Xanthan Gum- Is This Food Additive Healthy or Not?
Xanthan gum is a sugar-like compound that is formed after the fermentation of simple sugars under the influence of a special kind of bacteria. Due to its thickening and stabilizing properties, Xanthan gum is used in different types of food products, industrial products, and personal care products.
That apart, it is also used for treating dry eyes, diabetes, constipation, and some other similar health issues. Although, there is no hard evidence to support its uses still industries are using it successfully.
How Xanthan gum is prepared?
Xanthan Gum is prepared by the fermentation of sucrose and glucose. When the bacteria inoculate into a sterile aqueous solution of dipotassium phosphate, a source of nitrogen, carbs, and some trace elements then a polysaccharide is prepared that we call Xanthan gum.
In simple words, Xanthomonas campestris bacteria ferments any mixture or element that contains sucrose and glucose to produce a coagulated liquid that is later separated from the rest of the fluid, pressed, dried, and ground into a powder form.
Uses of Xanthan gum:
Let’s check out some important uses of Xanthan gum
1) In the Food industry
Xanthan gum provides a wide range of benefits to the food industry, it is considered one of the most useful compounds for the production and maintenance of foodstuffs. It helps in improving the texture, flavor, appearance, and shelf life of different foodstuffs.
It also helps in stabilizing and maintaining different temperatures and pH levels of foodstuff. It also provides elasticity and fluffiness to make gluten-free food items. Following are some food common products that contain Xanthan gum:-
- Bakery items
- Gluten-free food items
- Ice creams and low-fat food items
2) Industrial products
Xanthan gum powder has a unique property that allows the product to withstand different temperatures and pH levels. It also provides thickness to the liquid along with clinging abilities to surfaces while maintaining a good flow. Following are some industrial products that contain Xanthan gum:-
- Wallpaper glue and other types of Adhesives
- Wall paint
- Toilet bowls cleaners
- Fungicides and insecticides
3) Personal Care
Xanthan gum allows the solid particles to suspend in the semi-liquids or liquid items. Hence, just like other categories, Xanthan gum is an important element used in personal care products. It helps in allowing the product to remain thick and easy to flow out of the containers. Following are some personal care products that contain Xanthan gums:-
- Body Lotions
- Hair Shampoos
- Hair conditioners
Xanthan gum is also effective in treating constipation, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels in diabetic people & a saliva substitute for dry mouth.
Side effects of Xanthan gum
Xanthan gum can lead to an upset stomach. According to some recent studies, large doses of Xanthan gum can increase the frequency of stools. Large doses of Xanthan gum can increase the frequency of bowel moments, increase stool output, increase gastric issues, etc.
In a nutshell, if consumed in larger amounts, Xanthan gum can give you a laxative effect. If the amount consumed is less than 15 grams then there is less possibility of occurrence of any kind of side effects.
People who get exposed to the powder form of Xanthan gum can develop flu-like symptoms, nose irritation, and throat irritation, and lung problems in some extreme cases.
- Xanthan gum should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women. There is very little data available about the use of Xanthan gums during pregnancy. So, it is better to take precautions rather than running for the cure and risking your health.
- This bulk-forming laxative can be harmful in some situations. You should avoid consuming Xanthan gum if you are having vomiting, Nausea, appendicitis, fecal impaction, blockage of the intestine then you should avoid taking Xanthan gums in any form.
- You should avoid taking any Xanthan gum-based product if you recently had surgery or you are going to get operated on within two weeks. Xanthan gums lower the blood sugar level & it may also interfere with your blood sugar that can lead to a serious cause of concern.
- Also, FDA has warned against giving products containing Xanthan gum to premature infants. It can lead to a serious digestive problem known as necrotizing enterocolitis.
Is Xanthan gum bad for you?
Well, it depends upon the amount of Xanthan gum you are taking per day. According to studies, a person should not consume more than 15 grams of Xanthan gum. It is present in most of the things that we use in our daily life. So it becomes difficult for us to monitor the amount of Xanthan gum we are consuming. From toothpaste to body lotions, from cakes to ice creams, it is present everywhere. If the consumable is packed then it means that it must be containing some significant amount of Xanthan gum.
Till yet, there aren’t any case studies available saying that Xanthan gum can cause major harm. There are cases of intestinal discomfort such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea. This item has recently come out in the mainstream so we still don’t know much about it other than it is a great thing to prepare gluten-free items.
Xanthan gum is derived from corn and many people are allergic to corn or items prepared from corn. So, if you are one of them then avoid using Xanthan as you might be having unknown reactions. Although it is also derived from wheat and soy it is majorly prepared from corn. If you are not sure about Xanthan gum or simply minimize its usage then you can use Guar gum as a substitute. It is very difficult to eliminate Xanthan gum from every type of consumable but still we can reduce the amount.
Xanthan gum powder is an item that is present in almost every other product that we use in our daily life. It doesn’t have any major side effects if consumed in a moderate quantity. To limit its consumption, we should try to minimize its usage in self-made products such as food items that we can prepare at our home.