Are These Toxic Food Additives Derailing Your Gluten Free Diet?
In this episode of the Gluten Free Warrior Podcast, I have Mira Dessy, The Ingredient Guru, on the show to discuss how hidden toxic food additives and ingredients can sabotage your gluten free diet . We discuss common gums and hidden sugar additives and why you should look to avoid many of them.
Can Food Gums Damage the Gut?
Gums are commonly used food additives that are used to increase the “stickiness” that gluten typically gives to foods. They can be used as thickening agents as well, and are common ingredients in processed foods like, mayo, salad dressings, yogurt, milks, soups, ice cream, and sauces. These gums are also found in non edible items like toothpaste and lotions. In small amounts, they might not be a big problem, but when you gravitate toward a diet where gums are present in the bulk of what you are eating, they can become disruptive to the gut for two major reasons.
- Many gums draw water into the gut, and…
- Many gums are difficult to digest (especially in those with gut damage already). Symptoms to look out for include – diarrhea, bloating, cramping, stomach pain, runny nose, sinus congestion, and in some cases severe body pain and hives. Common gums include:
- Carrageenan Gum – It is recommended that you avoid this seaweed derived gum, as multiple research studies show that this common food additive can create GI inflammation. It has the highest potential for harm. It is most commonly found in non-dairy milk (almond and coconut). It is also found in toothpastes, which is safe to use if not ingested.
- Agar – Like carrageenan, this compound is derived from seawood. It can pull water into the gut, expanding it. It is used as a weight loss agent in some cultures. If taken without adequate fluids, esophageal and bowel obstruction are possible.
- Tara Gum – This is derived from the seed of a legume (Tara tree) through bacterial fermentation. This gum was used to replace most of the healthy fat in Breyers ice cream. It is relatively new and has not been tested for safety in humans.
- Gellan Gum – This is similar to Xanthum Gum, which is produced by bacterial fermantation. There is limited data on its safety, but avoid if you have a sensitive gut.
- Xantham Gum – This is a byproduct of the bacteria Xanthomonas Camestris. The problem with this gum is that it is produced by the bacterial fermentation of corn, wheat, and other grain based sugars. Many with gluten issues also have issues with this gum, and I highly recommend avoiding it, if you are following the TRUE gluten free diet.
- Guar Gum – This is derived from the guar bean, this gum can be a cause of GI symptoms. If you are going gluten free and have persistent GI issues, you might want to check your diet for this ingredient.
- Locust Bean Gum – As it’s name implies, this gum is bean derived (carob). If you have persistent gut issues while on the gluten free diet, you might want to check for this gum. Though no known toxicity in humans has been identified, like many bean based foods, it can be hard to digest. Especially in those trying to recover from years of GI damage caused by gluten.
- Fenugreek Gum – It is extracted from the seeds of the fenugreek plant (legume). It is not recognized as safe by the FDA, and toxic effects are unknown. It can be fermented by beneficial intestinal bacteria to gases. Hypoglycemia, uterine contractions, and blood thinning can be side effects of its use. Those with a soy or legume allergy should avoid using it.
- Karaya Gum – This gum is derived from the sap of a tree from India. It is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, with no known toxic effects. However, allergic reactions are possible. If it is not taken with enough water, it can cause bowel obstruction. If taken in excess, it can cause diarrhea.
- Konjac Gum (Glucomannan) – It is extracted from a tuber of Amorphophallus. It should be taken with enough water to avoid choking, esophageal or bowel obstruction. Side effects include bloating, diarrhea, and excessive gas. Konjac gum is commonly used in low carb noodles, such as shirataki noodles. It is not recognized as safe by the FDA.
- Acacia or Arabic Gum – This gum food additive is derived from the sap of the acacia tree. No known toxicity effect in humans has been reported, and of all the gums, this one is gets my vote for use in small amounts. It is actually a prebiotic gum that can help feed the healthy bacteria living in your GI tract.
Syrups and fruit juice concentrates are common food additive ingredients that manufacturers use to hide sugar. Because these are commonly viewed as “natural”, they are commonly confused as healthy ingredients. Some of these are GMO based and grown with pesticides that can disrupt gut function. Examples include –
- “sweetened with fruit juice concentrate”
- rice syrup
- natural fruit juice
- malt syrup
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
- Crystalline fructose
- carob syrup
- Barley malt or barley sugar
- Beet sugar
- Date sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Evaporate cane juice
- Muscovado sugar
- Cane sugar
- Sorghum syrup
- Turbinado sugar
- Invert sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Aspartame – also know as Nutrasweet. This is the common sweetener in the blue packet, known to cause nerve damage. It is also linked to migraine headaches.
- Sucralose – Often times referred to as Splenda is the sweetener often found in the little yellow packets. This sugar substitute is linked to allergic skin rashes, headaches, and GI problems. This artificial compound contains the halide, chlorine. Chlorine in excess interferes with iodine absorption in your thyroid gland and can contribute to the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Acesulfame – Aside from processed food, this toxic food additive (sweetener) is commonly found in tooth paste, chewing gum, and lipsticks. One of the ingredients in this product is methylene chloride – a known carcinogen. This chemical can also cause liver and kidney damage.
- Saccharin – Sometimes referred to as Sweet N Low, this sweetener is found in the little pink packets on most restaurant tables. 700 times sweeter than sugar, it has been linked to headaches, breathing problems, elevations in insulin, and cancer.
The Following Diagram Will be Helpful in Trying to Navigate Safe Vs. Toxic Sweeteners:
Keep in mind that small quantities mean occasional to rare use. NOT DAILY USE 🙂
Learn More About Food Ingredients & Labels
Get more information on how to navigate food labels, food additives, and other food ingredients at Mira’s website here <<< Make sure you grab her free download on reading food labels.
Always looking out for you,
Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior
…and if you have had bad experience with any of these ingredients, don’t be shy. Share your story below…