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How is the Food Additive Xanthan Gum Processed in the Gut?

. It is often used as a thickener due to its unique ability to make liquids more viscous.

This is the first step in understanding how new food ingredients could be changing our microbiomes and whether these changes are good or bad. The study findings are published in the journal Nature Microbiology.

Xanthan gum processing appears to be driven by one microbe, a bacterium from the family Ruminococcaceae, which breaks down the carbohydrates in xanthan gum.

A different gut bacterium, Bacteroides intestinalis, feeds on the smaller carbohydrates released by the Ruminococcaceae bacterium. Bacterial consumption of xanthan gum likely leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids that play roles in intestinal health and can contribute to total caloric intake.

Furthermore, the genetic signatures of these gut bacteria are relatively absent in samples from microbiomes of people from non-industrialized countries, hinting that widespread consumption of the food additive may actively alter the gut microbiome.

The team also found that mice microbiomes can process xanthan gum, which may imply that the ability to process the substance may have already been present in the mammalian gut to some degree.

This may be especially important for people who consume above-average amounts of xanthan gum, such as people with celiac disease and those following gluten-free diets.

Source: Medindia

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