Acacia gum, also known as gum arabic, is a dried exudation obtained from the stems and branches of natural strains of Acacia Senegal Willdenow.
This tree can grow up to 15 feet tall with sharp thorns.
In the present day, Sudan is the world′s largest producer, followed by many other African countries.
It is also known as E414.
Benefits & Uses of Gum Arabic
It readily dissolves in water to form solutions characterized by low viscosity.
In manufacturing, E414 is used as a pharmaceutical ingredient and a film-forming agent in peel-off skin masks or in drugs for stomach or throat inflammation.
Moreover, it has been shown to inhibit the growth of periodontal bacteria and the early deposition of plaque, and it is used topically for healing wounds.
The gum is mentioned often in ancient Egyptian inscriptions since they used it to coat the bandages of mummies and as a fixative for ink.
E414 is the material traditionally used for the encapsulation of food flavors. Also, it is stable in acidic environments, hence, it has widely been used as an emulsifier in beverages.
In addition, it is the primary component in traditional wine gums and is present at concentrations of about 50 percent.
This gum is a complex polysaccharide (made of many simple sugars) that is not digested in the small intestine, however, it is fermented in the colon by microflora. There, it acts as a prebiotic and has an excellent potential to improve or maintain a balanced intestinal microflora.
Supplementation with Acacia gum increases good bacterial strains, especially Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli bacteria, according to a June 2008 study that was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Also, when it is broken down by bacteria the result is:
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Reduces LDL Cholesterol
This gum was used effectively in a recent clinical study of LDL cholesterol reduction at a dose of 15 grams a day.
High LDL cholesterol is one of the main risk factors that can lead to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart attack, and peripheral artery disease.
Note – diet plays a pivotal role in managing LDL cholesterol levels. Foods rich in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol can increase LDL cholesterol. On the other hand, a diet rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Increases Fiber Intake
On average, adults in the United States consume on average 15g of dietary fiber a day, which is obviously not enough as a lack of dietary fiber may cause constipation.
On the contrary, high amounts of fiber in the diet are linked with a lower risk of diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and general degenerative disease.
Note – The Dietitians of Canada recommends adding dietary fiber slowly over time to avoid bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Good For Type 2 Diabetics
Gum Arabic is a soluble fiber, meaning that it disperses in water when the food is broken down.
People with type 2 diabetes can benefit from eating foods rich in soluble fiber, as it prevents instant spikes in blood glucose levels and it helps to slow the emptying of the stomach.
There is also evidence that soluble fiber stimulates a glucose-regulating hormone called GLP-1.
According to studies, increasing your intake of soluble fiber by 10 grams each day might lower your risk for diabetes mellitus by as much as 20%.
One 2008 study that was issued in the NCBI established that for each additional 15g of daily fiber eaten, study participants had a 5 percent decrease in belly fat over a 5-year period. Moreover, scientists established that for every 7g more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by 8 percent.
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Potassium & Calcium
This gum has a high percentage of potassium and calcium.
Potassium is the 3rd most abundant mineral in the body, and the benefits of this essential nutrient have been studied for decades. We need at least 4,700 mg of potassium a day, however, the average individuals only consume about 50 percent of that amount.
This mineral plays an important role in processes, such as – electrolyte balance, muscle contraction and growth, and nervous system function. Other roles include:
- helping with the cellular repair;
- homeostatic functions;
- helping the body to metabolize fats;
- aiding the body to break down proteins;
- controlling the acidity of the bloodstream.
Symptoms of low blood potassium levels include weakness and confusion.
It is the most abundant mineral in the body, with about 99 percent of the amount being found in the teeth and bones. To maintain constant concentrations of calcium in muscle, blood, and intercellular fluids, the human body uses bone tissue as a reservoir for calcium.
This mineral makes muscles contract, helps blood vessels contract and expand, helps glands secrete hormones, and helps send messages through the nervous system.
When you don’t get sufficient calcium, you increase your risk of developing conditions such as:
- calcium deficiency disease (hypocalcemia);
- an easy fracturing of the bones;
- weak and brittle nails;
- muscle cramps;
- numbness in the hands, feet, and face;
- muscle spasms;
- memory loss.
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Side Effects Of Acacia Gum (E414)
When consumed orally, it is not toxic. However, if you are allergic to dust, you may experience asthma attacks when you first start taking E414.
Inflammatory gut conditions may make you extra sensitive to E414 and can increase your risk of allergic reactions. Signs and symptoms include:
- hay fever-like symptoms, such as – itchy eyes (allergic conjunctivitis) or sneezing;
- itching or tingling in the mouth;
- abdominal pain;
- a raised, itchy red rash;
- swelling of the face, mouth, throat or other areas of the body;
- feeling sick (nausea);
- feeling lightheaded and dizzy;
- shortness of breath;
- difficulty swallowing.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Constipation is a common pregnancy complaint after consuming E414, however, it is less likely if you drink sufficient liquids. Also, there are no studies about the safety of this gum in pregnant or lactating women. Talk to your doctor before intaking acacia gum if you are pregnant or breastfeeding a baby.
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