Xanthan Gum Substitute: Why Some Are Sensitive to Xanthan

Is it xanthan, or what it's grown on?

Xanthan gum substitute: Learn why some prefer guar gum.

Xanthan gum substitute: Some people on special diets discover that their allergy friendly products are still making them uncomfortable after eating. Many subscribers to Healthy Family are corn sensitive, so I want to discuss the corn connection with xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is typically grown on corn but not always. There is disagreement about whether or not sensitivities to xanthan gum are due to corn allergy or because of an additional sensitivity to xanthan gum itself.

If you are having difficulty with manufactured foods that include it and feel you need a xanthan gum substitute, you’ll need to determine the source of the intolerance.

Xanthan Gum Sourcing

Xanthan is imported a lot and not necessarily domestic. Xanthan gum can be grown on cabbage too, and the company sourcing their xanthan may not be sourcing it from a company that grows it on corn, or from a part of the world that does not have high food safety standards. It can come from China or India, for example. It is the end product of a bacterium that is fed the corn or cabbage so that it can fester and grow itself.

Xanthan Gum Sensitivity

A person sensitive to xanthan may not necessarily be sensitive because of the corn. It can be an additional sensitivity to the bacterium, or a sensitivity to impure ingredients from a toxic supplier. The logic behind this is simple. If a corn allergic person can eat beef that is fed corn, or eggs that are fed corn, drink milk from a corn fed cow, then their need for a xanthan gum substitute might be a separate additional one that they are dealing with. Another example of this, which many gluten sensitive folks can relate to, is oats. There are some celiac folks who cannot tolerate gluten free oats. This is not because the oats are contaminated with wheat gluten. While commercial oats are harvested with wheat on shared fields and with shared machines, gluten free oats are not. They are carefully tested for gluten in laboratories before they are labeled gluten free. They are grown on fields not rotated with wheat, and harvested with separate machines. No. People with gluten sensitivities that are also sensitive to gluten free oats are actually reacting to a protein in the oats with a similar intolerance that they have to the gluten in wheat. Each is its own intolerance.

In our case we never noticed problems with xanthan gum for our corn intolerant son. But we did notice problems with with ingredients like citric acid, which is often made from corn.

Xanthan Gum Substitute

If you need a xanthan gum substitute, guar gum is a good alternative that many corn intolerant folks use. As a baking additive, I find guar gum to be a better ingredient than xanthan gum.  I like it better. It acts like xanthan gum but gives a better result.  Guar gum is a middle eastern plant and it creates a much thicker product than the same amount you would use for corn starch, so a little bit goes a long way. If you are using it to substitute for corn starch in a recipe, do not add an equal amount. Reduce it by 2/3 for best results.

Where to Buy Xanthan Gum Substitute

You can get guar gum at health food stores and online. It is not very easy to find but it is out there and it makes a good xanthan gum substitute. Hope this helps. I know the frustration you are feeling. As far as products go, if you use it and don’t have a reaction with a corn-free version like Namaste, then the problem could very well be cross-contamination in your case. Most products with xanthan gum will not specify whether it is corn derived or not. It’s like roulette. This is why we initially decided to try Bob’s Red Mill Guar Gum – 8 oz and just skipped the xanthan. We did do Namaste. Eventually we reintroduced xanthan and my son was fine with it. But everyone is different.

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1 Comment on Xanthan Gum Substitute: Why Some Are Sensitive to Xanthan

  1. I am severely corn allergic or intolerant. I also have to scrutinize every single ingredient, even in Organic vitamins. I appreciate this article. I have been going through a similar path with Dextrose. I used to eliminate it completely, but noticed recently that Now Foods has been using Dextrose from tapioca on some labels of Plant Enzymes. Few people are excited about my discovery. I also spend a lot of my energy wondering what is allergy/sensitivity/or Celiac. In the hospital, I have to have a sign above my bed, “NO Dextrose IV.” Of course, I can’t eat any hospital food safely.

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