Liquid Thickener Linked to Lower Blood Sugar After Eating

We’re always reading about blood sugar news to keep an eye out for things we think might interest our customers. New research out of Japan has linked a liquid xanthan gum-based thickener to lower blood sugar after eating.

Liquid xanthan gum is added to many foods, including drinks to lower choking risks and make them thicker. In the study, it appeared to increase insulin response, improve the metabolism of fat and aid the gut biome. It lowered post-meal blood sugar spikes.

Xanthan gum is a viscous soluble fiber that forms a non-diffusible aqueous layer that affects the rate of diffusion of nutrients into the intestinal lumen… and inhibits nutrient uptake by prolonging absorption time,” the study states. Meaning it slows down digestion. The study went on to say that the reasons it impacted the gut biome are not yet fully understood. However, it has long been known that fiber aids the gut.

The research was performed in rats. So, even though the results were “significant,” it’s not definite that the results would carry over to a human population.

Not only did the Xanthan gum prevent spikes, but it also changed the gut composition of the rats. They had more beneficial bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids that protect the cells responsible for secreting insulin. It might be that the fiber slows initial spikes and then adds the gut to prevent problems in the future. However, more research is needed to see if that’s true.  

Xanthan gum comes up a lot in our low-carb baking recipes. It works well as a binding ingredient, is especially helpful when baking low-carb bread and takes on the role of gluten. In baking, or cooking in general, it usually appears as a powder. With this new research, we would be curious to know if the same blood sugar benefits are seen with the powder form as the liquid. Cookies will never lower your blood sugar, but knowing a recipe contains the gum and how it impacts you might make you more apt to pick one recipe over another.

If the secret is consuming it in liquid form, there are recipes, like this delicious spinach, strawberry and kiwi, that include xanthan gum as a thickener. The gum was included only to thicken the drink. However, it may have the added benefit of adding blood sugar. The drink itself has nine grams of net carbs. There’s also a low-carb peanut butter cup drink on the list that uses it as a thickener.

What we think is most interesting about this research is that it yet again disproves the silly advice “don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce.” It’s essential to read labels and be comfortable with the ingredients in your food. And nutrient-rich, fresh foods have huge health benefits. But not all man-made ingredients are dangerous. Sometimes food science has a win. Xanthan gum may be one form of fiber you should be adding more of to your diet!  

Banner image: Antonio Janeski via Unsplash

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