Harmful or Harmless: Xanthan Gum | Chris Kresser

Harmful or Harmless: Xanthan Gum

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Gluten-free baked goods often contain xanthan gum. diego_cervo/istock/thinkstock

I hope everyone had a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving! Today, I’m continuing my series on common food additives.

Last time, I discussed the health effects of carrageenan, a food additive that is commonly used as a stabilizer, thickener, or emulsifier. Another additive that shares many of these functions in commercial foods is xanthan gum, which is also popular in gluten-free baked goods for the elasticity it lends to dough.

Although it isn’t as heavily discussed in the blogosphere as the other additives I’ve covered thus far, many health-conscious people see it on ingredient lists and wonder what it is, and whether they should be eating it. In this article, I’ll do my best to answer those questions.

Should you avoid xanthan gum in gluten-free baked goods? Find out in this article.Tweet This

Xanthan gum is a largely indigestible polysaccharide that is produced by bacteria called Xanthomonas Camestris. (1) Manufacturers place the bacteria in a growth medium that contains sugars and other nutrients, and the resulting product of bacterial fermentation is purified, dried, powdered, and sold as xanthan gum. (Makes you wonder who first thought to put it in food, doesn’t it?)

Animal Studies

Overall, the results from animal studies on xanthan gum aren’t very concerning. In one experiment, rats were fed xanthan gum for two years in concentrations of 0.25, 0.50 or 1.0 g/kg body weight per day. (2) The only notable difference between the xanthan gum groups and the control group was that rats fed xanthan gum experienced soft stools somewhat more frequently than the control rats, but even that barely reached statistical significance. There were no differences in growth rate, survival, blood markers, organ weights or tumor incidence.

Another experiment followed a similar design but used dogs instead of rats, and the results were the same: no changes other than occasional soft stools. (3) In a three-generation reproductive study, rats were fed either 0.25 or 0.50 g/kg per day, and there were no significant changes in the parents and offspring from the xanthan gum-receiving groups. (4)

Based on those initial studies, it was concluded that xanthan gum is a perfectly safe food additive. Since then, a few additional animal studies with different aims have been published.

One study, conducted to evaluate the effects of xanthan gum on digestion in rats, found that a diet containing 4% xanthan gum increased the amount of water in the intestines by 400%, and also increased the number of sugars remaining in the intestine. (5) Another study found that in rats fed 50 g/kg of xanthan gum (an incredibly high dose) for 4 weeks, the stool water content and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) content increased significantly. (6)

This last study actually relates to the potential anti-tumor properties of xanthan gum, and researchers found that orally administered xanthan gum was able to slow tumor growth and prolong the survival of mice with melanoma. (7) The mechanism is unclear, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Human Studies

Due to the lack of harmful effects observed in animal studies, there are few human studies on xanthan gum. The first study aimed to determine the safety of xanthan gum when consumed by humans in an everyday dietary setting, but at levels much higher than people would normally encounter in their diet. (8) For 23 days, 5 adult men with no GI issues consumed between 10.4g and 12.9g of xanthan gum daily (based on the subjects’ weight), which is 15 times the current Acceptable Daily Intake of 10mg/kg. Overall, they experienced a reduction in serum cholesterol, an increase in fecal bile acid, and an increase in stool output and water content.

Another study had volunteers consume 15g of xanthan gum per day for 10 days. (9) They found xanthan gum to be a “highly efficient laxative,” and subjects experienced greater stool output and gas. That’s not very surprising considering the high dose, but what I found particularly interesting about this study was their measurement of the ability of subjects’ fecal bacteria to metabolize xanthan gum.

The researchers found that before the trial period, bacteria from the stools of only 12 of the 18 subjects could break down the xanthan gum, while after the trial period, bacteria from 16 of the subjects could break it down. (10) Additionally, the stool samples containing bacteria that could break down the xanthan gum showed a much greater production of hydrogen gas and SCFA after the trial period as compared to baseline, indicating that the intestinal bacteria of the subjects quickly adapted to this new food source. Clearly, xanthan gum (like many indigestible carbohydrates) can have a profound impact on the gut microbiota in large doses.

