Guar gum is a well-known fibre for its desirable properties that regulate the moisture content in stool that helps in constipation and diarrhoea. It is obtained from the guar beans. Due to its water absorption properties that swell into a gel, it is an ingredient in many food products such as yoghurt, puddings, ice creams, etc. Several of such products have been approved by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is mainly composed of soluble fibres with about 5% of proteins. Although there are several guar gum products in the market and suggested by health experts, the scientific evidence is controversial.
Health Benefits of Guar Gum
Digestive health: due to its soluble fibrous nature, it could have a positive impact on your digestive systems, regular bowel movement, prebiotics for maintaining gut microbiome, and irritable bowel syndromes.
Blood sugar: It also helps to reduce blood sugar levels by reducing sugar absorption.
Blood cholesterol: Soluble fibres such as guar gum are known to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) (4). This could be due to the binding of bile acids with soluble fibres and secreting the bile acid together with fibre in the stool. Hence, more bile acids are produced by the liver and decrease cholesterol (5).
Weight maintenance: This is achieved in several ways: soluble fibres reduce the appetite and thus reduce the food and calories intake.
Harmful or Insignificant Effects of Guar Gum on Weight Loss
Scientific reports on the effectiveness of guar gum on weight loss effects are highly debatable. Some of the studies have found positive impacts while severe others have been found to be not worth the risk of side effects. A meta-analysis of clinical trials consisting of 11 randomized trials suggested an insignificant difference in the weight loss between the subjects receiving guar gum and placebo (1). Furthermore, some patients have other side effects, such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and cramps. Hence such patients (n=11; 3%) opted to drop out from the trials. Therefore, the authors concluded that the side effects could outweigh the benefits. Consumption of guar gum in large amounts could also lead to oesophagal severe obstruction requiring medical expert intervention (2). Yet, in another study, weight loss based on semisolid meals with or without guar gum didn’t have any statistically significant difference.
The benefits of Guar Gum is well reported. Yet there is a lack of sufficient scientific evidence on a large scale clinical trials to ascertain its health benefits or its side effects. The reports also vary based on the studies and subjects. The bottom line would be to consume in limit and under the guidance of health professionals.