Guar Gum

What is guar gum?

Guar gum or guaran is a soluble fiber extracted from Indian cluster bean (Cyamopsis tetragonolobus) [1]. It is an indigestible carbohydrate, a polysaccharide with high molecular weight made of galactose and mannose (a galactomannan). Guar gum is a highly soluble and highly viscous fiber [3]. In the human large intestine, it is fermented by intestinal bacteria to gases and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which can be absorbed and can provide 3-3.5 Calories per gram [2,27].

Guar Gum as a Food Additive

Guar gum is used as a spice or thickener in salad dressings, ice creams, frozen meats and other foods. It is also used as a binding agent in tablets.

Guar Gum Supplements: Possible Benefits

Guar gum tablets and capsules are available over-the-counter (OTC).

Guar gum added to carbohydrate meals reduced fasting blood glucose levels for about 10 mmol/L [10] and glucose and insulin spikes after meals in healthy persons and diabetics type 2 [1,16,17,18].

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE about guar gum supplements in treating cholestasis in pregnancy [9] and high blood pressure [1,9]. In clinical trials lasting from 6 to 50 weeks, in individuals with increased blood cholesterol levels, guar gum (15-30 g/day) has lowered the total and LDL cholesterol for up to 20% (but did not affect triglycerides and HDL cholesterol) [1,7,10,11,12,13,18]. In some studies, the beneficial effect have persisted only for few months [12,14,15].

Several clinical trials have shown NO EFFECT of guar gum on weight loss [1,4,5].

Safety: Toxicity, Side Effects

Guar gum is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [21], and has an “ADI not specified” (the highest safety category) by JECFA [3].

Ingestion of large amounts of guar gum may cause abdominal bloating, pain or cramps, excessive gas (flatulence), loose stools, diarrhea, or esophageal or small bowel obstruction [26]. Guar gum may reduce the absorption of a glucose-lowering drug metformin and glyburide and antibiotic penicillin V [1].

Pregnancy. Not enough studies have been done to evaluate the safety of guar gum supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding [26].

Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum (PHGG)

Partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG) is a natural guar gum with low viscosity, produced from guar gum [23]. PHGG may be used as an added fiber in ready-to-eat cereals, biscuits, breads, ice creams, yogurts, beverages and other foods and in fiber supplements.

  • Partially hydrolyzed guar gum may be help relieve abdominal pain in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) [7,8].
  • In one clinical trial in children 8-16 years old, PHGG helped to relieve functional abdominal pain (no known cause) [6].
  • In some human trials, PHGG has reduced LDL cholesterol levels.
  • PHGG added to the rehydration solution, in children with acute diarrhea [20] and in chronic diarrhea [22].
  • PHGG may help relieve constipation in children [24].

PHGG side effects may include mild abdominal bloating, flatulence, nausea or diarrhea. No toxicity of PHGG has been found [8].

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is guar gum gluten-free?

Yes.

2. What is the difference between guar and xanthan gum?

Guar gum is a natural gum extracted from cluster bean, while xanthan gum is an artificial gum.

Related Nutrients

  1. Guar gum  Drugs.com
  2. Guar gum NutritionData; and data from the producers
  3. Guar gum  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  4. Wanders AJ et al, 2011, Effects of dietary fibre on subjective appetite, energy intake and body weight: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials  PubMed
  5. Pittler MH et al, 2004, Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  6. Romano C et al, 2013, Partially hydrolyzed guar gum in pediatric functional abdominal pain  PubMed Central
  7. Slavin J, 2013, Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits  PubMed Central
  8. Parisi GC, 2002, High-fiber diet supplementation in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): a multicenter, randomized, open trial comparison between wheat bran diet and partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG)  PubMed
  9. Gurung V et al, 2013, Interventions for treating cholestasis in pregnancy  Cochrane Summaries
  10. Lalor BC et al, 1990, Placebo-controlled trial of the effects of guar gum and metformin on fasting blood glucose and serum lipids in obese, type 2 diabetic patients  PubMed
  11. Toumilehto J et al, 1988, Long term treatment of severe hypercholesterolaemia with guar gum  PubMed
  12. Aro A et al, 1984, Effects of guar gum in male subjects with hypercholesterolemia  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  13. Vuorinen-Makola H et al, 1992, Guar gum in insulin-dependent diabetes: effects on glycemic control and serum lipoproteins   The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  14. Mclvor ME et al, 1986, Long-term effects of guar gum on blood lipids  PubMed
  15. Superko HR et al, 1988, Effects of solid and liquid guar gum on plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in moderate hypercholesterolemia  PubMed
  16. Chuang LM et al, 1002, Therapeutic effect of guar gum in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus  PubMed
  17. Gatti E et al, 1984, Effects of Guar-enriched pasta in the treatment of diabetes and hyperlipidemia  PubMed
  18. Groop PH et al, 1993, Long term effects of guar gum in subjects with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  19. Cicero AF et al, 2007, Different effect of psyllium and guar dietary supplementation on blood pressure control in hypertensive overweight patients: a six-month, randomized clinical trial  PubMed
  20. Alam NH et al, 2000, Partially hydrolyzed guar gum-supplemented oral rehydration solution in the treatment of acute diarrhea in children  PubMed
  21. DIRECT FOOD SUBSTANCES AFFIRMED AS GENERALLY RECOGNIZED AS SAFE [21CFR184.1339]  US Food and Drug Administration
  22. Alam N et al, 2005, Partially hydrolysed guar gum supplemented comminuted chicken diet in persistent diarrhoea: a randomised controlled trial  PubMed Central
  23. Yoon SJ et al, 2007, Chemical and Physical Properties, Safety and Application of Partially Hydrolized Guar Gum as Dietary Fiber  PubMed Central
  24. Üstündag G et al, 2010, Can partially hydrolyzed guar gum be an alternative to lactulose in treatment of childhood constipation?  PubMed
  25. Guar gum uses  WebMD
  26. Guar gum side effects  WEbMD
  27. Titgemeyer EC et al, 1991, Fermentabilty of various fiber sources by human fecal bacteria in vitro  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

4 Responses to "Guar Gum"

  1. Deep says:

    What is the main difference between Guar gum and Partially hydrolysed guar gum?
    In Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Partially hydrolysed guar gum is not mentioned, shall we call it as Guar gum?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Deep, it depends where do you intend to use these terms, but the difference is that partially hydrolysed guar gum is partially broken down to its components, so it is technically not same anymore. It’s like when starch is digested — somewhere half-through the digestion process you would have a mixture of starch, maltotriose, maltose and glucose, which are all composed of glucose, but they are, obviously, not the same so they are called differently.

      Partial hydrolyzation is an artificial process similar to that during natural digestion. Partially hydrolysed whey (protein) is available, for example — it is a mixture of the whole whey protein and its components – amino acids…

      • Mustafa Atasoy says:

        Jan, what is the “functional” difference in health-related use, then? We can find guar gum at a whole price ( very low cost) , though not very easy or practical to swallow 😉 As a prebiotic, is there any difference in effect?

        • Jan Modric says:

          Mustafa, guar gum probably has some prebiotic effect, which means, it stimulates the growth of the beneficial intestinal bacteria, but this effect is obviously not important enough to be currently included in a list of prebiotics composed by certain authors. Currently, only the following nutrients are accepted as prebiotics: fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides, inulin, lactulose and resistant starches.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *