study using healthy human volunteers found that gum arabic acts as a powerful prebiotic, selectively stimulating the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. (17) The study authors concluded that gum arabic is at least as effective a prebiotic as inulin, if not more so. Many of you are probably aware that inulin is sold as a prebiotic supplement, so that’s pretty significant!

Based on the available research, gum arabic seems pretty benign, even for those with gut issues. I certainly wouldn’t be concerned about consuming small amounts of it, although as always, be aware of your individual tolerance.

Tara Gum

Like guar gum and locust bean gum, tara gum is derived from the endosperm of a legume. Tara gum is a relatively new food additive so there’s less data on it, but it has been thoroughly studied for toxic effects in animals. Researchers conducted multiple 90-day trials in rats, mice, and beagles with tara gum as 5% of the diet, and found no adverse effects other than decreased body weight in the experimental groups. (18) Three-generation reproductive rat studies and genotoxicity studies found no harmful effects of tara gum. (19) In 2-year trials, the experimental groups had more tumors than the control groups, but due to the “high spontaneous incidence” of this particular tumor and the fact that nearly all of the control mice developed the tumor as well, researchers concluded that this was not a result of the tara gum supplementation. (20)

I’m slightly more skeptical of tara gum compared with the other gums because the toxicity results are less conclusive. Also, while all of the other gums have been tested on humans, tara gum has not. That doesn’t mean it’s not safe, because the available evidence indicates it is; it just means we don’t have as much to go on, and it’s always good to be cautious of new food additives.

Gellan Gum

Gellan gum is similar to xanthan gum in that it is an exopolysaccharide produced by bacterial fermentation. Unfortunately, the routine animal toxicity studies conducted for new food additives aren’t available online, but we do have a human study to look at. To test the safety of gellan gum, the diets of ten volunteers were supplemented with gellan gum at approximately 30 times the level of normal dietary exposure for 23 days. (21) Gellan gum acted as a bulking agent similar to xanthan gum, but no adverse effects were reported. However, a rat study with gellan gum supplemented at 5% of the diet for 4 weeks resulted in abnormalities in intestinal microvilli, which is concerning. (22)

This rat study, as well as the lack of data overall, makes me cautious, and I think those with sensitive guts should avoid it just to be on the safe side. For everyone else, I doubt the small amounts found in food will cause a problem, but it might be best to avoid it if possible.

Conclusion

As a general rule, gums can be problematic for those with digestive issues simply because they’re mostly indigestible, but it’s very unlikely any of them will actually cause harm. Of course it’s ideal to avoid food additives altogether, but I know it’s not realistic for everyone to prepare all food from scratch, and unless you have digestive issues or a sensitivity to certain gums, I don’t think it’s necessary.

Because I’ve covered a lot of different additives with similar applications (primarily thickening or emulsifying), I’ll try to rank them for you. Let’s say you’re buying some almond milk, and there are a bunch of different brands that use different additives. First, do your best to avoid carrageenan. As I mentioned in the article, the concerns have been largely overblown, but it definitely shows the highest potential for harm among the additives we’ve discussed, and with all of the choices available to us, it should be pretty easy to find a brand that doesn’t use it.

Next, I would avoid tara and gellan gums, not because they appear to be harmful, but because we have less information on them.

I’d probably rank guar gum above xanthan gum because it’s derived from a food instead of a bacterial exopolysaccharide, and it isn’t produced using common food allergens. Locust bean gum is probably on about the same level as guar gum, although based on the available studies, the gut symptoms associated with locust bean gum appear to be less severe.

Gum arabic seems the least likely to create digestive symptoms, and it even stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria, so out of all the gums, it appears to be the least problematic.

Finally, just remember that the overall quality of your diet is far more important than how well you avoid these additives. Luckily, the two correlate pretty well!

I hope you’ve found this series informative and helpful. As always, share your thoughts and questions in the comments!

