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


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.

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

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.

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.


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!

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. says

    There is a prebiotic called Perfect Pass Prebiotic that contains PHGG, partially hydrolyzed guar gum which is ‘broken down with natural enzymes into the ideal molecular size and the perfect food for your beneficial microbes’. It claims to be guaranteed to have no side effects and does not feed the bad bacteria.

    I would welcome opinions on this product!

  2. Hilary says

    Hello, I have been increasing my intake with Almond Milk Original brand and drinking more coffee – I’m using a french vanilla creamer as well. However, I keep getting severe bloating – it looks like I just ate a Thanksgiving meal! Also, I am experiencing a lot of gas. Also, when I was younger I was lactose intolerant but I grew out of it and have no stomach pain when consuming diary. Is the dairy what is causing me to bloat? Do you have any suggestions for things to consume that may help with the bloating? Thank you!

  3. larry fancher says

    Gellum gum, like xanthan and guar is a beta 1to4 O glugoside,
    as is lactose, pectin and phlrorizin to name a few, if one is lacking the Beta 1to 4 O glycosidase often called lactase then all these products will ferment in the gut and cause unusual lavage as well as gastric reflux if used in excess, diahrrea is common as symptom of lack of the enzyme as well as flatulence.

  4. Bob says

    Are there any ingredients I can use in gluten free bread to bind things together (IE what guar gum and other gums do), which don’t cause stomach discomfort and gas?

    I absolutely LOVE bread but I’m trying to heal a leaky gut, so need to stay clear of gluten. Help! 😉

  5. Tina says

    After much research a recent found book written by Dr. Russell Blaylock, called ‘Excitotoxins’ has given me so much information that I now understand by so many people have similar reactions to food additives. As the research has revealed foods like carrageenan and nutrisweet act similarly in the brain and gut. Since our gut is called our second brain due to its numerous nerve endings the correlation stands to reason. I read one bloggers response about the reaction being the same to both. The doctor informed that msg has been added to carrageenan causing the same reaction. Flavor enhancers are used constantly and called by different names in order to deceive us. Since the thickeners of all sorts are beyond our control, who’s to say that this is not true in every case. I am a nutritional analyst and have been able to test whether any food or food product are beneficial for us. We will always be deceived by those who wish to line their pockets. So I will always say go back to basics and know what you put in your mouths

  6. Denise says

    I didn’t really care much about all the gums in the ingredients until I started to dring Silk Almond milk which contains Gellan Gum and Locust Bean Gum. I had diarrhea immediately after consuming about two cups of Almond milk in the morning and it lasted for about 5 hours.
    I switched from regular milk to almond milk and now I guess I have to take all types of milk out of my food intake…which is sad.
    All the chemicals used in food and cosmetics, etc…are really sickening.

    • Angela says

      Almond milk is Very easy to make and tastes delicious!
      Check web for recipes- should be water & almonds & a dash of vanilla or salt if you like, nothing more is necessary! If you blanch and peel the Almonds (skin slips off easily), it makes the almond mik rich and creamy!

  7. Petros says

    From Livestrong.com: “A study in rats published in ‘International Journal of Cancer’ in 2002 illustrated that high levels of guar gum exacerbated colon cancer risk. Although there have been correlation studies in humans, there have not been any complete clinical trials in humans to examine this possible impact. If you have any history of colon cancer in your family, you should be cautious when consuming large amounts of guar gum.”

  8. Ashley says

    I am also allergic to guar gum. I suspect I have had this allergy for my entire life, but recently discovered it after spending 2.5 weeks in Belize and Guatemala last February and March. I ate freely there and felt better than I have ever felt before! When I returned home to the states, the symptoms came back after eating: nausea, diarrhea, gas, dehydration, and occasionally constipation. The reaction occurs within 15 minutes of ingesting guar gum and can last for hours. I eliminated all of the major allergens out of my diet to discover guar gum has been the culprit this entire time. There is no reason why we need a substance used for fracking in our food. If Guatemalans can eat well without guar gum in their food, so can we.

