Xanthan Gum is Not Calorie Neutral and Affects Gut Microbiota

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    What is xantham gum?

    In this video, Roger Seheult, MD of MedCram discusses the additive of xantham gum and why it may not be calorie neutral. It may be adding calories that are not accounted for on the package label.  Furthermore, it may have some effect on the gut microbiome. Xantham gum is a food additive that was approved in 1968. It is primarily used to thicken food and is often found in gluten-free food. It has always been believed that as xantham gum is a polysaccharide, it is not able to be broken down in the digestive tract and should not contribute to any calories.

    The microbiome in your gut

    However, a new study from Nature has flipped this premise upside down. It has been found there are bacteria in the gut of humans that can break down the xantham gum into short-chain fatty acids which can be a source of calories. The research shows not everyone in the world has these bacteria. Individuals with more western diets and who eat more processed food and hence more xantham gum are more likely to have these bacteria in their gut microbiome.  

    No one is sure what this means at present as more research needs to be done. However, it may be safe to say that the less processed a food is, the more benefit it may have to us.



    Mechanistic insights into consumption of the food additive xanthan gum by the human gut microbiota (Nature Microbiology) | https://www.nature.com/articles/s4156…

    Chemical and Physical Properties of Xanthan Gum in Cooking (Science of Cooking) | https://www.scienceofcooking.com/chem…

    Untangling the Genetic Basis of Fibrolytic Specialization by Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae in Diverse Gut Communities (MDPI) | https://www.mdpi.com/1424-2818/5/3/62…

    Study helps explain how xanthan gum, a common food additive, is processed in the gut (Science Daily) | https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases…

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