229 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. I have been tested for and do have an allergy to xanthum gum, tuna and wheat. (No other foods showed up in an extensive array of foods tested). It gives me a mild bloat but more importantly causes my face to break out in 1 to 10 red zit-like dots. Since I’m also allergic to wheat it’s a real pain that xanthan gum is used instead of guar or carrageenan gum. I had never heard of gellan gum but just switched to Bliss coconut coffee creamer and immediately broke out. Back to the ingredient listing and discovered gellan gum and hence this article. I obviously wish both gums were used far less frequently!!!

  2. I’m going to a holistic doctor and he has me on a three week fat and liver cleanse…the shake has guar gum under “other ingredients” and I’m wondering if that will greatly affect or further damage my intestInal issues: gastritis, nausea, bloating, burning. I only experience all those symptoms when I have a gastritis flare but nausea and bloating are more common. Should I bring it to his attention or will I be ok?….

  3. Thanks for researching all of these additives for us!! Although some of them cause bloating/gas in some people, I was amazed to find studies saying that guar gum that is “partially hydrolyzed” (PHGG) actually treats IBS w/constipation and bloating. It increases transit time & enhances evacuation which is a godsend for those who are constipated. Guar gum contains prebiotic fiber which feeds our good bacteria. Probiotic bacteria ferment it, turning it into short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate which in turn nourishes and fortifies our gut lining. Chris: could those w/ an inflammatory/ allergic response be reacting to legume toxins (lectins, phytates, glycosides etc.) since most of the gums come from legumes? The fiber itself, though, is soluble prebiotic fiber that heals the gut. It is fascinating to see both the dark and bright side of these plants!

    • I hope he comes an answer your post because it raises some interesting points! I suffer from gastritis, Hashimoto’s, sluggish liver and parasites. My doc has me on a liver cleanse but the shake has guar gum. It makes my stomach feel funny…not sure if it’s the chocolate or the gum because the vanilla one didn’t give me a bad reaction like the chocolate one. I was up late from the pain and nausea :/ today is my second day (only doing vanilla from now on) so I don’t think it’s the detox side effects.

      • I’m sorry about your symptoms 🙁 Hope you find relief soon! It sounds like you are in good hands; most docs (even alternative docs) don’t even want to entertain the possibility of parasites. They are increasingly common, and not only in tropical climates! Some thrive in cold climates. Plus, much of our food comes from far-flung places, and there is unprecedented global travel in and out of the country today. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone; it’s estimated that 80%+ of the population (some say 100%) has some kind of parasite, just as we have numerous commensal bacteria and fungi living within us. They’re part of our micro- (and dare I say, macro-) biome. Going on a tangent here, but some species of worms actually turn off autoimmune reactions in people with severe IBD! Look up helminthic therapy. Best of health to you!

  4. I have spent the past 6 years suffering increasingly worsened digestive issues- cronic constipation, bloating and painful cramps. Having even the Gastroenterologist tell me that nothing was wrong and it must just be unexplained IBS and gluten sensitivity, I continued to avoid gluten only to see my symptoms worsen.
    Finally, I had a lightbulb moment! I realised that my symptoms had been particularly bad after drinking an almond milk with Guar and Xanthan gum and additive 407 (carageenan), also, I had been putting Schiracha sauce on my salad at lunch time which also contains Xanthan gum. The gums!
    I’d been substituting bread, milk, flours etc for gluten and dairy containing ones trying to help my symptoms when it had been the gums all along and I’d been increasing my pain and built up intolerance all this time!
    I cut out all gums just over one week ago and the change has been instant and incredible! Bloating, cramps, pain and constipation are gone. My digestive system is slowly righting itself. My face also is less puffy and I no longer wake up feeling tired and heavy! I feel like myself again!
    I wish to share this experience with anyone who may be having the same problems- still being in pain even after eliminating gluten. You may not have have the intolerance you think you must have.
    Thanks for reading

  5. It is becoming more and more difficult to find additive free foods. I am a conscientious label reader and still get caught out (just discoverd my organic cream contains gellan gum – I bought some ultra-pasteurized because the regular pasteurized was sold out – and I now have bad abdominal cramps!)