    I am sick of letting guar gum make me miserable. I contacted the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) this afternoon to file a complaint against this additive. I highly recommend all of you allergic to guar gum to do the same. If we ban together, we can eliminate this from our food. Here is the link to file a complaint with the FDA’s CFSAN: http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofFoods/CFSAN/ContactCFSAN/default.htm

  9. HATE_GUAR_GUM says

    I am alergic to guar gum. I break out in a rash and will get red patch like sores. Especially around the elbows and lower legs on my delicate skin. I will also get flushing and redness around the temples and right in the center of my chest. It got worse as I got older, as more and more items had Guar gum added in. When I stopped eating Guar gum, my chronic dandruff and diarrea stopped. I really wish I lived in Europe like in France, or Belgium. There are laws that prevent this kind of crap ending up in food. I’ve learned how to avoid a large dose of it, but still I get tricked now and again. It should be labeled as an alergen, but unfortunately, it is considered harmless.

  10. says

    I do gluten free, mostly grain free baking and have been searching for a binder. After reading your series of articles, I ordered Gum Arabic from Mountain rose Herbs. When it came on the back of the package is a WARNING: California Proposition 65): This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.

    I’m wondering about this since I planed to use it in bread as a substitute for Xantham gum.

    What do you know about this?

  11. swissik says

    I am very pleased to have found this website as I was googling food additive gums. I am an old lady and have no allergies or sensitivities but I do like to minimize intake of bad stuff. Moreover I have granddaughters with skin issues, one has gut issues, so information about additives is particularly helpful. Thanks.

    • Lisa B says

      I was just saying in another post, why are the elders of native tribes so wise, calm and good energy while north american seniors are crabby, senile and sick?
      You Mrs Swissik are one of the wise elders and your grandchildren are lucky to have you as a grandmother!!!
      Sadly my parents in law are stuck in the 70s mentality of low fat and eating grains and processed foods and swear by eating packaged desserts like pudding and cookies after each lunch and dinner. I am horrified to think what they will try to feed my children once I have them. (I will be telling them the kids are allergic to everything except a WAPF diet).

  12. Geneva says

    I am allergic to all of these gums that they are using and I wish that the FDA(Monsanto) would leave things alone, and just let nature take its course, when they use these gums, they are genetically modifying them. and not using the natural way of doing these gums.

  13. Carrie says

    I have a known allergy to locust bean and carrageenan gums for a number of years. Two bites of a Dove Ice Cream bar and I had a full-blown allergy attack in 20 min. I know to avoid products containing these gums and ask for ingredients at every restaurant and read all labels. Imagine my shock when 20 min. after eating at a fine Italian restaurant (marina sauce and Italian sausages-no pasta), I was in the midst of a major allergy attack. I called the restaurant today and learned that they use their homemade marina sauce to keep their Italian sausages AND purchased meat balls hot on the stove.. At the time of the customer’s order, they dished out the sausage and I enjoyed every bite until 20 min. later and BOOM! I was in serious trouble. The manager checked every ingredient for me immediately and found their purchased meat balls include Locust Bean Gum. I didn’t even order the meat balls and yet the Gum contaminated the sauce resulting in an attack. It’s getting really scary and life-threatening. The manager was shocked at the added ingredient. It’s getting harder and harder to protect oneself – just ask one who has been treated at the emergency room many a time.

    • Anthony says

      If I were you. I will stay and eat at home all the time. There is no way to prevent future problems like the one you had unless you control and prepare your own food.

      • swissik says

        I agree; the only way one can avoid harmful ingredients in food is to prep it at home oneself. Even then watch out for what you add, such as tomato paste from a tube or anything else that comes canned, or otherwise packaged.

  14. Cindy says

    Well, I just had one 8 oz glass of So Delicious Coconut Milk Egg nog and am pretty horribly bloated. Eggs and coconut don’t do this to me….it must be either the xanthan gum or the guar gum that are in the drink….

    • swissik says

      If I remember correctly this (as other) coco. milk contains carrageenan. I don’t buy it any more. I have communicated with Califia another producer of almond milk and was told until they find a suitable substitute they will continue to add carrageenan as well. I mistakenly believed that this particular brand was additive free because when I purchased it at Costco it was sold from the cooler. Today I found almond milk at Walmart in the cooler and it contains only locust bean gum and gellan gum. Both seemingly not so bad if it doesn’t affect one’s gut. Mine is pretty tough.