Colitis in Infants

The only concerning research I found on xanthan gum relates to the development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in infants. Earlier this year, the New York Times published an article relating the tragic deaths of infants who had developed NEC after consuming a diet of formula or breast milk that had been thickened with a xanthan gum-based product called SimplyThick. This product was widely used in hospitals to thicken feed for infants with swallowing difficulties.

Two papers reviewed the cases of xanthan gum-associated NEC, and while there isn’t enough data to establish causation, the general consensus seems to be that the xanthan gum caused increased bacterial production of SCFA in the newborns’ intestines, and this contributed to the development of NEC. (11, 12) Although SCFA are vital to colon health, the immature digestive systems of newborns appear to be extremely sensitive to them. (13, 14) Since then, general practice guidelines suggest avoiding manufactured thickening products in babies under 12 months old, and rice cereal or baby oatmeal is used instead.

I wanted to address this because while it’s clearly important to avoid giving xanthan gum to infants (especially in large amounts), I’d like to emphasize that none of this changes the fact that xanthan gum appears to be relatively harmless in adult humans. None of the animal or human studies found damage to the intestinal mucosa following xanthan gum consumption, even in large doses, so this danger appears to be unique to newborns. For everyone else, SCFA aren’t something to be afraid of, and they are actually beneficial for the gut and for metabolic health, as I mention in previous articles here and here.

Wheat, Corn, Soy, and Dairy Allergies

I mentioned in the opening section that xanthan gum is produced by bacterial fermentation of a sugar-containing medium. Unfortunately, that ‘medium’ is often a potentially allergenic substance such as corn, soy, dairy, or wheat. Many xanthan gum manufacturers aren’t eager to share what their ‘medium’ is, but one common supplier, Bob’s Red Mill, discloses their production practices.

It looks like they originally used corn or soy as a medium, but they’ve since changed their medium to a glucose solution derived from wheat starch. However, they claim that the xanthan gum is still gluten-free, and it continues to be marketed as such.

It can be difficult to find production info online, but just be aware that if you have a severe allergy to corn, soy, wheat, or dairy, it would be prudent to either avoid xanthan gum entirely or check with the manufacturer to see how it’s produced.

Conclusion

Based on the available evidence, the worst xanthan gum seems to be capable of (in adults) is causing some digestive distress in those who are susceptible by increasing stool bulk, water content, and sugar content. But as I just mentioned, those with severe allergies should also be careful.

I recommend that people with digestive problems generally avoid xanthan gum, not because there’s evidence that it could damage your gut, but because its structural properties make it likely to produce unpleasant gut symptoms. Unlike carrageenan, there’s no evidence that xanthan gum can cause serious harm (even in human studies using doses much higher than people would normally encounter), so if you are able to tolerate it, I see no compelling reason to strictly avoid it. I wouldn’t recommend consuming large amounts every day, because xanthan gum appears to have a high propensity for altering the gut microbiome, and it’s unclear whether that alteration could be problematic in the long run. But the small amounts that you would normally encounter in the context of a real-food diet shouldn’t present a problem.

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  1. In the last 15 yrs, many additives have arrived in our foods – the “gums”, vanillin, chocolate liquor, caramel coloring, annatto and more. Whether they are natural or scientifically safe, they have made my life miserable. I used to eat any food, but now these additives are everywhere as others have noted. I’ve also found that Xanthum gum in combination with baking soda, as an ingredient in GF baked goods, causes an unusual problem. A nerve? from the brain, along the left side of my body, to the groin, to the toes….feels like it is being yanked over and over. I suppose it’s a spasm? It goes on for HOURS and subtly into the next day or so. It doesn’t happen with 1-2 cookies or muffins, but a few extra, when I can’t resist newly baked items. I can brush my teeth with baking soda, so I suspect the combination of BS and XG. I eat GF because gluten gives me migraines. So, I eat GF foods w Xanthum gum, which gives me diarrhea, if I eat day after day. Unlike others here, I don’t get bloating and gas. All the ingredients I mentioned give me migraines. I would believe MANY more people are suffering in silence or ignorance of what food additives are doing to their bodies. I have friends who mention things, but are embarrassed to discuss. Science is unsympathetic, so writing to food companies, not eating such foods, writing about such problems elsewhere might be helpful.