    If even expensive organic foods contain additives what can we do?

    • Watch the documentary What the Health on Netflix. You’ll have all of the answers you need and it will change your lives in unimaginable ways. You will be rid of all of these ailments and more.

  6. I’ve been a fan of Breyer’s Ice cream for a long time, but they have also gone to the dark side. Carrageenan is now in all their flavored products, and now tara gum in their vanilla, which gives me diarrhea. If my body is expelling it, it can’t be a good thing. Maybe if you want a pleasant tasting laxative….

  7. I traced a significant amount of Asthma like symptoms I had for years to drinking flavored coffees. I started drinking them in quantity from Dunkin Donuts. Soon afterward I noticed difficulty breathing. I eventually had to get an inhaler. I happened to go off of any coffee at all for some time and the Asthma like symptoms went away. On getting a flavored coffee again, the symptoms came back with even more intensity. It unfortunately took several more times of this cycle to make me look into it. The flavor carrier for the coffee is Gum Arabic (Acacia). I am allergic to many trees. I have really looked at anything that could have this Gum in it and avoided it. It is also used to stop the crystallization of sugars in sodas, but is rarely listed on the labels. I don’t really drink soft drinks any more. All the symptoms are gone. I highly recommend looking on the ingredient list and avoiding this gum if you have any tree allergies. Before figuring this out I could not walk around the block without getting winded. Now I can run a half marathon and regularly do 10Ks with no issue. I’m 55.
    I also traced significant digestive system issues to Xanthan gum. I continually got a upset stomach every time a had a salad or various other common foods. On consulting an allergist and going for tests. He suggested that the issue is with old produce. The film that forms on the produce when old is related to mold, which I show high allergic reaction to. After heeding his advice and getting the freshest produce I could, I still was getting sick. I stopped eating salads all together, which really bothered me. I did get similarly sick after eating something other than a salad. Looking at the ingredients, all looked familiar except the Xanthan gum. After several similar incidences I finally found the Xanthan gum was the culprit. The gum is used in all over the counter salad dressings. It is also used in gravy and many coatings for cold cuts. The amount of reaction I have is dependent on the quantity used I imagine. I now use only olive oil and rice wine vinegar on my salads with some Italian seasoning. I have all the salads I want. The xanthan gum is derived from fermenting corn meal with a fungus. I still have significant allergies to mold and fungus.
    It took me years of unpleasant trial and error to find the relationship between the symptoms I was having and these gums. I now believe that many of our common ailments are probably related to many of these additives. I think both of these gums are also considered NATURAL.. You can still see them in Natural and Organic products in stores.
    I hope this helps someone to avoid the unpleasantness I had to go through.

    • About 20 years ago I began having severe gastric distress. Through a long process of illumination I figured out that the culprit was #guar gum. As long as I illuminate guar and capsicum from my diet I have no gastric distress. I have found guar in dairy, baking mixes, breads, packaged popcorn and in soups at Panera and la Madeleine restaurants. All my life I thought I had a weak stomach, I didn’t realize I was poisoning myself by things I ate that were “natural”. I also get headaches if I ingest Splenda. Needless to say, I read all labels.

    • for those with possible digestive issues or ones they cannot solve, stay away from iceberg lettuce. It can wreak havoc on your intestines within 15 min of eating.

    • Dave!! ANSWER TO PRAYER!! <– Your comment which I just read this morning.

      For me, it doesn't appear to be Xanthum gum as much as gellan gum & locust bean gum which are currently bothering me "big time"! (we're all different & obviously react differently to various substances.) Though the way you described Xanthum gum being created, I'm sure I'd have problems with that as well! (same allergens: trees & definitely mold & fungus)

      Anyway for 3 days now I've been having the EXACT SAME SYMPTOMS you've described here!! Bronchitis SO BAD it felt like a truck sitting on my lungs! Had to pull out the inhaler which I use as sparingly as possible (as side effects can be hazardous, too!)

