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    Is Gellan Gum Bad For You?

    Is Gellan Gum Bad For You?

    gellan gum in food

    You’ve probably seen “gellan gum” listed in the ingredients section on food packaging. But what is gellan gum? And is gellan gum bad for you?

    Gellan Gum Introduction

    Gellan gum is a gelling agent and food additive used to thicken, stabilize, and emulsify foods, especially plant-based milk alternatives.
    It’s produced through fermentation by the bacteria Sphingomonas elodea and approved for use in foods by the FDA and food regulatory bodies in Europe. Gellan gum was discovered on a lily pad in Pennsylvania in the late 1970s.

    • Gellan gum is a food additive used as a gelling and stabilizing agent, especially in dairy alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk.
    • It’s made by fermenting sugar using the bacteria Sphingomonas elodea.
    • Gellan gum helps prevent separation of ingredients in beverages and gives a creamy texture.

    How is Gellan Gum Used in Food?

    Gellan gum has some useful properties that make it a valuable food additive:

    • Prevents separation: Keeps protein, vitamins, minerals, and flavors evenly mixed in. For example, it prevents cocoa powder from settling into the bottom of chocolate milk.
    • Controls texture: Gives a creamy, smooth mouthfeel and consistency.
    • Heat stability: Holds shape even when heated, so gellan gum prevents melting of gelled foods.

    You’ll find gellan gum in a wide variety of foods and beverages:

    • Non-dairy milk
    • Yogurts
    • Juices
    • Jams and fruit spreads
    • Desserts like puddings
    • Sauces, dressings
    • Plant-based meat alternatives
    • Candies like gummies

    Is Gellan Gum Bad For You? Safety and Side Effects

    The short answer is no. Based on ample research, Gellan gum is generally considered safe (GRAS) for consumption. Studies show that intake of high doses had no adverse effects in humans. And it’s not been found to be toxic, even in animal studies using huge doses.

    Health Benefits of Gellan Gum

    Aside from uses as a food additive, gellan gum has been studied for potential health benefits:

    May relieve constipation
    Some evidence shows gellan gum may have prebiotic effects. It can be a soluble fiber to add bulk and moisture to stool.
    This may help relieve constipation for some people. More studies are still needed though.

    Promotes growth of beneficial gut bacteria
    Early research suggests gellan gum boosts beneficial bifidobacteria levels in the intestines that support digestion.
    Again, larger and longer human trials are needed to confirm effects on gut health. But it’s a promising area to investigate.

    Potential Side Effects of Gellan Gum

    Most people don’t experience any negative effects from the tiny amounts of gellan gum used in foods.
    However, gellan gum may cause issues for those sensitive to fiber or prone to digestive upset.
    Potential side effects can include:

    • Bloating
    • Gas
    • Diarrhea
    • Slower digestion

    These effects seem more likely when getting gellan gum from supplements or consuming it in higher amounts. But people vary, so some may react even with small amounts found in processed foods.
    As with any food additive, keep an eye out for signs of sensitivity. But there’s no need to avoid all gellan gum completely if you feel fine eating foods containing it.

    gellan gum in dairy products

    Gellan Gum vs. Other Hydrocolloids

    Gellan gum belongs to a class of ingredients called hydrocolloids that help provide texture and stability within foods and other products.

    Some common hydrocolloids that work similarly to gellan gum include:

    Locust Bean Gum: Also called carob gum. Produced from carob seeds. Used to stabilize and thicken foods.
    Guar Gum: Derived from guar beans. Also used as a fiber supplement. Adds thickness in small quantities.
    Xanthan Gum: Created by fermenting sugar with a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris. Used in gluten-free cooking.
    Carrageenan: Extracted from red seaweed. Controversial due to potential inflammation issues.
    Arabic Gum: Made from sap of African acacia trees. Used in desserts and candies.

    So why use gellan gum instead of these other options?

    One reason is that it only takes a tiny amount of gellan gum to do the job. Typical usage is between 0.2 – 0.3%.
    Compare that to guar gum which needs to make up 1-2% of a recipe. This makes gellan gum more economical for food manufacturers.
    Gellan gum also has a high heat tolerance before it melts. And research indicates fewer potential digestive side effects compared to some alternatives.

    Should You Avoid Gellan Gum?

    For most people, there’s no particular reason to avoid the small amounts of gellan gum used in foods. It’s been shown to be safe, even in larger quantities than you’d typically consume.

    However, if you find you’re sensitive to stabilizers and emulsifiers, gellan gum may contribute to unpleasant symptoms.

    You can try eliminating it, along with other additives, as part of an elimination diet. Then reintroduce ingredients one at a time while tracking reactions.

    Outside of personal sensitivity, no need to worry about the gellan gum itself! But as with any additive, moderation is still a smart approach for overall health.

    Conclusion

    Gellan gum is generally a safe, useful additive that serves important functions like stabilization and texture enhancement in some foods. Side effects seem less common and severe compared to other emulsifiers.

    But some people may still experience digestive upset. Those with IBS or intolerances may want to avoid gellan gum.

    As with any additive, moderation is key. Limit intake of processed foods with ingredients like gellan gum, guar gum, carrageenan etc. whenever possible.

    So keep an eye out for new studies. But for now, gellan gum seems pretty safe compared to many other common food additives.

    Mondstar is a premier supplier of food additives, offering premium Gellan Gum solutions. Our high-quality Gellan Gum products cater to diverse food industry needs. Contact us to learn more about Gellan Gum and how they can enhance your food products.

    Related Posts:
    1. What does xanthan gum do?
    2. Is Monosodium Glutamate MSG Gluten-Free?

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