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The Food Additive You Do Want

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Q: When Is A Fiber Not A Fiber?

A: when it’s a resistant starch. What’s it resistant to? Digestion. So, it functions as though a fiber, and by some systems, may get classified as such.

It’s a little like how sucralose is technically a sugar, but the body processes it like a fiber (but beware, because the sweetness of this disaccharide alone can trigger an insulin response anyway—dose dependent)

There may be other problems too:

But today’s not about sucralose, it’s about…

Guar gum’s surprising dietary role

You may have noticed “guar gum” on the list of ingredients of all kinds of things from baked goods to dairy products to condiments to confectionary and more.

It’s also used in cosmetics and explosives, but let’s not focus on that.

It’s used in food products as…

  • a bulking agent
  • a thickener
  • a stabilizer

Our attention was caught by a new study, that found:

Resistant starch intake facilitates weight loss in humans by reshaping the gut microbiota

Often people think of “fiber helps weight loss” as “well yes, if you are bulking out your food with sawdust, you will eat less”, but it’s not that.

There’s an actual physiological process going on here!

We can’t digest it, but our gut microbiota can and will ferment it. See also:

Fiber against pounds: Resistant starch found to support weight loss

Beyond weight loss

Not everyone wants to lose weight, and even where weight loss is a goal, it’s usually not the only goal. As it turns out, adding guar gum into our diet does more things too:

Resistant starch supplement found to reduce liver triglycerides in people with fatty liver disease

(specifically, this was about NAFLD, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease)

Digging a little, it seems the benefits don’t stop there either:

Diet high in guar gum fiber limits inflammation and delays multiple sclerosis symptoms

(this one was a rodent study, but still, it’s promising and it’s consistent with what one would expect based on what else we know about its function in diet)

Should we just eat foods with guar gum in as an additive?

That depends on what they are, but watch out for the other additives if you do!

You can just buy guar gum by itself, by the way (here’s an example product on Amazon).

It’s doubtlessly no fun to take as a supplement (we haven’t tried this one), but it can be baked into bread, if baking’s your thing, or just used as a thickener in recipes where ordinarily you might use cornstarch or something else.

Can I get similar benefits from other foods?

The relevant quality is also present in resistant starches in general, so you might want to check out these foods, for example:

9 Foods That Are High in Resistant Starch

You can also check out ways to increase your fiber intake in general:

Level-Up Your Fiber Intake! (Without Difficulty Or Discomfort)


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