  2. After months of strange allergic reactions to different types of foods, I began a food journal to track and discover what the trigger may be. I had allergic reactions in the form of hives on my lips and would immediately need to use the restroom. My lip skin and the skin surrounding, would take weeks to fully heal.

    So after eating certain Cheese products, ice cream, Chalula (hot sauce), Siracha (hot sauce), I realized the common ingredient was Xanthan Gum!!!! But its not just in food, I also has to throw out a few body lotions as well.

    I have gotten into the habit of checking all ingredients before ingesting (although I rarely eat prepared foods). A coworker brought me in a Caramel Frappacino yesterday; I fully enjoyed it until I started breaking out in hives! My arms were red and swollen in less than ten minutes and started getting dizzy. Lucky for my purse being stocked with Benedryl; took 3 pills and drank about a .5 gallon of water. Once my body calmed down I googled the ingredients of the Frapp, and what do ya know? Xanthan Gum!!!!!

    So this additive has found its way into all areas of production. That was my worst reaction yet, and very scary.

    • The food journal for the purpose of pinpointing allergies is a great idea. I’ve developed soy, yeast, corn and gluten allergies. I’ve been GF for about 2 years. However I’m sick just a out every day. I’ve tried to improve my diet but pretty much every day I have painful gas, bloating and diarrhea. I did a juice cleanse recently and felt great after with none of these symptoms. The first solid meal I had after was stir fry with veggies, quinoa and chicken. I used a trader Joe’s sauce. About 2 hours later I felt awful again. Today I had a salad with marzetti salad dressing. Again, 2 hours later, I’m sick. The common ingredients are soybean oil, yeast extract and xanthan gum. I guess I know what to avoid now. I’m so tired of feeling like crap! I’m going to do the food journal to see what ingredients exactly, are making me sick. I guess GF isn’t enough if most GF products have xanthan gum.

      • Yes Zoni- avoid the GF products as almost all contain Xanthum Gum. Make your own. Its also possible you may have developed a grain allergy, which is what happened to me. Bake your own items using Tapioca flour, Garbanzo flour, and Coconut flour mixed together, unless you have an allergy to any of those (I develop intolerance to Tapioca and Coconut too if I have it frequently). If you aren’t allergic to nuts you can also use Almond flour. Good luck!!

  3. my daughter has gastro problems. She has restricted diet due to intolerances including dairy, many fruits, xanthan gum. During a recent illness she was prescribed amoxicillin. She has experienced continuous hiccupping, bloated stomach and tummy pain. After searching the web for amoxicillin ingredients, found out it contains xanthan gum. It’s difficult to get people to acknowledge this intolerance as most of them have never heard of it.

    • That’s like when my doctor prescribed me anti-histamines to combat the hives from my severe allergies – and only made them worse – as the anti-histamines contained corn! yes I empathize!

    • Yes I agree….we are from the U.K. I always ask the pharmacist…if it contains XG, Maize, or Guar guar gum…which is
      derived from bean product!! Recently found out…you can have the same meds such as cetirizine, a antihistamine, with or without Maize (Sweetcorn) you would never know unless you read the ingredients!! Usually the liquid does not contain the Maize…but the tablet does.

  4. Thanks, Chris, just what I needed: I have a serious problem with starches and the last thing I need is ‘bulk’! I have steered clear of Xanthan and guar gum for this reason, on a ‘gut feeling’ that it’s not a good option for me. You just confirmed that my gut might not function on a physiological level but its instincts are doing fine:-)!

  5. My father had Huntingtons, and this eventually meant he had difficulty swallowing. We were told to use Simply think in all of his drinks, soup. He did suffer great digestive distress. I wonder if this was why?

    • In our desire to help, but in ignorance, we may actually cause more pain. By giving my autistic daughter (who had digestive issues from before I adopted her) gluten free products, I may very well have exacerbated her problem. So many gluten free foods contained (and now even more contain) xanthan gum. I even bought a big bottle to use in cooking. Thank heaven I never got around to using it! We can only learn and move on.