      So after a good night's sleep, I woke up this morning feeling refreshed, no breathing issues….. UNTIL I had my 8 oz. of Califia Cold Brew Coffee, Mocha. (I always limited "my fun" to 8 oz. due to caffeine which I'm sensitive to..) Well??!! Almost immediately the breathing discomfort & distress started again.

      Good thing? I'm almost certain it's the gum additives, so it is good to discover this without thousands $ spent at doctors for tests while continuing to suffer.
      Bad thing? I've got a whole closet full of various alternative milks which I'd stocked up on. Obviously wasted money, sigh & whose got it to waste? But I'll donate & hope someone in need won't have the same allergy issues.

      Thank you, Chris, for this site!! And thank all of you for your thought-provoking comments!!
      Definitely: food for thought!

    • Corn and Wheat? If it’s not Organic it isn’t safe… All genetically modified GMO food is causing every Cancer known to man and every Plague of the 21st. century.. It is only one of the Poison’s that Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Bayer, and six other Giant Agro Companies around the world that are poisoning every living thing on earth with. Don’t look to the FDA for a fix because they are in the pockets of all Agro Companies and don’t give a damb thing about our health. In 2015 Monsanto paid off the FDA $6.5 Billion Dollars to keep GMO off the labels of our food. If it isn’t Organic it is POISON !!! and some of that is tainted by other farms spraying Roundup Pesticide on their crops….

  8. I’m curious, although I don’t seem to have latex sensitivity I know people who do. A type of latex is made from Acacia. Does this mean that people with latex sensitivity can’t eat Gum Arabic?

  9. Chris, I ended up in the hospital last Sunday because the urgent care clinic had closed early. The 2 previous nights I had been up 8 times to the bathroom, only passing trickles of urine each time, and wondered if I had a bladder infection. Normally, having bph, I’m up 2 or 3 times only. The doctor, following a thorough consultation and doing a bladder scan which ruled out the necessity of a catheter, told me I had a swollen prostate and to go to my urologist. I asked myself what new foods I’d eaten prior to and during the 2 difficult nights. The answer was caffeine/calori/sugar-free A&W root beer and Diet Cranberry-Mango by Ocean Spray containing Gum Arabic, which is Acacia Gum. I suspected the latter and a quick and short experiment proved me right. Guar Gum I had to give up years ago (no ice cream for me–boo-hoo!) as it also slowed down the plumbing every time. Carageenan , which you seem to find most problematic, does not affect my plumbing. The reason I added these 2 drinks was because I find it hard to drink 8 glasses of water each day and am pre-diabetic so must watch sugar. Perhaps the aspartame is as bad longterm as Acacia Gum is shortterm–I haven’t counted my brain cells. Cream also slows my plumbing down (good-bye pumpkin pie with whip cream!), but nothing does it as well as Acacia Gum (Gum Arabic)! Comments welcome. Murray

    • just put some frozen blueberries or cucumbers in your water to drink more.
      all those low calorie etc drinks are terrible for you. watch for kidney stones with soda

    • If you can still eat ice cream, then check out Vanilla Haagen Dasz or Sam’s Club Vanilla. They are the most close to natural that I have found without those additives. I read labels on everything due to allergies, food intolerances, and a sensitive digestive track. Guar gum doesn’t appear to do anything bad to me unless I eat too much of it, and then it just slows down bowel movements in combination with dairy. So I will consume it in Open Nature vanilla ice cream. But if you can’t have cream, then that probably won’t work for you. I am allergic to milk but can tolerate it fairly well in these particular ice creams if I eat it moderately (hard to do).

      • If its available in your area, you should look for Turkey Hill’s All Natural Ice Cream. No gums, additives or artificial ingredients. If you read the back of the label, it truly is all natural, and some are Non GMO.

  10. These gums are used at very low levels in foods. Consumption would be a few grams per day or less. So the studies of consuming 20-30 g per day are very exaggerated compared to what people might consume.

