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Is gellan gum safe in our diet?

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gelling gella gum

We return to the load with the food additives in feeding. In this case we are talking about the gellan gum which has been used in various foods since 1970.

Its initial use was as an additive looking for a substitute for gelatin and agar gum (agar agar). Currently we can see it incorporated in the manufacture of various sweets, vegetable milks, meats, jams and a long etcetera.

Here is our main issue. Is gellan gum safe or is it part of that list of additives that we must avoid its consumption, as is the case with the carrageenan.

In this article we want to compile the main bibliographic source and scientific tests carried out on the safety of this additive coded as E 418.

What exactly is gellan gum?

Gellan gum is classified as a food additive. Its use is based on trying to bind, join or stabilize the mixture of various components. Basically it is to thicken or gel, as does the agar agar, xanthan gum or different algae extracts.

Therefore, there are currently many products that have to bind and give stability to various ingredients, and therefore, additives are part of our daily lives.

The process of obtaining it is based on the natural fermentation of sugar using a specific bacterium known scientifically as Sphingomonas elodea.

The positive thing about gellan gum compared to other gelling agents is that it is not sensitive to heat, so it keeps the ingredients more stable despite temperature changes.

In turn, for the vegan diet, it is interesting to use gelling agents that replace gelatin, which as you know comes from animals (skin, bone or cartilage).

In which products is gellan gum used?

Uses of gellan gum

Imagine the variety of ingredients or supplements that need to be stabilized with gellan gum.

Any dessert that contains cream or such a texture, needs to have a gelatinous consistency and of greater solidity, so this type of additive is added. Among them a clear example is brûlée cream, fruit juices and vegetable milks, which are usually separated into several phases (as is the case with gazpacho).

In turn, gellan gum is not only used in gastronomy and in the elaboration of products, since it also has medical applications. It is used as an excellent tissue regenerator (for skin wounds), in dentistry for dental care, bone repair, to limit the evolution of allergic processes, etc.

Foods that contain this gelling agent

Some of the foods that need gellan gum to give them stability are the following:

NOTE: Please note that it does not generalize to all products based on these categories.

  • Fruits and vegetables: vegetable creams and fruits, jams, dried fruits and vegetables, etc.
  • Dairy products: dairy creams, yogurts, fermented milk, processed cheese and fresh cheeses.
  • Beverages: drinks based on milk chocolate, alcoholic beverages, plant juices, etc.
  • Pastries: baking creams, sweets and chewing gum.
  • Processed foods: cereals, gnocchi, ideos, bread, rolls and pasta without gluten.
  • Other foods: meats and processed fish, condiments, sugar and syrups, among others.

An easy way to identify any foods that contain gellan gum is to see on the label the designation E-418.

Potential Benefits of Gellan Gum

In this part of the article we want to analyze what the scientific community about the beneficial properties for our body. In general, all additives present in food have been studied in depth and analyzed the maximum amount to be used, as well as their potential properties.

May relieve constipation

It seems silly, but like gellan gum it is able to gel and add solidity to food, also to feces. This means that by increasing the volume of them, their peristaltic movement is greater, at the intestinal level. [1]

Even so, the capacity we ingest and its interaction with feces is quite limited and depends on the person who consumes them and the dose introduced, so the results reproduced in various environments have been different and diffuse.

More is needed scientific trials regarding constipation and the additive gellan for more information.

Regulation of the lipid profile

There are several connected investigations that evaluate the advantage of taking additives that accelerate the digestive process and its interaction with the concentration of lipids in organs, especially in the liver.

In a study conducted in women and men, with an intake of 175 mg / kg of body weight for 7 days and 200 mg / kg of body weight for another 16 days, the interaction of gellan gum in triglyceride levels, cholesterol and lipid profile.

The conclusions obtained reveal that serum cholesterol concentrations decreased significantly by 13% on average in women, and by 12% for men.

However, the same study confirms that the consumption of gellan gum has no significant effect on plasma biochemical parameters and haematological indices. That is, there were no changes in the levels of HDL cholesterol, triglycerides or phospholipids.

In conclusion, a more long-term investigation with a larger number of sample sizes is necessary to obtain more important and clear conclusions.

Possible disadvantages of its consumption

The part that touches now is to analyze if, incorporated in a large amount of foods as we have seen before, we can consume a dose that causes a potential malignant effect in the short, medium or even long term.

From the conclusions of the previous point, positive results were obtained regarding the toxicology of gellan gum, because after consuming high amounts of the additive for almost 1 month, there were no side effects in any of the patients analyzed.

The EU has carried out animal studies to check the maximum amount and its impact on the body. The studies analyzed conclude that there should be no concern as to the possible carcinogenicity and genotoxicity of gellan gum. In addition, no adverse effects have been reported in chronic studies with the highest doses tested in rats and mice.

Conclusions

As confirmed by the EU and all the clinical trials carried out, there is no reason to consider this additive as unsafe for the population, even at high doses that, in no way, we could consume only with the foods that contain it.

On the other hand, there is also no solid evidence of beneficial effects on the body, except for some references that have not been corroborated by other scientific departments.

Article references

[1] Constipation relief: the dietary effects of gellan gum in humans.

[2] Studies on lipid metabolism and the consumption of gellan gum.

 

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About Andrew Parkinson

Andrew Parkinson is a highly accomplished pharmacist with a passion for improving healthcare. With a wealth of experience in both community and clinical pharmacy settings, he's known for his dedication to patient well-being. Mr. Parkinson actively engages in medication management, offering personalized solutions and promoting better health outcomes. He has also played a pivotal role in educating patients on proper medication usage and potential interactions. Andrew's commitment to advancing the field of pharmacy and ensuring safe and effective drug therapies has garnered him recognition as a trusted and invaluable healthcare professional, making a positive impact on countless lives.

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