Gum arabic, alternatively known as E414 or acacia gum, comes from the sap of acacia trees. Native to tropical regions of Australia and Africa, the acacia is a shrub-like tree that can grow up to 15 feet tall and has sharp thorns.
Chemically, acacia gum (scientific name – acacia senegal) is a combination of proteins and complex polysaccharides. On a molecular level, gum arabic is an interesting amalgamation of complex branches, trapping water in its folds for the use of the plant.
Nowadays, Sudan is responsible for up to 70-80 percent of the world’s production of the gum (but according to some experts, this figure is as low as 40 percent) and global supply chains within the soft drinks industry seem to depend on Sudan’s production more than ever.
It is used in numerous products, ranging from ink to ice cream and shoe polish. It is also used to produce a medium for applying balsams, essential oils, resins, camphor, and musk. Moreover, in herbal medicine, E414 is used to bind pills and lozenges and to stabilize emulsions.
Even in the ancient times, the Egyptians used it as a glue and as a pain-reliever base. Furthermore, among its many uses, this gum is used by the drug and food industries as an emulsifying agent due to the fact that it helps hold mixtures together when they commonly wouldn’t blend well.
More importantly, the gum is used as a pharmaceutical ingredient in medications for stomach or throat inflammation and as a film-forming agent in peel-off skin masks.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate dietary supplements. Nevertheless, FDA has approved E414 as an additive in drugs and foods. In addition, in 2014 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also approved it as an ingredient in products such as snack bars, breakfast cereals, and baked goods.
Health benefits of gum arabic
#1 High fiber content
This is an important source of dietary fiber, and it is frequently taken to increase fiber consumption and help alleviate constipation. E414 can be considered 95 percent soluble fiber, according to the latest evidence by nutritional specialists. A 1-tablespoon serving of the E414 powder has 6 grams of fiber. A diet high in fiber, especially soluble fiber, can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus. If you already have type 2 diabetes, eating soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and lower your blood sugar levels.
#2 Lowers LDL cholesterol
LDL stands for Low-Density Lipoproteins. Higher levels of LDL raise your risk of heart disease which is usually related to a process called atherosclerosis, a dangerous condition that develops when LDL cholesterol combines with other substances in the blood and turns into plaques that build up in your arteries. Human dietary intake studies have established that there is a reduction in blood cholesterol levels when above average amounts of acacia senegal (25 grams daily) are consumed.
#3 Teeth health
According to a 1991 study by the Division of Periodontics, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, researchers have concluded that chewing a gum made with acacia senegal was more beneficial in reducing the level of plaque for 7 days when compared with normal gum. Moreover, another study conducted in 1993 at King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK, has established that acacia gum has potent antibacterial properties that help control harmful bacteria in the mouth that cause gum disease.
#4 Weight loss
Getting to a healthy weight and staying there is essential to prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, osteoporosis and other severe conditions. A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates that aiming to eat 30 grams of dietary fiber daily can help you lose weight, even if you don’t increase the level of your physical exercise. Tip – when increasing the dietary fiber content of your diet, it is important to take it slow. Add just a few grams at a time to allow the intestinal tract to adjust; otherwise, bloating, abdominal cramps, gas, and constipation or diarrhea may result.
Acacia gum side effects
Consuming the supplement in large amounts can cause gas production, unpleasant feeling in the mouth, bloating, loose stools, mild nausea, and diarrhea. Different types of this gum can cause allergic reactions, including skin lesions and respiratory problems.
Studies regarding the efficacy and safety during pregnancy and lactation, and for children are incomplete.