    • A very small amount of guar gum causes me extreme gastric distress. Once I have avoided everything from my intestinal track I feel like I am recovering from the flu. For me, just a little bit is detrimental to my health. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there walking around with IBS or symptoms of Crohn’s but don’t realize it’s just something they are eating that they shouldn’t be.

  11. Very upset!!!!
    I’ve been searching to NON -DAIRY MILK AND CANT FIND ONE THAT DOESN’T CONTAIN GELLIAN GUM
    NON DAIRY MILK DO NOT BUY: SILK, HORIZON, ALMOND MILK

    • I also have looked for the same and am convinced it dies not exist. I write Califia Farms about the carrageenan and gums in their almond milk and I guess others did also. Their bottles now say “Carageenan free”. Califia still contains gel lab gum and carob bean gum but they are last in the list of ingredients so not as much as the other ingredients. Perhaps, in time, they will take one or both of them out. The company is very health conscious so I think they take your comments seriously.

      • You can easily make your own almond milk from scratch. All you need is fresh almonds, water and blender. You can add vanilla extract, cinnamon or anything you like for taste.
        I recommend buying organic raw almonds.

    • If you are okay with soy, I have found WestSoy plain unsweetened soymilk to have only 2 ingredients listed: soybeans and water. It’s available in shelf stable cartons. It tastes great so not sure why other brands have to add all the other junk. Trader Joe’s also has a shelf stable soy with just soybeans and water as the only ingredients. It tastes great also.

      • But is it GMO Soy? They don’t have to list it on package yet. GMO products can cause gastrological problems. It causes the insects digestive systems to explode when they eat the Soy plant that has been produced with GMO’s.

    • I think rice milk is pretty clean! I didn’t see any “gum” products listed on the ingredients when I looked.

      • Hi Alexandria, don’t know if you saw my recent piece on how I’ve been hurt by both guar gum and acacia gum (gum Arabic). It’s also on my Facebook. Now I’m making my own Almond milk with blender and juicer. Let me know if you’d like more info.
        Murray

        • Hi, Murray,
          Can you please share your recipe for almond milk? Have you found a place to get a good price on bulk almonds? Organic?

          Thanks,
          Susan

          • Hi Susan,
            Actually, I just learned from a dietitian that the protein and, I guess, vitamins, are removed with the fibre when you juice. Thus, I’m thinking of buying a Vita-mix or Blendtec (probably the latter) which will leave everything in. The recipe I followed was 1 c. almonds (after soaking over-night, then draining and rinsing) to 3 c. water. I use it mainly on my cereal. Sorry I guess we can’t share our email addresses here–or may we? Let me know how you make out. Murray

    • Westsoy and Trader Joe’s Organic Soy Beverage do not contain anything other than soybeans and water.

    • There is a brand called “Califia Farms”. They have a coconut almond milk blend that is amazing. Carrageenan free and it only has Gellan gum and locust bean gum. Hopefully that helps.

      • Gellan is really sinister…
        From: http://www.natural-health-journals.com/2228/gums-in-foods-causing-health-problems-for-many
        Gellan Gum: Another Additive Made of Bacterial Excretions
        Like xanthan gum, gellan gum is also made by bacteria cultured in a sugary solution. The bacteria, Sphingomonas elodea, are one species out of many in a genus that’s widespread and normal in nature. Sphingomonads are known to be hardy organisms able to thrive with minimal nutrition; some species have been found in environments contaminated with toxic compounds, where they’ve shown they can use the contaminants as nourishment. Some species can also cause non-life-threatening infections in humans that may require antibiotics.
        Studies done on gellan gum consumption have not found toxic effects, nor have users commented online on any problems with regular consumption. This might be partly due to the fact that gellan gum isn’t used nearly as much in processed foods as the other gums. Or perhaps its effects are more subtle than those of other gums.
        One study found that giving rats 5 percent gellan gum in their diets for four weeks led to intestinal microvilli adhering to one another, and decreased digestion of nutrients in the gut (source: “Effects of Curdlan and Gellan Gum on the Surface Structure of Intestinal Mucosa in Rats,” Osaka City Univ. and Osaka Prefecture Univ., 2009, jstage.jst.go.jp).
        Microvilli are the tiny hairlike tubes that cover the surface of villi, which are the finger-like structures lining the inside of intestines. The microvilli are where nutrients are absorbed into the blood and carried to the entire body; they also release fluids that aid digestion. The whole purpose of there being so many of them is to make digestion and absorption of nutrients as fast and effective as possible. Clearly, then, it would be a bad idea to eat something sticky that has no nutritional value, cannot be digested, and would impair the ability of microvilli to absorb and secrete by forming a gummy film over them.