  6. Hi, Great post, I have been gluten free 4 years now, basically 80.10.10 diet which has cut out the intake of Xanathan gum. I know the diet is very basic but have never felt better. I am 66 and am still working. I use hemp flour as a protein supplement in my smoothies with no side effects. Almost everything I eat is fresh. Aches and pains in joints etc are minimal unless I stray. (unintentially) when I visit a restaurant and eat something GF, which turns out to be not free I then suffer sleep disorder, digestive disorders etc and generally feel off color for 2-4 days.

    • For removal of pain, try ‘Earthing.’ All of my chronic neck pain is gone, and energy levels are way up. It simply works!

  7. I love xanthan gum. I have IBS-C and taking just 1 tsp of this per day is about the only thing that prevents me from getting blockages, which could get me in the ER 3 times per year because of impactions, even with prescribed meds.

    I had tried anything from any and every type of probiotic, to any and every type and dose of fiber, to any and every type of med, to any and every type of diet, bowel training and so on. I spent the last 10 years struggling with that. And just when I was about to settle down to giving myself an enema every few days for the rest of my life, I found xanthan gum (gosh I sound like an infomercial but I’m really sincere).

    Not enough gas to bring discomfort (at least not more than my initial issues), and as time passes the colon gets used to it and it lessens. I don’t care if someone tries to guilt-trip me about unnatural this and chemical that, this is the best remedy I have ever found.

    • I’m so glad this is helpful to you and hopefully some others as well. It just goes to show we’re all different. It’s just too bad many folks are having intestinal distress and perhaps blaming it on food poisoning when it may really be related to xanthan gum and their previous gut issues. It would be great if it could be left out of food and only sold as a supplement for health and home cooking and the rest of the world not be fed it in so many other items without knowing the possible consequences.

      • I agree, it should be sold as a medication or remedy for constipation for those who need it to relieve symptoms, not forced upon the general public as an additive, for whom it can cause severe and even dangerous side effects, like for me intestinal hemorrhage.

  8. Interesting. I’m another with reactions–dx’d with celiac’s, I tried xanthan gum powder for home cooking–found it obviously problematic & more gut pain than wheat ever caused. Recall reading original use was as an oil rig drill lubricant; its discovery was from mold found on cabbage.
    I couldn’t believe when I read in your article that hospitals fed this to infants–what nutritional value did they think it had? It dehydrates the gut due to it’s ability to attract and hold a vast amount of fluid.

    • Pharmaceutical composition for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease
      US 7341741 B1
      Please all read the above US Patent this material is used to treat IBD Crohns & Left Side Ulcerative Colitis

      • Nexabiotic 23 Probiotics with Doctor Recommended L Acidophilus B Infantis S Boulardii, Stomach Acid Resistant

        In addition to the above reply I would also like to comment that intestinal Fluora composition can cause inflammation responses to foods and polysaccharides. The above product has also been used to correct C. difficile. The probiotics repopulate the intestinal fluora and prevent other bacteria from overwhelming the gut with toxins that can cause inflammation. Please look up this product or a similar one and try it. See if some of your food allergies abate.

  9. I was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis over three years ago. I am looking to cook gluten and grain free except for grains Mike amaranth, millet, etc. I am always hunting for anything that will take down the inflammation levels. I’d like to get off the prednisone but no far this hasn’t been possible.

  10. thanks for your article and yes it did help with my concern i don’t eat animal nor any dairy…so most of my chooses are vegan recipes. what i miss most about not eating any dairy is grill cheese, so i discover Daiya Mozzarella style shreds yummy…then after reading an article from food babe regarding ingredients in vegan process food harmful to you digestive system. i checked the ingredients in my cheese and was glad it doesn’t contain any of the ingredients food babe mention. one of the ingredients is xanthan gum so now im on a mission to check all the ingredients (daunting job) so was so thankful for your article

    • My son is allergic to dairy and I have been reading labels, researching and blogging like crazy now… I too found some of the only truly dairy free products we can use, contain this gum now also… so idk what to do.. I am going to call the companies to check, but otherwise there is almost nothing completely dairy free out there to have on hand.. everything has to be made from scratch it seems…

      • I am having the same concerns. My daughter has cow’s milk protein allergy, but these gums are often derived from soy and dairy. The thing that is making me think that is OK, as un-natural as it is, xanthan gum is derived from the sugars, not the proteins. Thoughts?