  15. Mary Beth Harvey says

    I stumbled across this discussion while looking for ways to make marshmallows without corn syrup. (I have a corn allergy.) The information on other food additives that I read here has certainly been enlightening! I do have one question after taking in so much information at once. It seems (for those of us who are not vegetarian) that the best ingredient to use when making foods like marshmallows which demand using SOMETHING to obtain that certain texture and consistency is plain old-fashioned gelatin. Do you agree with my assumption in this scenario? Besides being animal-based, is there anything else creepy about gelatin to consider? Thank you for the education!

  16. says

    Thanks Chris for this article. Out of all the commercial almond milks out there, the Silk Vanilla Unsweetened has the best ingredients. I have no gut issues or discomfort at all. The ingredients that concerned me was the Locust Bean Gum and the sunflower lecithin. After reading this article, I see that the LBG reacts fine with me, and since the lecithin is from sunflowers, I assumed that’s an ok form of lecithin. What do you think?

  17. Sheila says

    Norma Vessels –
    Yes – you are right about Wendys soft ice cream! It has carrageenan and all kinds of GUMS.
    I was diagnosed with eczema and went completely food additive free for 29 days (gluten free also), (plus took Dr. Wallach’s vitamins and mineral regime. I was about 85 % free from eczema – On the 29th day – some friends said lets go to Sams club for some Frozen yogurt. I got Chocolate Frozen yogurt – (before I got home – I was itching like crazy – eczema was back behind my neck (hairline). I called them next day and asked what was in it: Skim pasterized milk, liquid sugar, pasteruzed sweet cream, buttermilk, paster and cultured skin milk, carmel base (corn syrup), cream & salt, water, sugar, sweet condensed skim milk, natural flavored carmel color, AMMo – for color, CARRAGEENAN, salted carmel base (water sugar brown sugar) natural artifical flavors, modified foo starch, salt, citric acid, corn syrup, non fat dry milk, cream, whey, cellulose gum, guar gum, modified food starch, CARRAGEENAN, pectin, contains milk and eggs, contains less 1% of carmel color, mono diglyerides, sweeten pasteruzed egg yolks, and sugar. Now these were listed in order of how much was in it. (so if you see some items listed twice – it was added twice).
    There was no chocolate in this Chocolate Frozen Yogurt (I was sure it was the chocolate – NOPE).
    I read about CARRAGEENAN and this is not a good product – – but now I really question CARRAGEENAN and any GUM’s.
    Anyone wanting to get rid of eczema – just get on a good vit and mineral regime and stay away from CARRAGEENAN and Gum perservatives!!! Actually any perservatives. Then gradually add back into your diet – and you can find out for yourself.
    McDonalds soft icecream has in it Milkfat, nonilk fat, sucrose, corn syrup, 1% of each mono diglyceride, Guar gum, CARRAGEENAN, sodium hexanetophospth, Cellose GUM, artifical flavors, vita Palmilata.
    Good luck Sheila

    The next day, and the day after that, I was so off my balance, I could barely stand up. I realized that it was that large amount of ice cream that sent me there. I read the ingredients of a half gallon of ice cream in my freezer and found the Locust bean gum, the Caro gum and the carragenna, all three in the ice cream.

    • Cindy says

      Dairy is a pretty potent gluten mimicker so it could have caused your problem as well. Now that we know that gluten can be a major cause of allergies, psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases…I would be more concerned with the dairy in that ice cream you ate…

  18. says

    Chris, thank you for the thorough research you are doing! I have started a series of posts about ingredients in the supermarket bought produce (in Switzerland) and your additives guide is extremely useful (just downloaded the ebook too)

  19. Bonnie says

    Thank you for all the informative responses. It’s great having a site like this to weed through our digestive issues together

  20. Rebecca F says

    Chris, in my experience with my own allergic reactions, I have had negative body responses to Guar Gum, including hives, vertigo, heart racing, and nausea. All 3 times after enjoying some kind of dairy free ice cream loaded with guar gum but no other controversial ingredients. I have also read that guar gum is frequently contaminated with soy from processing, and I am also intolerant to soy (but guar gum produced some unique symptoms for me). Something to learn more about for all of us.

