Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum
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Today I am going to examine the benefits of a newly developed prebiotic fiber, one that will find its way into our new version of Provide Smoothie Mix.
Dietary fiber is defined as the edible parts of plants that cannot be digested. In nutritional profiles found on packed foods, fiber will be listed as a carbohydrate, but given that it is indigestible, fiber should not factor into how we judge the carbohydrate content of a food.
Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber
There are two types of fiber (soluble and insoluble), and most plants contain both forms, though the amounts vary from plant to plant. Both forms of fiber are necessary for good health, but they have somewhat different functions in the body. While soluble fiber helps us to absorb nutrients from food, by slowing down digestion, insoluble fiber draws water into the stool, adding bulk and helping the stool to move faster through the intestines.
We may define the primary difference as such: soluble fiber dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fibers include gums (e.g. guar, acacia) and pectins, and insoluble fibers include cellulose (e.g. bran), and hemicellulose. We find a high amount of soluble fiber in foods such as apples, barley, beans, citrus fruit, oats, peas, potatoes, and strawberries. Foods rich in insoluble fiber include cereals and whole grains, wheat bran, seeds, and the skins of fruits and vegetables.
One of the important advantages of soluble fibers is that they are easily fermented into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in the large bowel. Insoluble fibers do not perform this function, which is why soluble fibers function as prebiotics. (As we saw in last week’s newsletter on Lion’s Mane, SCFAs are essential to maintaining a healthy microbiome in the gut.) As well, soluble fibers work better at regulating cholesterol and blood sugar levels, than insoluble fibers. (Source)
Guar gum is a soluble fiber derived from the seed of the guar plant (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba). In the food industry it is used as a thickening agent and stabilizer in products such as juice, ice cream, ketchup, and sauces. In medicine, guar gum has evidence showing it to be of benefit for treating constipation, diarrhea, high cholesterol, hypertension, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Guar gum works on both constipation and diarrhea because it has the ability to normalize the moisture content of the stool. Thus it serves to absorb excess liquid in the case of diarrhea, and can soften the stool in cases of constipation.
In the natural health field, guar gum has been used for decades as a weight loss aid, due to its ability to expand in the intestine, creating a sense of fullness (satiety), reducing the desire to eat more. But, be warned, those using guar gum should start slowly, as too much too soon can cause side effects including diarrhea, gas, and/or loose stools. However, once the body gets used to it, these effects will diminish and eventually cease. (Source)
Guar Gum vs PHGG
Now we are going to look at the evolution of guar gum.
The new kid on the block is “partially hydrolyzed guar gum” (PHGG), a very different substance from guar gum, one which is processed differently in the body. PHGG is made by subjecting regular guar gum to enzymatic hydrolysis, a process whereby enzymes (mannanase, pectinase, and cellulose) break down certain molecular links. This process results in producing PHGG “which is a low molecular weight and low viscosity galactomannan”.
Soluble fibers, such as inulin, are not very viscous, that is they do not thicken up when added to liquid. Since guar gum is very viscous, so much that it is used as a thickening agent, some sources consider it to be an inferior prebiotic. However, once the guar gum has been turned into PHGG, it becomes less viscous and turns into a superior prebiotic. A prebiotic fiber which, unlike inulin and other soluble prebiotic fibers, can be used by those suffering from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), as well as by those on a Low FODMAP diet (a diet used to treat IBS: FODMAPs are certain types of carbohydrates to be avoided, which includes some fibers).
(This advantage of PHGG over inulin for people with SIBO, or on a Low FODMAP diet, is why we use PHGG instead of inulin in our Lactospore Supreme capsules, a product used to treat IBS and other serious digestive disorders.)
Clinically Proven Benefits of PHGG
- Superior prebiotic: One study found that PHGG fed and encouraged colonization among six strains of lactic acid bacteria (probiotics), as well as bifidobacterium.
- Works to relieve constipation as well as commercial laxatives, with no side effects.
- Lowers incidence of diarrhea in patients who are tube fed.
- PHGG can be added to enteral formulas (for tube feeding), and food products as a dietary fiber source.
- Proven effective in treating IBS (constipation-dominant and diarrhea-dominant), in children and adults.
- Used to treat children suffering from functional abdominal pain and gastrointestinal disorders.
New Provide Smoothie Mix
As mentioned in last week’s newsletter, this newsletter, and a few to follow, cover ingredients we will be incorporating into our revised Provide Smoothie Mix. This new version of Provide is designed to support the gut-brain axis, and thus will include partially hydrolyzed guar gum. We have chosen to use this fiber in Provide because it can be used by those with SIBO, or following a Low FODMAP diet, and for its superior properties as a prebiotic, which will serve all of us.
Each serving of Provide will contain 4 grams of PHGG. That being said, a therapeutic dose is from 5 to 7.5 g daily, however given the aforementioned tendency of PHGG to potentially cause some mild abdominal discomfort, it is always recommended that one start with a lower dose.
We believe that a 4 g serving offers the prebiotic benefits of PHGG, while being less likely to cause any temporary side effects. If, however, one did get some gas or bloating, they would be advised to start with half a serving (providing 2 g PHGG), moving up to half a serving twice a day. Soon thereafter one would have no problem taking the full serving.
And, of course, if one were seeking a more therapeutic dose, they could take more than one serving in a day (at separate times). Those experiencing some side effects may rest assured that these symptoms will dissipate once the microbiome has adjusted to its new healthier mix of bacteria.