        • Hi All, My son is in his 14th year and has multiple allergies…….dairy is one if the groups…just would like you to be aware…he received pain relief that contained xgum….oh my…the eyes and lips all swelled…and this took place in hospital….so please be extra cautious!! as XG..may derive from dairy, soya, corn or wheat!

  11. I was diagnosed with celiac about 5 or 6 months ago. Prior to that, I had a soy intolerance – probably from half a life-time of eating lots of soy products as I was a vegetarian due to my religion. Once the celiac kicked in, I started having problems with gluten free foods, like most people on this site. I use a pendulum to let me know what is in foods before I buy or eat them. But being older and lazy, I sometimes neglect to bring it out. Plus other members of my family think I’m crazy using it. But it has saved me a lot of grief. I found out the hard way that xanthan gum was one of my big problems as I ate some gluten free bread and knew I had been “glutened”. So, I went over every ingredient with my pendulum, and sure enough, it was xanthan. Last night, we took my DIL out for her birthday dinner – restaurant had a very nice gluten free menu, and I went over it with the pendulum, and my meal was fine. But then they brought out a dish of ice cream which my DIL doesn’t eat, so the rest of us dug in – I had about two teaspoons of it, and last night, my heart sped up, my joints ached,. This morning, my tummy felt like crap and I was nauseated. So, I took the pendulum out and went over everything I ate, and sure enough, xanthan gum in the ice cream. Some foods cause my mouth to tingle right away, but once in a while, I get a delayed reaction and know I have been “glutened” with the stuff. Now I have to go through everything in the house to make sure none of my toiletries, etc. contains the stuff. I am almost 80 years old and would really like to feel good the rest of what is left of my life if I can.

  12. For years I struggled with some sort of mystery food intolerance. It happened often, especially when eating out. I could not figure out what was bothering me, but whatever it was would have me doubled over on the toilet for hours, sometimes also leading to vomiting. Doctors ran all sorts of tests, including an upper GI and allergy tests. I tried an elimination diet, but was unable to find the culprit. Fast forward to when I was breast feeding… my son was having a skin problem that may have stemmed from something in my diet, so I cut the likely culprits (dairy, egg, soy, etc.) to see if I could figure it out. It wasn’t until I cut out wheat that I put two and two together. I had bread with xanthan gum in it and, boy, did it make me sick!! Just about every commercial gluten free baked good had the same effect. Then, I noticed that I often got sick when I had salad at restaurants (nearly all commercial dressings contain xanthan gum- at home I always made my own dressing, so how would I know this?). It didn’t take long to narrow it down at that point. Now that I avoid it, the mystery is solved. Whenever I do have a reaction, I can generally trace it back to a xanthan gum source. That stuff is awful, and in so many things! From cough syrup to cream cheese, it’s a mine field whenever I ingest something from a kitchen other than my own.

    • Thank you Shea for sharing your knowledge about the different foods that have bothered you. I also often have to literally run to the bathroom after eating in restaurants, usually before I even finish eating. I knew it was not spoiled food because no one else would get sick from the same food. I always attributed it to something that is sprayed on salads. Now I truly believe it is an Xanthan Gum allergy or reaction.

  13. Are Xantham Gum molecules absorbed into the skin? I have an intolerance to it, so I don’t eat it in food, but it is in gluten free cosmetics. Will it be safe to use them, or should I avoid them completely? I’m confused. Thanks.

    • I had this same question. I don’t have an intolerance however. I would assume that it’s safe to use on the skin as it probably wouldn’t make it to the intestines.

    • I react badly to xantham gum in my food, but do not have a problem with it in cosmetics (I do check that it is not in anything going on or near my lips). Having said that, I try to avoid buying anything with it in, as I really don’t like the idea of that gum gunging up my drains either!!

  14. Thanks for the info. I’ve been doing lots of research lately due to fear of many things put in our food and due to a frat brother’s death from supplements.

    I haven’t had any problems but this helps alot!

    • Theo,

      I have been on large doses of supplements for a year. Is it possible for you to expand on what happened with your frat brother? I’ve been having some problems. Perhaps lead me somewhere to find out more about this?

      Thanks very much!