  21. Diana says

    What about Methyl Cellulose? (461) Anyone heard of it or know if it’s ok? Sounds a bit artificial to me.
    (It’s in the GF bread I eat along with Guar gum.)

  22. Elena Trujillo says

    Thank you for the info. I am concerned for my daughter who loves to drink Almond milk and wants to get pregnant. I am concern if Almond milk which has locust bean gum and gellan gum would be harmful to a pregnant woman. Should she
    drink the Almond milk?

  23. says

    I tend not to create many remarks, however i did some searching and wound up here Harmful or Harmless: Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, and More. And I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be just me or does it look like some of these remarks look like coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing on additional places, I’d like to keep up with anything fresh you have to post. Could you list of the complete urls of all your shared pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    • Lisa Beaulieu says

      Good day,
      On behalf of all the people contributing to this forum, can you please clarify your requests as stated above. You would like Chris Kresser to give you a list of all his recent activity on all channels, and could you please clarify whom you are calling brain dead?

  24. Jodie R says

    Could someone tell me if there have been studies showing what thickeners (or other things besides coffee, tea, chocolate, and carob) contain theobromine and/or caffeine? I am extremely sensitive to both. (it raises my blood pressure to dangerous levels. Started doing this 3 1/2 years ago.) I read labels like mad, actually didn’t know that locust bean and carob bean are the same thing… glad I skipped the ice cream with locust bean in it tonight, it’s not a fun reaction! thanks

    • Dee says

      The only ice cream I eat is Turkey Hill vanilla or chocolate and Hagaan Das vanilla or chocolate because they are the only ones that just use milk, cream and sugar!
      There is one place near me called Sweet and Crafty that makes soft serve with those three ingredients. I have to sit and watch everytime friends stop for an ice cream cause most add guar gum, xanthem gum, carob gum, tara gum, etc etc etc i have been reading labels for years!!! No creamy things from restaurants and I use only oil and vinegar for a dressing! Processed cheese is a big nono! Fresh mozzarella is my treat! I choose my ricotta, sour cream and yogurt wisely. Gotten used to it after ten years! Good luck!

      • Sandra says

        Are you on fb Jodie? I wil like to know more about what foods you eat. Because I’ve been going that route for a year now & feel at my best.

    • Lori says

      Make sure that when you go to the dentist, to tell them you have this problem. You should not use epinephrine it will stimulate your system and that is not good for someone like you.

    • Cindy says

      I’m not sure why so many ask questions of others….not realizing they have a computer with a search bar and can look up things themselves. Do a search of “foods containing theobromine”, etc…

  25. Dee Cee says

    I have had problems with these “thickeners” /gums for years. I started noticing when I ate ice cream, cream cheese, ricotta, frosting, creamy dressings, etc that had any gums in them, I developed sebatious cysts on my face. A colleague showed up to work with a swollen face and we discovered that he needed to make his own ice cream to eat every night instead of the ones with a million unnecessary ingredients.
    My face is cyst free if I cook my own foods and use ricotta/etc that has three ingredients as it should. Turkey Hill uses milk, cream and sugar in their vanilla bean and chocolate only. Dermatologists have debated with me that it has nothing to do with the gums, but I eat yogurt without it and have no problems. I drink milk so it is not dairy and cheese as they suggest. I buy a block of cheese instead of shredded and have no problems. The moment i eat anything with gums, I have a cyst that last for weeks!
    Do you have any thoughts on this subject?

    • honey says

      It wouldn’t surprise me at all if gums gave you cysts. Milk gives me acne, red burning, rough skin, acid reflux, some kind of arthritis in my feet. Who is to say that your body chemistry isnt affected by gums in such a way that your skin reacts as it does?

      • says

        Hey Honey, how are you? I have celiac disease and believe you also have celiac disease. You can get a blood test to disgnose whether you have it or not.

        For the writer of this article are those who have celiac disease allergic to Gellan Gum, what do you think?

        Thanks in advance,

    • Jacqueline says

      Wow, that is so interesting! 9 years ago I experienced cystic acne over much of my face for a year, couldn’t get rid of it until I saw a naturopath. She changed my diet and added some supplements. I’ve never been sure which change helped it go away. I’ve always suspected it was getting rid of all the soy I was eating, including soy milk and soy ice cream (blech, I know). Now I wonder if the gums had anything to do with it?! I notice when I use protein powders with gums I get extra bloated. Thanks for this info! And thanks Chris for doing such a great job. Love your podcasts also!

  26. Lisa says

    I have been without any of the gums for 5 weeks (the stuff they put in gluten free baking). My digestion immediately improved! Another few days later, I also decided to stay off the gluten free oats until I figured out I could soak them so i’ll try that in future, but being basically GAPS/paleo has helped greatly as well. I think I’m turning against eating things that we have not evolved to eat. Grains and dairy need to be eaten properly: soaked and fermented as was done by our ancestors who figured out HOW to properly eat them safely, same as any other new fangled food. If we can’t figure out how to eat them properly and safely, it’s out. If so many have issues with them (and remember I AM one of those people who thought I was fine with them, but upon eliminating, I realized my other issues were actually related) then it’s not a safe ENOUGH food. Is a food that is safe for some really safe? I realize peanuts are safe for me but not for all, but there’s something else happening here. I think that if those who say they aren’t reacting, just haven’t reacted yet and will suffer consequences later, plus we need to remember something important: ADDITIVES ARE ADDITIVE – they have an additive effect and the more unfair curve balls we throw at our bodies, like a fever, we could get stronger, but with additives and chemicals that can weaken and confuse our bodies, and make them focus hard on working to combat these things which only takes away focus and energy to digest normally.

    • Jennifer says

      I’m sorry, did you write the phrase “gluten free oats”? Do you actually know what Gluten is, or is your current dietary style a mere middle class attempt at appearing unique and elite?

      • says

        Thank you Laura Schoenfeld for your response to Jennifer, I appreciate it.

        Jennifer, I’m just not sure why you were so quick to insult and name call me. I didn’t not target anyone with my comments, they were my learnings, my story that I shared because it is relevant to the topic being discussed here. That’s what we are all doing here. Trying to learn so we can bring health to ourselves and our families. You don’t know me, my health history, or my family’s struggles at all from my post to categorize me as any type of social class and accusing me of coming here on this site to appear as some superior way to everyone else. Would you call a cancer patient avoiding sugar elitist, or a child with a fatal peanut allergy eating an alternative food elitist?

        My experiences are fact. I have suffered with digestive issues and have been doing my own investigation which you could have done yourself by a simple google search. I stated that I was planning to purchase gluten free oats (which I actually did, I tried the onlyoats brand linked on my name) and soaked them per many gluten free sites promoting soaking your grains whether gluten free or not, and tried them. It’s because it breaks down the phytic acid that is on the grains, which unlocks healthy minerals otherwise trapped in there, plus phytic acid is a chelator robbing the body of minerals. This is also a google-able fact that is discussed actually here on Chris Kresser’s site, as well as many others. For those interested, I did fine on soaked oats and continue to learn about proper food preparation for my family’s health.

        Your comment that I have a “dietary lifestyle” that is elite seems to reflect that you don’t believe anyone actually has a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, at all. If you believe that, go ahead and make your identical comment on other pages of this site, and other respectable forums for people who have suffered for years with digestive issues due to gluten and other grain issues. Go sit in the waiting room of a GI clinic and tell them they are elitist for avoiding grains and purchasing alternative foods in their desperate effort to try something to alleviate their horrible painful suffering. There are genuinely people and even children truly suffering from these things. Have you ever been sick and paid for a medicine? If so, you are elitist for spending money on a remedy as well.

