Before listing the benefits of xanthan gum, it should be noted that individuals with a food allergy (or multiple food allergies) may have their health compromised when ingesting xanthan gum as it is derived from multiple food sources, which include wheat, soy and corn, to name just a few. Be certain of which food source that specific xanthan gum came from (when possible) or altogether avoid it.
Having said that, the benefits of xanthan gum are the following:
used as a laxative in preventing constipation, xanthan gum increases in volume when in the intestine, which leads to the digestive tract’s downward pushing of stool
is able to reduce the rate of sugar absorption within the digestive tract;
for people suffering from Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease that compromises (for one) salivary glands, non-existent saliva concentrations can be replaced by xanthan gum as it effective in wetting and lubricating the mouth;
is effective in lowering both the blood sugar and cholesterol levels of diabetes patients, but when used in conjunction with other diabetes medication the individual must monitor their blood sugar often in order to not have a value that is too low and potentially dangerous
Food and Beverage:
xanthan gum’s ability to significantly increase the viscosity of a food with its own minimal addition and thin out while being poured, but re-thicken immediately afterwards (known as shear thinning or pseudoplasticity) is why it is added to salad dressings and sauces;
the pleasant texture of many ice creams can be attributed to the additive, xanthan gum, as it adds smoothness while preventing ice crystal formation;
when baking, the stickiness of gluten (found in wheat) is replaced by the stickiness of xanthan gum that is associated with the dough or batter used for gluten-free foods;
due to it neither changing the flavour nor colour of foods or beverages, xanthan gum is used in thickening liquids and substituting saliva for people suffering from swallowing issues
xanthan gum effectively stabilizes emulsions with respect to oil separation;
provides suspension of solid particles like spices
Cosmetics and Toiletries:
serves as a binder in keeping toothpaste uniform and is a common ingredient in shampoo
thickens drilling mud due to its rheology-modifying property (can alter the flow of matter)
Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide that is made up of a repeating 2-to-2-to-1 molar ratio of glucose, mannose and glucuronic acid. Whether lactose, glucose or sucrose is fermented, the subsequent product precipitates from an isopropyl-filled growth medium and is then crushed into a fine powder after being dried. The gum characteristic of Xanthan gum is created only after the final step in which the precipitate is added to a liquid medium. The strain of bacterium responsible for fermenting lactose was developed as a result of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) trying to maximize the use of cheese’s by-product, whey. The cabbage-derived Xanthomonas campestris strain (hence the name, xanthan) that specifically grew on lactose had 75% of its yield turn into xanthan gum from the original whey concentration.
During the 60s many biopolymers – macromolecules with repeating units produced by living organisms – were extensively investigated by American chemical researcher, Allene Jeanes, and her USDA team in order to determine their safety and subsequent use. Xanthan gum was one of them and eventually was given the green light in terms of being used as a food additive in 1968. Its variety of uses during the last few decades has broadened.