Chasing Down Xanthan Gum, what it is and what it does.

Xanthan Gum? What the heck is that, and why should you even care that it is in so many packaged foods.  I first started to really explore the side effects of Xanthan gum about a year ago when it seemed to be in everything and giving me an adverse reaction.

As a Celiac I have been living a gluten-free life for the last seven years. For brief history, the reaction I get shows up mostly on my skin with a severe rash and blistering. I don’t want to think about what it is silently doing to my intestines.  At first the change in lifestyle seemed prohibitive and I included many commercial gluten-free products in my daily food intake. Things have changed but I do still occasionally have things that are commercially made.

Changing my lifestyle as well as trying to eat a fairly whole food based diet, I seldom eat gluten-free baked goods, but hey who doesn’t enjoy a good donut or cookie or bread once in a while. I also regularly drink protein shakes after my work outs.

What I have been finding is that I am still getting some kind of reaction to commercially made gluten-free products.  I just don’t feel that great when I consume them…..well actually let me re-word that. I feel great when I consume them. They are delicious and I choose things I really like from quality bakeries or good quality protein shakes.  It is afterwards once I start to digest it that I suffer.

After reading about what other Celiacs are also sensitive to, besides gluten, I discovered that Xanthan gum was quite often an issue.  You don’t have to be Celiac to react to it though.

Well what the heck is Xanthan gum and what does it do. Why and how is it used and is it harmful to consume it?

This is the description I found on Wikipedia : Xanthan gum derives its name from the species of bacteria used during the fermentation process, Xanthomonas campestris. This is the same bacterium responsible for causing black rot to form on broccoli, cauliflower, and other leafy vegetables.  YUCK

To Keep it short, Xanthan gum is produced by the fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose.  It is fermented for about four days, dried and then milled to give a powder that is  soluble in water or brine.

Sounds awful to me but actually most studies show it is usually fine in most cases and actually may have some cancer preventing properties. and seems to be helpful for insulin levels…. BUT.  For some people particularly Celiacs, it may cause a variety of issues including digestive disturbances, bloating, gas, migraines and flu-like symptoms.

Xanthan gum is used as a stabilizer in many products and can be found in almost every product from toothpaste to protein drinks. Beauty products as well as food.  It doesn’t matter if the item is gluten-free or not.

There are a few Vegan Protein shake products that do not contain Xanthan gum. someone at a health food store told me to look for small companies that do smaller batches and I would have better luck finding a product without it as an ingredient. The best tasting one I have found so far is Progressive Brand Harmonized Vegan Protein powder   I am sure there are others out there but hard to find.

So what can you use instead if you choose to do some baking yourself or you want products that don’t  contain Xantham gum? There are several other things you can substitute and they are not artificially manufactured…real food that is healthy for you. Psyllium Fiber (Psyllum Husk powder) , Ground Flax, Chia Seeds, Gelatin, Agar Agar are a few that work well and have healthy side effects.

So now I am back to checking every label. There is Xanthan Gum in so many things and I find it makes such a difference for my Gut Health when I eliminate it, that I am willing to search.

If you are having issues with your Gut Health I highly recommend exploring the possibility that it might be a result of your Xanthan gum consumption.  

There are options out there including just eating really healthy whole food. As a follower of a Ketogenic way of eating and Intermittent Fasting I am always on a Quest to find foods that make me feel my absolute best.  The small amount of carbohydrates that I consume daily need to count in a positive way.

when I started looking for answers, I appreciated someone sharing the original thought with me that there could be something more than just the usual suspects involved.

Let me know if you find this useful.

In the future I will be sharing more of the things I have found to be helpful in gaining my best health.





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