        As Laura said, gluten free oats, like many other gluten free grains, in case you are surprised by that as well, are sold at any health food store and affordable for anyone, not only reserved for the elite as you imply. By the way, we save money by making foods at home, with cheap ingredients like cabbage to make probiotic sauerkraut, buying organ meat which is many times cheaper than popular cuts, and sacrifice what we must when necessary. For example, some people just don’t bother purchasing the alternative gluten free items, which appears in many comments on this site by others as well. Soaking grains is actually a free activity.

        Just like everyone else here, we are sharing what we’ve learned anecdotally. None of us are elitists or have millions for grants to pool together and make a study of our own, so we go by the studies there are, ensure we are looking at things from all sides, and coming together in an environment where we can share our knowledge. If no one shared their story, we wouldn’t have been able to confirm our knowledge because we wouldn’t know we were alone in our problems.

        We are sharing our stories for support, and knowledge for the goal of trying to heal, and watch our families grow to be healthy and strong, I’m sure Jennifer you have the same goals for yourself and your family, or future family. Despite your comment, I hope you and your family don’t end up with such a digestive condition or any other health afflictions because no one should know first hand what we’ve experienced. You, and all of us, have the right to learn from all the wonderful research and articles there are here, and elsewhere.

        Not sure what you were trying to accomplish with your hostility but those of us will real digestive issues are going about our journeys to health with or without your negative comments.

          • Sarah says

            Agreed, well said. I know of several people who can’t have gluten. The one is so sensitive that if wheat flour touches her skin, it turn red and itchy. I’ve asked those with various allergies, intolerances, and diet issues that much of their current diet is to trial and error, documenting what worked and what failed.

        • Chhanda says

          Thanks Lisa for sharing your story. It resonates at different levels. And you are right, the best way is to cook from scratch as much as possible. That way most additives and harmful chemicals can be avoided. I liked some of your suggestions.

          As for Jennifer, she was probably having a hard day and decided to take it out on a stranger on the internet. Hope she’s feeling better now.

          • Susan says

            I appreciate giving Jennifer a bit of understanding. We all face our own trials. Thanks to all for great comments. This discussion has really enlightened me. And thanks to Chris for his ever-thoughtful posts. Wonderful!

        • Lori says

          Well said and I completely agree with you, people should know what they are talking about before they go shooting off their mouth.
          Do you know who Elisabeth Hasselbeck is? If so, then you should know that gluten free is not a fab, if not I suggest you google her and read her story, because she has a truly moving story that has helped millions. Living a gluten free lifestyle is not a choice most people because they want to, its because that have to. Someone who has Celiac disease has to be very careful everywhere they go when it comes to food, because it is very easy to cross-contaminate food and they will get deathly ill, where as someone who is sensitive or intolerant will suffer but not die. I have no choice but to live a gluten free lifestyle if I want to be able to enjoy a normal life, and ignorant people who think it is a joke or a choice need to be educated, like Lisa said would you make fun of or open a bag of peanuts in front of someone who is highly allergic to peanuts, I would hope not! I glad you are healthy and don’t have health issues to deal with, because if you did you wouldn’t have made the remarks you did. So next time before you open your mouth or engaged your figures to insult someone’s choices, learn about it first, then you can make intelligent remarks.
          Great information, I love to bake and being gluten free, I have always used Xanthan Gum, but I will try Gum Arabic and see how it works, do you know if this is gluten free?
          Thanks, live happy and healthy in whatever lifestyle you choose.

        • Maria says

          Well said Lisa, we have to turn to these sites for info & do our own research, as with intolerances our doctors aren’t of much help.

        • Tina says

          It’s been a while since I have joined a conversation. When I saw your response I was very proud of you. I see and work with many people that have to deal with health issues. I am a nutritional analyst, and can test a person for allergies and substances that act adversely to ones body. I don’t need a machine to do this. Your own body can reveal what is wrong. It is unfortunate that in today’s food environment we now have to battle to keep from being poisoned by the same entities that claim to be on our side for our well being. I have watched since the 1970’s the changes in our food and with it the increase of every type of illness known to man. I have preached go “back to basics” on eating and preparing foods for many years. We are overpowered by the profits that can be made by feeding us mass produced, high sugar, wheat and what ever else put into it to make the taste buds swim with delight. Even the educational system refuse to teach the correct food. They believe the lies told back when I was in school and will not change it to enhance the proper learning of the children new in this world. We wait for someone else to provide what they insist is OK for us and then years later after many illnesses discover that they were wrong. If you really want a good lesson in that look up Ancel Keys and find out what this idiot did to the whole world by his egotistical findings. There are millions of people on cholesterol medicine and killing themselves because of his false information. It amazes me how one person can destroy so many peoples lives. Again I find it so encouraging that people like you insist on finding the truth.