    • Is very easy do it own milk from almonds , nuts and much more look at google
      Add also some xylitol – must be REALL Birch and vanila beans taste great and healthy

    • I finally found Red Barn Almond Milk. Only organic almonds, sea salt, filtered water and acacia gum (the safest gum for the intestines mentioned in the article). Taste is better too. It will not appear as creamy looking because there aren’t a zillion “gums” gelling it together. Just shake the bottle before each serving. I have severe IBS and reflux and getting all of the gums out of my diet except for the acacia gum in my almond milk has definitely helped.

    • I have tried the new Hempfu ; which is like tofu, I like the idea of using more hemp, But they put that Gellan Gum in it and I had a reaction to it; the same as from some types of chocolate, major break out!
      Peter

    • You probably don’t “do” soy as it’s gotten bad press lately. But if you do, WestSoy organic (no GMOs), unsweetened, nothing added, might be an option.

  12. Both carageenan gum and gellan gum cause me to feel a mild shortness of breath. I feel stress, as if the air is way too humid. In both cases, it occurs after drinking a glass of chocolate milk, which otherwise has natural ingredients, from different brands. One brand uses carageenan and the other uses gellan gum. Took me a few days the first time, but only two glasses the second time, because I recognized the symptoms. Xanthum gum affects me with gas or mild diarrhea. As others have noted, these gums are everywhere. I buy Haagandaz ice cream because they don’t use these gums, and I write the other companies that use natural ingredients, but use additives like gums for fillers. Everyone needs to use the power of their pen (email) and $.

    • “Natural Ingredients” include all the above gums, bugs, worms and anything else from nature. The best way to go is Kosher, Local or Organic. Then you know exactly what you’re eating. And if you don’t want to spend more $, shop at Aldi.

  13. I recently found out my IBS is actually celiacs disease. so I went gluten-free. I found out that some gluten-free products are made with sorghum which leaves a really bad after taste and a horrible smell in the house after it’s been cooked. are the products made with the gums mentioned in this article what they use instead of sorghum in gluten free products?

  14. I have found the gum additives cause insomnia in me. I didn’t sleep a full night until I was almost 40. Now I avoid all gums and sleep great. The hard part is it seems they are being added to more and more items. My oldest daughter is allergic to them as well, while I can’t stay asleep, she can’t fall asleep. She will pace the house weeping at 2 a.m. because she can’t sleep, it’s terrible.

    • Ditto. Insomnia caused by guar gum. Because I cook everything, and control all ingredients, this is a side effect for me as well.
      I’ve tested it a few times, and it takes very little. I used to buy coconut milk with no additives, just water. I switched to a brand available at Whole Foods, claiming less than 1% guar gum. Two attempts, separated by a few weeks, and bam, insomnia, both times.
      So, I’m glad I found another individual to back my findings.
      Best Wishes-

      • It would help both of you to do some research on sleep disorders. I’ve had one my whole lI feel, and now (at age 37), I’m sleeping better than I ever have before…and it’s not just due to eating better. There are a lot of tricks: warm milk (whatever kind you prefer), going to sleep in a different room, keep lighting low for atleast a few hours before bedtime (as specially Smart phones…their brightness disrupts the circadian rythm), cold turkey and Zzzquil (all natural, not addictive). After 25 years of suffering, I’m finally getting 7-9 hours sleep a night…and I feel amazing (including weight loss).

        • Hi Cynthia, RE: Sleep disorders and Epilespy …..I like this article, it is well written and discuses the very different aspects of the high potential down fall of additives primarily because manufactures do not finish research before they are allowed to put these things on the market. However, I think the mention of gut issues here are being down played or overlooked as a serious long term potential for particular segments of the population. What I am talking about is the connection in epilepsy and cancer to free radical production and elimination…indicated by gas and gut issues. I would encourage all that are following this with sleep disorders, epilepsy, and perhaps bio-polar and ADHD to look into the connection between Glutamine and nitrogen homeostasis. This is the link between the gut and potentialy how Gums can interfere with neurologically sensitive people. (as the two people referred to sleep disturbances above and the mice having unusual gas) Perhaps the general population can handle the gums , but I dont like the argument that people with epilepsy or similarly the 5% of mice that have issues with these additives are statistically not significant. This is the argument the FDA makes for the reason it is still legal to uses MSG when it is clearly a toxic substance to over 5% of the population. I am particularity alarmed that for 30 years the whole population seems to feel its acceptable that parents with epileptic children be exposed to exitotoxins when many of them have never heard about them and they are in almost every food in the store.

      • I have the same reactions, always told I was wrong,
        I am glad to see that I am not the only one.
        I avoid any and all of these additives, it makes it very hard to find food without any of the above but it is worth it.
        Being awake at night was not the only side affect I had.

    • Heather, please look into Melatonin for your daughter. It’s natural and our bodies produce it in order to sleep. She may need a melatonin supplement if something is counteracting her production of it or blocking it in her body.
      I feel awful she goes through that! I am an insomniac and if I don’t take a sleep aid, example Melatonin, I will be up the entire night.

      • Before taking melatonin she could try wearing blue blockers glasses by uvex after sundown. Then your body can produce melatonin by itself.

  15. Gms like gum Arabic are used as food additives to gel everything together and prevent separation and movement. Digestive system does not want this, the digestive fluids won’t penetrate as well, leaving all that undigested food for the bacteria to proliferate on. Hence people experiencing excessive gas.

    Currently I have a multivitamin, protein powder product and it has a majority of filler in it per 35g serving. Gum Arabic number one, cellulose gum, tapioca, xanthan gum….

    I AM VERY SKEPTICAL.

    I would like to know how a big wad of gluey indefeasible stuff is going to affect nutrient absorption!

    I wager gums are anti-nutrient

    • You need to get a clean protein powder. I can definitely recommend pure Hemp Protein Powder. You can find it at places like ThriveMarket.

      All those protein powders with junk in them are simply not worth it.

  16. Very interesting information! I use guar gum in my canned coconut milk. And I use xanthan gum as an additive in my homemade salad dressings and grain-free baking. I avoid all grains, sugar, dairy, soy, corn and most of my meats are grass- feed. So I am relieved to know that these items could be a source of trouble for me if I have trouble in the future. Most dried beans cause severe gut pain, but the guar gum is from a bean more like a green bean so that may be why I can handle it. After about 25 years of experimenting with what works for me, I am still learning. Good luck everyone! Keep up the struggle as it is so worthwhile!

    • Avoid eat tinned beans and pulses.
      You need to soak dried beans/pulses overnight and then cook (ideally with some seaweed in it).
      Also, introduce slowly. I do not experience gas issues when I cook beans and pulses as above.

  17. Nice to find this. Thought I had a mild lactose intolerance because I always felt bloated and terrible after eating ice cream. I realized it was the gums and carageenan and now check labels when I shop. It’s a funny allergy, because it’s just as common to find the gums in top shelf all natural products as it is the store brands. I love eating ice cream again!

    • Hagen Daz is the only ice cream that does not put gums in their ice cream, support companies like these.

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