One of the ingredients that are added to make a gluten-free cake is Xanthan gum. This may be an ingredient you most probably have encountered before and heard of from various recipes. But do you actually know what this is?
What is Xanthan Gum?
The discovery of Xanthan gum dates back in the early years of 1960. Researchers and the US Department of Agriculture were attempting to make a new food that can replace cornstarch. And voila! They discovered this fermented sugar powder called Xanthan Gum. This has been a very good all-around discovery substance that can be used in many things; therefore, xanthan gum is an all-around additive that is good for the body and good for your keto lifestyle.
Xanthan gum is a food additive that is used to thicken, stabilize, and emulsify foods, cosmetics, and other products that prevent its composition from separating. This additive is a polysaccharide, the chemical term used that is composed of complex carbohydrates that give humans the energy, acts as a dietary fiber and is glucose stored in the liver and muscles. The Food and Drug Administration or FDA, which is responsible for protecting and ensuring the safety of the public’s health from food, cosmetics, and other products, has approved the use of this additive as a direct addition to food for human consumption.
Where is it sourced and how does it work?
The additive is sourced from cruciferous plants like cabbage, cauliflower and other plants to get the bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris, which are bacteria causing plants to decay its leaves and produce discoloration. After the collection of these bacteria they undergo a Pure Culture Fermentation process, where their fermentation performance is observed and applied with lactic acids to the liquid extracted from the bacteria before fermentation process begins, and then it gets purified with isopropyl alcohol, dried and turned into powder. The powder is then added to a liquid to create a stable solution that makes it a thickening, stabilizing, and emulsifier agent for numerous food and non-food products.
Uses of Xanthan Gum
Xanthan Gum has many usages, because of its quality it can be used for food and non-food products in different industries. Highlighting the two main qualities of the gum:
- Thickening Agent: being added to products to make them thick.
- Emulsifying Agent: added to products to keep them intact.
1. Food Products
It helps enhance the condition of the food as it improves the consistency, lengthens the shelf life, adds better texture, support the food in acidity and temperature related issues. Example of products where Xanthan Gum is added are bakery products and ice creams.
2. Personal Care Products
It gives the product versatility to withstand conditions involving water; as it holds water and doesn’t break from water entering cracks found in the product making it durable, lengthen shelf life and the overall stability of the product as it prevents oil separation in formulas and suspends particles. Example products are Shampoo, Toothpaste, and Lotions.
3. Industrial Products
It provides high-intensity cohesion to many industrial products because their substances are heavy and hard which requires withstanding different and extreme temperatures and levels of acidity. Examples of products applied with Xanthan gum are paints, fluids used in oil drilling, insecticides, and many more.
Xanthan Gum for Keto recipes
The use of Xanthan gum can help you in preparing keto-friendly recipes as it thickens, binds, and emulsify food without having to add additional carbs or calories to your meal. Since it holds particles and thickens liquids this helps fats, spices, and other ingredients to be evenly distributed throughout the prepared keto food, or drink, like salad dressings, puddings, weight loss shakes, pizza, keto dessert recipe food, and so on.
It is also approved by the FDA and is regarded as safe to use and consume. Although this gum is a soluble fiber as these carbs do not break down in digestion. What it does is it passes through the digestive system, absorbs water and transform into a substance that slows digestion. This does not provide any calories or nutrients to the body.
Health Benefits and Risks
Xanthan gum has a fair share of health benefits and health risks. It is recommended that up to fifteen (15) grams of it can be taken per day. However, different people and different situations take place as they react differently to substances. Let’s look at how Xanthan gum affects us:
1. Act as a Laxative
Because it helps to bind water efficiently causing it to moisturize the intestine, it supports gastrointestinal functions, and aids passing stools.
2. Lowers Blood Sugar
It transforms fluids from the stomach and small intestine to a gel-like substance. This then captures sugar entering the bloodstream, reducing the risk of blood sugar spikes causing blood vessels to harden and narrow.
3. Helps with Dysphagia
Dysphagia is the difficulty in swallowing to move the food from the mouth to the stomach because of dryness. It helps in a way that it thickens saliva and attracts or binds water. This then makes it wet as it moves from the mouth to the throat to the stomach reducing the risk of being choked with food.
4. Substitute for Gluten content
Used for gluten-free food to thicken the food and moist the food. It then enhances its properties as an alternative to gluten made foods causing stomach pain and other pain-related symptoms.
1. Skin Irritations and Allergies
Extremely rare occasions, but due to contents from Xanthan gum from its protein fragments, a reaction to these proteins can trigger allergic reactions from people with a history of allergy.
2. Intestinal Bloating
Due to a buildup of gas in the gastrointestinal tract.
Because the gum binds moisture in the digestive tract, it can aggravate diarrhea.
With the use of Xanthan gum, it allows us to look for alternatives from gluten-rich food like bread and make gluten-free baked products without the addition of carbohydrates that will put us out our keto diet, remembering keto diet is high fat and a low carb eating plan. Therefore, xanthan gum is an all-around additive that is good for the body and good for your keto lifestyle.