      • Jen says

        I want to add that, not only are oats cross contaminated when they are harvested and stored, BUT there are a number of Celiacs that will also react to Gluten free oats, because oats contain proteins that are similar enough to gluten to invoke a response. I know because I researched it and I am one such person who has a bad intestinal response to them.

      • ranee says

        please be aware that even though oat is a gluten free grain, unless it is labeled gluten free, oatmeal can contain up to 40% gluten. before you bash helpful, knowledgeable people, check the facts. thank you

  27. Roy Firus says

    Guar gum has been shown to increase the risk of cancer of the colon, Google for infor.souces.

  28. Cindy says

    Chris since my son eats gluten free and dairy free. I would like to know your opinion about the different kind of flours in the market like almond flour or tapioca, rice, coconut, potato. Which one do you think is better for a gluten free person?

    • Roy Firus says

      Because of the dangers of solanine in potatoes and that almonds are a goiterogen and if not organic rice is heavily sprayed – I would suggest( org.) coconut flour.

  29. Cindy says

    Your articles are always great. Thank you so much to explain such a details information.
    You are helping me a lot with my son’s diet.
    I bought a coconut milk that contained both carrageenan and guard gum.
    Many thanks

  30. Mike says

    I have recently experienced two separate allergic reactions from ingesting a whey protein product mixed with a different brand almond milk on each occurance. A review of the almond milk ingredients revealed both contain xanthan gum, carrageenan, and guar gum. The whey protein, which I have consumed fairly frequently, also contains xanthan gum. I am hyper allergic to any food product containing the most minute amount of penicillin(generally beef and dairy products).
    Unfortunately, I have not yet read Chris’ previous articles in his series.
    Has anyone had similar resulting reactions from the above noted gum products?

  31. Lisa says

    Thank you SO much for this article and all the others regarding gums! Finally I have a clue what is going on with me and I will do a test over the next weeks to see how I do trying to avoid these gums that are in all my GF foods (very sensitive to gluten and dairy – major gas, discomfort and not pretty gm’s.) Have not been able to figure out why I am still having digestive problems when I’ve been staying away from gluten and wheat! I will reply to my own post if I remember, so I can report my findings. This morning I had my probiotic soy yogourt from bioK, black coffee (a must despite the digestive implications) and GF pure oat flour pancakes with a tiny bit of pure maple syrup from Quebec. The pancake mix containing only oat flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar, from the company called Only Oats which I bought from Community Natural Foods so I know the source is decent. That was a few hours ago… so far so good.

    • Lisa says

      correction in the second sentence – in parentheses: not pretty gm’s not gm’s!

      Since all GM’s are inherently not pretty 😉

        • Carol R says

          But you gave me a good morning chuckle…..so thank you! Perhaps your original typo was nature’s assistance with discretion!

        • Irene says

          Yes Lisa my whole family is gluten free and even though they are gluten free oats we still react to them. I have read that there is a form of gluten in oats and some people are reactive to this form of gluten as well. So basically it’s no oats for us, although we have recently discovered quinoa flakes which are a great replacement.

    • MimiLee says

      Lisa —

      I also get major gas and discomfort from gluten and dairy….AND from soy and oats. So therein may lay your culprits. Dealing with digestive issues can unfortunately mean avoiding more than just gluten and dairy (and guar gum?)!

  32. JR says

    We found by food elimination and re introductions that My daughter and I both are allergic to Guar Gum. My daughter is Gluten free * from an allergy of mold that grows on wheat* and so in buying things gluten free we were exposed to Guar Gum and both would get very ill.
    In our test and food rotations also Ameranth was another. We just eat lots of whole foods and veggies :)
    It is tough to find foods without gums most of the time.

