Guar gum (also called Guar flour or Guarano) is a water-soluble product, with a farinaceous consistency, extracted from the seeds of the guar plant (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba). It is also known as Guar flour and is particularly appreciated in the food industry where it is used as a thickening additive signed E412.
The product, rich in galactomannan, has interesting therapeutic properties and is present in numerous food supplements formulated both for intestinal regularity and to assist in the loss of body weight.
Although guar gum could cause side effects in certain individuals, it is considered a safe product, in compliance with the recommended dosage. The product can be found in pharmacies, herbalists and specialized retailers at an affordable price
What is Guar Gum?
Guar gum is a water-soluble substance obtained by grinding the endosperm contained in the seeds of Guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba). It is a herbaceous and annual species belonging to the Fabaceae family.
Although the plant is native to India and Pakistan, guarano crops are also found in China and the United States. The plant prefers direct exposure to sunlight, tolerates drought but is particularly sensitive to frost.
Guar is a leguminous plant that can reach 3 meters in height developing on a single stem characterized by basal ramifications. The oval and elongated leaves are covered with a thick hair and are arranged alternately.
While the inflorescences are tinged with a particular color ranging from white to bluish, gathering in clusters positioned in the armpit of the plant. The pods, during the development stage, are flat and thin. They can contain up to 12 seeds which, when ripe, take on a greyish-white hue.
The seeds are harvested between the end of October and the beginning of November. They undergo a drying process and are then peeled with the intention of separating the extra-embryonic cellular tissue from the external integuments. Then we proceed to the grinding.
At the end of this seed processing process, a water-soluble powder with an ivory-white color and gelling properties is obtained, known as Guar gum. Since it has a farinaceous consistency it is also called Guar flour.
In contact with water, this product can take on a solid or semi-solid consistency which has been used for centuries in the food sector. The presence of the thickening additive in industrial foods is reported in the list of ingredients with the wording E412.
The main constituent of Guar gum is galactomannan: a polysaccharide consisting of mannose and galactose in a 2:1 ratio.
In addition to performing a thickening function for foods, the product, thanks to its high viscosity, is able to modulate the absorption and digestion of lipids and proteins by the body.
This characteristic makes guar gum interesting from a therapeutic point of view. In fact, partially hydrolyzed Guar gum is particularly present both in food supplements aimed at the treatment of intestinal disorders and in adjuvant remedies for weight loss.
Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum: differences
Guar gum is often confused with Xanthan gum: a substance used as a food and cosmetic additive to produce gel with an aqueous consistency.
Although they have similar properties, the products are not extracted from the same plant species and are subjected to different extraction processes.
In fact, Xantana is obtained through a process of sugar fermentation carried out by the bacterial strain Xanthomonnas campestris.
Properties and composition of guar gum
The main chemical constituents of guar gum can be summarized as follows:
Guar is considered to be the naturally occurring polysaccharide with the highest index of water soluble polymers.
The gum is made from the seed of the Cyamopsis tetragonolobus plant. The germ of the Guar seed mainly contains protein substances while the endosperm has an important concentration of polysaccharides called galactomannans which contain units of mannose and galactose, in a 2:1 ratio.
Guarano has a high viscosity determined by the molecular weight of the galactomannans. This is why it must be used in concentrations not exceeding 1%. Otherwise it could interfere with the nutritional, chemical and sensory properties of the food in which Guar gum has been used.
The hydrolysed product increases the quantity of dietary fibers present in the food by regulating the functions of the gastrointestinal system.
For this reason it is a valid ally in the treatment of symptoms associated with irritable bowel which often manifests itself with constipation and diarrhea. Furthermore, thanks to its gelling properties, guar gum is able to effectively reduce LDL cholesterol and blood sugar.
The gelling action of the soluble fiber exerted by Guarano increases the sense of satiety by slowing down gastric emptying.
What is guar gum used for? All benefits
Promotes digestive system health
Being rich in fiber, guar gum can improve digestive function. It also acts as a prebiotic by affecting the growth of good bacteria and, at the same time, reducing the development of harmful bacteria present in the intestine.
Reduces blood sugar
Guar gum is used in herbal medicine to lower blood sugar levels. The product boasts a significant presence of soluble fiber suitable both for slowing down the absorption of sugars by the body and for restoring the correct glycemic rate present in the blood.
By administering a phytopreparation based on guar gum 4 times a day, for a total duration of 6 weeks, it is possible to obtain an effective reduction in blood sugar even in subjects suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, by integrating guar gum daily into the diet, postprandial glycemic peaks in healthy subjects can be kept under control.
Keeps cholesterol under control
The soluble fibers present in guarano are able to act effectively on low-intensity lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) by reducing them. Furthermore, fiber acts on the liver forcing it to use cholesterol in order to produce bile acids in greater quantities.
Through this therapeutic process it is possible to significantly reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood.
With the assumption of a herbal product containing 15 grams of guar gum, there is an effective reduction in bad cholesterol and a simultaneous increase in high-intensity lipoproteins (good cholesterol).
Remedy for hypertension
Scientific research demonstrates the effectiveness of guar gum in the treatment of hypertension.
A study reported in 2001 reveals how, following the administration of a herbal preparation based on Guar flour, it is possible to obtain a reduction in systolic blood pressure greater than 2 mm Hg.
This therapeutic effect is recorded within two hours of the end of a meal. Furthermore, on the basis of a 2007 study, it is possible to obtain a reduction in systolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients after two months of administration of 3.5 g of the drug, 3 times a day.
If you are interested in the topic, discover our in-depth study on hypertension.
Guar gum is an ingredient particularly present in herbal supplements with a laxative action. The remedy retains water in the intestines, softening the stool and facilitating evacuation.
It also promotes intestinal regularity by giving relief to constipation phenomena.
Thanks to the presence of soluble fibres, the product could alleviate the symptoms associated with some pathologies affecting the gastrointestinal tract, including Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
It works against diarrhea
Thanks to the administration of herbal products based on Guar gum, episodes of diarrhea can both be kept under control and the frequency of liquid stools reduced. Such phytopreparations are also suitable for the treatment of diarrhea in children.
Furthermore, it seems that the partially hydrolysed guar gum acts on the gastrointestinal transit by increasing the faecal excretion of nitrogen. Without producing effects not only on the normal absorption of amino acids, glucose and fats, but also on the correct hepatic, renal and haematological function.
Cholestasis and pruritus in pregnancy
Guar gum is able to reduce and prevent the sensation of itching in pregnant women affected by intrahepatic cholestasis, without interfering with the concentration of bile acid.
Therefore the remedy is considered a valid natural solution for the treatment of the symptoms associated with liver disease.
A remedy for irritable bowel
The oral and constant intake of Guarano-based phytopreparations could provide valid support in relieving both abdominal pain and constipation phenomena in people affected by irritable bowel syndrome.
This therapeutic action is attributable to the ability of partially hydrolysed Guar gum to bind water, making it particularly useful in restoring correct intestinal function.