      • Although I do not know his great brother, I can tell you taking supplements is safe as long as you know what you are taking. Some supplements, such as Thrive by Le-Vel and HerbaLife, don’t list everything in their products. They claim a “proprietary blend” but don’t mention it. Simply doing your research on the supplement you are using can shove many problems. I use coconut oil and essential oils for most of my supplemental needs.

  15. I was born with Gastroschisis (born with my insides on the outside of my body) and and Xanthan Gum kills me.

    I hate when I buy something labeled “All Natural” or ” No artificial Anything”

    Does anyone agree with me that Xanthan Gum is not natural or think it IS Artificial..

    • I have a latex allergy and im allergic to all Gums (GAR, ARABIC, XANTHAN, ETC). None of it is safe in my opinion. I couldnt figure out why i was swelling up and in lots of pain until i seen the 4th allergy specialist and he know right off back what it was and since ive cut out eating them ive felt much better but its tricky cause that stuff is in everything we eat

  16. There sure are a lot of comments on this post and I must confess I have not read them all but agree with a number of posts to stay away from processed foods.

    I am wheat intolerant and so I avoid things like breads, pizza, biscuits/cookies, cakes, etc. You have to consider that these all contain processed products.

    So when gluten-free products became widely available I still avoided them because they too contain processed products.

    I make all my own “mayonnaise”, sauces, relishes, etc. and I use xanthan for some things, corn flour/corn starch for others or a combination of both but it’s always in small quantities and I don’t use/eat them every day and I have no issues/reactions.

    I think the biggest difference in my (food) life was to just avoid as many store-bought products as possible.

    It’s not always possible I understand, so the only preservatives I will accept on a food label are vitamin C (ascorbic acid/E300-305) or vitamin E (tocopherol/E306-309) otherwise I’m not buying it.

    I still enjoy the occasional burger or pizza but yeah, my body then let’s me know how naughty I’ve been :-p

    • I found that making my own baked goods makes a huge difference in my health. Now that GMOs are in ALL soy and corn in the U.S. that means there is Round Up poison in all products containing corn and soy, I find it impossible to eat any processed food. In addition to all the numerous items listed on the ingredients list that I can’t even pronounce, it just is too time consuming to constantly take time to research all the different ingredients. I make cookies with only 3 or 4 ingredients in them, same for pie crusts, and many more processed foods. For Easter this year, I’m making all my own, from salad dressings to biscuits to apple crisp for dessert. I found recipes online that don’t use xanthan gum.

    • Not all ascorbic acid/aka vitamin c is what it seems to be. Alot of food companies make their ascorbic acid/aka vitamin c from black mold.

      • Hi Marina

        Thanks for bringing this to my attention! So citric acid (E330) is made using black mould involving yet another evil…fructose corn syrup).

        While ascorbic acid (listed as E300) is found to be naturally occurring also, the industrial manufacturing process is different to citric acid and on a molecular level is the closest to vitamin C out of the two (naturally occurring ascorbic acid is a form of vitamin C).

        As with anything manufactured, that slight difference in structure most often denies it the ability to be assimilated as a food component by our bodies. It may act as a preservative but nothing more and in this case has little to no effect on the human body in such small quantities (from the research I’ve done…I’m certainly no chemist).

        In this case I’m ok with E300 considering the manufacturing process. Yes au naturale is prize #1 but everything is made up of a chemical combination, whether natural or man-made. I mean numerous fruit seeds contain cyanide but at such tiny doses do no harm to our bodies.

  17. I recently found out that I have a later in life intolerance to gluten. So in the course of avoiding it, I believe I am on to discovering that xanthan gum, in some of the new products (Udi’s for example) is also causing problems. A search about this led me to this page and others. I am going to search for products without it, and for the occasional treat, bake my own, using chia seed and banana and egg . That seems to work. I don’t think xanthan gum is at all necessary, and Hope the product manufacturers get wind of this development among so many people and stop using it.

  18. My wife has an supra pubic catheter which blocks with long strands of a mucoid white substance when she uses a liquids thickener containing xanthin gum. I am convinced that the blockage is caused by the gum and on cutting the catheter open and examining the substance it does mould in to something resembling chewing gum. However it seems unlikely that the thickener would be absorbed to pass into the bladder. Any thoughts on this, anyone? Thanks.