    • JR says

      Correction Amaranth is My allergy. We have kept it away from our daughter since she would break out from Natural juice boxes that used it for color.

  33. Ruth says

    I’m looking at the additives as an option to use in wheat free baking. Some options I like better than others, haven’t decided which is best but this info is extremely helpful.

  34. carol says

    I understand the reference to the animal studies, however, I am not a rat, or a dog and I doubt that anyone is really interested on how these chemicals react on them! I want to know what they do to humans! This animal testing that still continues is rediculous, most studies on animals do not reflect the same results on humans. That being said, I love this site and know you are referring to what is available.

    • Ella says

      Hi Carol, He mentioned quite a lot about the effects on humans and cited human studies where available, in addition to the animal studies. Did you read the whole article?

  35. Leonard Duff says

    I am enjoying your discussion about the “gum” additives now being used and studied. I would like to see, as additional information added to your articles, the components for fiber, carbohydrate, protein, and fat. I need this information due to being diagnosed with Type2 diabetes. I am looking for a replacement for wheat noodles, with a high fiber/protein content. Thanks for the info!

  36. Jessy says

    My daughter used a product frm herbalife three years ago for about a month She has been.suffering with severe bloating belching excessive gas and stomach cramps for three years now What can she use to for relief please?

  37. says

    Really enjoying this series. I’ve encouraged several of my clients to visit your blog recently when they have questions about these additives. I can tell them these things are safe or not, but it gives them a resources when they get home. Keep up the good research!

  38. kshelia says

    Has anyone heard of Caragum? I am trying to find out what blend of gums are in it, I have gotten conflicting data…


  39. Zane says

    Speaking of prebiotics.
    After listening to the podcast with Jeff Leach I was curious about using onion powder, mixed in water, the same way people use potato starch as a prebiotic. I’m not suggesting replacing cooked food with powder, but as a supplement to a nutritious diet and busy schedule.Might that be a beneficial way for increasing levels of Bifidobacterium?
    Thanks Chris

  40. jim says

    Thank you for this article, I have forwarded it to some friends…i’ll bet that arrowroot is also not good for the gut as well, right?

  41. CCM says

    Very interesting post, Chris. Does the guar gum and locust gum seem to behave in a way similar to *resistant starch* – promoting beneficial microbes and modulating blood glucose? Would you classify potato starch and tapioca starch as similar to the guar and locust gum?

  42. says

    Thank you Chris for the informative series. Patients are often confused about selecting foods containing these ingredients and the data you present will give them a good basis for making informed choices.

  43. David says

    Really enjoying this series so far. Maybe it’s already in the pipeline already, but I’d love to see an evaluation of titanium dioxide.

  44. Robert Jacobs says

    Seems you have left out two items which are commonly used and which some have reported to have long term detrimental effects: di-calcium phosphate, which is reported to inhibit mineral absorption, and microcrystalline cellulose, which is indigestible and may build up in the body.

    • Kevin says

      Robert, could you point me toward your sources for the long term detrimental effect of microcrystalline cellulose? My googling so far has failed to turn it up. Thanks.

    • Norma Vessels says

      I am probably the one in a million, but I find myself allergic to the bean gum families. I was going around very unwell, with a pulling in my ears, stuffy head, sudden dizzy spells, and going around for 8 months trying to stay on my feet because of a feeling of unbalance.

      One day my sister and I went shopping with me hanging onto the cart, and when we were done, we stopped and got some ice cream from Wendy’s.

      The next day, and the day after that, I was so off my balance, I could barely stand up. I realized that it was that large amount of ice cream that sent me there. I read the ingredients of a half gallon of ice cream in my freezer and found the Locust bean gum, the Caro gum and the carragenna, all three in the ice cream.

      I stopped eating ice cream, and everything that has any of the three compounds in the food. I came out of the dizzy spells and the wobbiling around, even though there are still smaller symptoms left over.

      I’m still searching for other ingredients that is harming me.

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