Supplements

What Is Guar Gum? | Uses & Side Effects

What Is Guar Gum?

Guar gum derives from the guar beam, which is a plant originally grown in Pakistan and India. Guar gum, also known as gellan gum, is a fibre with a myriad of uses and certain benefits for your body. Guar gum is manufactured in a similar way to other gums comprised of natural seeds. Its production involved milling the seeds of legumes or grains to create a powdered product.

Guar gum is high in fibre and low in nutrients and calories, so while it is not essential for your health or sporting performance, it has other virtues that benefit certain conditions and comes with many different uses.

Guar gum has the ability to absorb excess liquid in your bowels. This can affect the moisture content of your stool both by tackling diarrhoea and by softening faeces during constipation. It is also suggested that guar gum can lower the cholesterol and glucose levels that are absorbed in your intestines and stomach.

What Is Guar Gum Used For?

Guar gum is primarily known as an additive in processed foods and has been used as such since the 1950s as a thickener in manufactured food. Compared to corn starch, guar has eight times the thickening potency. Unlike some thickeners, guar holds up under freeze and thaw cycles exceptionally well. Its properties prevent ice crystals from forming and so is often used in soft ‘whippy’ style ice cream.

Guar gum, otherwise known as gellan gum, is used to stabilise and emulsify industrial products as well as foods. Foods it is commonly used in include ice cream, yoghurts, coconut and almond milk, soups and fibre supplements. In industrial products, guar gum is used as a thickener and binding agent, which you may find in tablets, lotions and creams.

Functional uses for guar gum come in some unexpected forms. It is used for a wide range of bowel conditions, including diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation. Further to this, guar gum has been linked to preventing the obesity by helping weight loss.

Benefits Of Guar Gum

As an aid in the fight against the aforementioned bowel problems, guar helps by absorbing large quantities in your digestive system. Guar gum increases viscosity in the gut, which causes a slower absorption rate of carbohydrates and stimulates bile production. As well as this, because of its high fibre content, it can be good for constipation and assist bowel movement, serving as a kind of laxative.

Guar gum, taken with small quantities of insoluble fibre can help to lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is known as the bad kind of cholesterol.

As a lifestyle supplement, many people supplement guar gum to help with weight loss. It is not a fat burner, per se, but rather because of its high carb content it is slowly digested and, due to its thickening nature, it creates the feeling of being full after consuming it. When used to thicken out meals, it can, therefore, increase satiety, meaning that you will feel less hungry and so eat less, resulting in weight loss in the longer term.

As a food additive, guar gum provides a very useful ability to keep fats and oils from separating in your recipes. It is also beneficial for blending creams and milk with water for a uniform thickness.

When making pizzas, bread, muffins and doughnuts, getting a baked good to hold together and maintain a bouncy texture without using gluten products can be difficult, and so guar gum is often found in gluten-free products as a binding agent in place of wheat flour.

gluten free buckwheat pizza recipe

Does Guar Gum Have Side Effects?

Guar gum, similar to xanthan gum, has its controversies, though it is broadly considered safe when taken by mouth with a minimum of eight ounces of water. Choking is advised as a common risk, along with potential blockages in your intestines. Ingesting guar gum with large quantities of water will, therefore, help to alleviate the risks of blockages and choking.

Common side effects of guar gum include bowel concerns such as diarrhoea, loose stools and gassiness.

Guar gum can lower your blood pressure, which can be hazardous for anyone who has pre-existing low blood pressure.

Diabetics will need to be particularly cautious due to guar gum’s ability to lower your blood sugar levels, which can result in hypoglycaemia.

It is suggested that not enough research into the effects of guar gum on pregnancy and infants has been carried out, and so pregnant women should avoid taking it or feeding guar gum to infants and young children.

 

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.


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