    • It’s possible, whatever we eat affects our whole system. When I have used Truvia sweetener it gave me a bladder infection, apparently a common side effect. So it’s possible that xanthan thickens your wife’s urine

  19. I have suffered for over 2 years with ‘something’ that is causing me to be miserable with explosive diarrhea, cramping and just a terrible time.
    I had a colonoscopy that revealed a type of colitis. However, I was shown to be negative with many tests prior to..parasite, gluten intolerance, etc. I gave up my sugarless gum but had no relief.
    I just finished a book by a favorite author and the character thought he was dying. He had all the tests and turns out it was a reaction to gluten-free products.
    How did you determine you had a reaction to xanthan gum? I never heard of this additive.
    Thank you.

    • By the way, I was negative on gluten intolerance tests too – they can actually only detect coeliac disease or wheat allergies. There is no medical test for what a lot of people have – hypersesitivity to gluten. You just have to cut it out and see if you feel better, and then, if you or those around you need further convincing, after a few weeks eat a little bit and see how you react.

      • Allergy tests for gluten are always accurate. I had a lot of allergy testing done over the last few years and nothing showed any gluten or gliadin intolerance. But then I did the 23andme genetic testing and holy cow! I got some amazing information and I am very intolerant to gluten and many other things I didn’t know even existed. Having this information and a doctor that knows how to interpret the information has been life changing for me. I had no idea about the Xgum and am now beginning to think that is why I am not feeling better. I’m better since going gluten free, but not better. Confusing, I know, but too much to explain. My daughter works at a bakery where they make many gluten free products that I have been eating for several months and I still feel like crud! They use Xgum in almost everything gluten free! So excited to find this article and comments. I have read all of them to this point to learn from regular people, so thank you everyone!

        • First sentence I meant to say AREN’T always accurate! So sorry for the typo! Allergy tests/intolerance tests AREN’T always accurate!! Mine weren’t!

  20. Hi, I’m intolerant to xantham gum, I identified this pretty quickly after realising that I was intolerant to gluten. The only thing you can do is read the labels on absolutely everything, and know the number (E415). I am very alarmed at how the use of xantham gum is spreading all the time. It started out with vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, and sauces, spread to cough medicines, a prescription antibiotic (please trust us to just shake the bottle instead of glooping everything!), toothpaste, lipstick (usually difficult to find ingredients), yoghurts, virtually all Danone products, coconut milk and my most recent “spotted just in time” moment – salami! I would be interested in hearing of any other bizarre uses. The manufacturers of xantham gum (who are they?) are clearly very adept at thinking up new applications and persuading the food and pharmaceutical industries that gloopy food is what people want, or that by adding xantham gum they can water down the product but still have it the same consistency. It’s the spread to the pharmaceuticals industry that I find particularly worrying – what is the best way to raise awareness of this?

      • As far as I’m aware it is always called either xantham gum or E415. When I first went gf I just cut all the gluten containing things from my diet, and didn’t buy special gf products – I live in France and at that time there was very little available here, and very expensive. On a trip to England I stocked up with lots of gf treats – biscuits, cakes, breads etc. I thought that I’d been accidentally “glutened” on my trip, but on returning home things didn’t clear up, so I started to examine all the labels of the things I’d been eating and xantham gum stood out as the one unfamiliar thing. I cut it out completely for a week, and felt completely better, and then did a “test”, eating some gluten free cakes and biscuits and even a spoonful of mayonnaise. I had all the proof I needed, but unfortunately now need to shop with a magnifying glass to read the food labels, and ask friends please not to buy something gf especially for me, as it’s bound to have xantham gum in it. If you think you have some unidentified food intolerances, keep a full food journal of everything you eat and drink for a few weeks, and any symptoms that you feel, it can really help to identify the culprits. By doing this I realised that I am also intolerant to aspartame (I always knew I hated diet drinks – learn to trust your instincts – but this aspartame was in a cough medicine) and that in France tinned lentils are contaminated with gluten. Good luck. What was the book incidentally?

        • Thank you!
          Unfortunately it will be a few months before my,insurance covers allergy testing.
          I have a friend who claims gluten intolerant but buys gluten free products.
          I am going to share.
          Janet Evanovich, fiction, TRICKY TWENTY TWO
          I willing to try anything to get back to normal.

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