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Zero-energy Thickeners

guar xanthan

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#1 mccoy

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 05:34 AM

Guar gum or xanthan gum? or other gums? To be used in cold smoothies.


Are you guys aware of potential detrimental effects?


I tried today a soymilk + pea protein smoothie with guar gum, it became an incredibly satiating pudding, potentially very good for those who practice CR.


Almost all of it is fiber, with some available carbs.


I'd prefer the less expensive gums.


"Data speak for themselves" -Reverend Thomas Bayes 1702-1761

#2 Dean Pomerleau

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 06:30 AM

Psyllium powder is an a cheaper fiber-only alternative thickener you might try.



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#3 TomBAvoider

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 12:30 PM

I use both psyllium *powder* (1tbsp) and psyllium *husks* (1 tbsp) in my morning "soup" (that contains a bunch of other ingredients). I've been using psyllium powder for close to 20 years 1tbsp daily (with a few breaks while traveling), and I have not noticed any deleterious effects. In my research wrt psyllium, I've seen studies showing benefits on all cause mortality in those who consumed psyllium (a study in Spain), but otherwise there isn't a whole lot of research. Some possible small benefits lowering LDL cholesterol, obviously assists in bowel movements, possible benefits in gut biome. There was some controversy about impact on mineral absorbtion especially trace metals like zinc, but the findings were mixed - some findings saw inhibition, some found actually greater uptake thanks to psyllium.


I know for a while there was a lot of enthusiasm among CRONies for konjac, but I believe it's pretty pricy (at least in the U.S.). I never tried it. I find that consuming a lot of F&V is quite satiating, so I don't need to turn to fiber supplementation for that purpose, my purpose with pysllium is to lower LDL cholesterol and provide possible gut biome benefits (prebiotic). 

#4 Mechanism

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 12:36 PM

Hi Mccoy,


Its been a while since I responded to any of your posts; hope you are well. Aside from PubMed Medline searches and diving into the papers, I find the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) helpful as a first pass for general topics.  Though they do not go into as much detail as ConsumerLabs, I do like that CSPI, just like Consumer Reports does not accept advertisements to avoid conflicts of interest.  Their advisory board membership is open to public, and to the degree they may have philosophical leanings, it is also helpful that they also have citations for most of their publications, permitting a 2nd tier of accountability provided you do the due diligence to assess the publications ( and any contradictory manuscripts / data) yourself.


Their Chemical Cuisine offers a decent overview of additives at https://cspinet.org/...hemical-cuisine


The following is an excerpt from that source:


"Gums are derived from natural sources (bushes, trees, seaweed, bacteria) and are poorly tested, though probably safe. They are not absorbed by the body. They are used to thicken foods, prevent sugar crystals from forming in candy, stabilize beer foam (arabic), form a gel in pudding (furcelleran), encapsulate flavor oils in powdered drink mixes, or keep oil and water mixed together in salad dressings. Gums are often used to replace fat in low-fat ice cream, baked goods, and salad dressings. Tragacanth has caused occasional severe allergic reactions. The FDA warns against giving a product called SimplyThick, which contains xanthan gum, to infants, since it may cause a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis. It is not clear whether the gum itself, bacterial contamination of the gum, or some other cause is to blame."


Now I don't source smoothies as a regular staple in my own diet ( https://nutritionfac...reen-smoothies/), but for those who do, including yourself I am curious: are there any natural sources that are high fiber that you can pulverize in a smoothie to give it that quality you seek?  If so, I may gently steer individuals for whom the benefits of smoothies exceed the liabilities ( via food substitution) in that direction. 


The reason I ask, is that it seems that on a variety of ways, pulverizing the whole food source in the smoothing process circumvents "nutritionism" and is closer to an ancestral nutrition which given the black box of nutrition science, which I regard to still be in its infancy, is more likely to the shift the benefit/risk ratio favorably by first principals alone.  For example, the Jerusalem artichoke is particularly high in prebiotics, though from a palatability standpoint I cannot vouch for its use in a smoothie! 


Such an approach does not involve a "zero calorie" thickener per se, but by substitution may also reduce the calorie/volume and calorie/gram ratios while potentially raising the nutrient/calorie ratio.  Just as we are increasingly recognizing that many circumstances probiotics less than optimally reconsintute a microbiome in its diversity and complexity as an ecosystem with synergistic higher order benefits -  so too for dietary fiber obtained directly from no or minimally processed primary food sources. 


I realize of course psyllium and other fiber sources are natural and a variety of studies suggest potential benefit.  I only question whether freshly smoothed vegetables may have qualities a factory powderized extracted fiber may not.  With the complexity of food science, I treat the problem as a black box and would favor the former over the latter if possible.


I personally source my own general prebiotic, soluble/insoluble fiber, etc. in whole in natural states, and try to diversify fruit and vegetable food sources as much as possible, obtaining  >100-200 grams of fiber ( soluble+insoluble) a day primarily from root vegetables, legumes, nuts/seeds, berries, green leafy and "chunky" vegetables.  IIRC, though bulkage has been an issue for you in the past, and I can understand your motivation to to diversify other ways.


Hope that help, would be interested to hear what your experiments yield, and what works but for you.

Edited by Mechanism, 18 March 2018 - 01:00 PM.

#5 mccoy

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 03:31 PM

Thanks guys, based on product + shipping costs in my country I just ordered powdered psyllium and guar gum. I already knew about psyllium husks, but didn't know they can come in a thickening powder.


@ mechanism: of course I agree that natural foods are better than smoothies. Sometimes though I like to indulge in a viscous liquid, rather than drinking just soymilk, which per se is just another food derived from its natural father, the soybean.


Bananas are very good closer-to-natural gelifiers, with a couple of drawbacks though: their taste doesn't match well with soymilk and they oxydize very soon. I love banans with almond milk and berries.


So my recent experiment has a dual purpose: providing me with a proteic liquid, more viscous than soymilk, which sometimes settles better with the stomach. And that liquid is also portable, no quick degradation of the ingredients, there is no need to drink it immediatly.


Yesterday I used little guar gum and the result was a fluid with the right viscosity, and a good optimization of digestibility and tastefulness.


Today I used too much guar gum, the result was a very viscous pudding which the stomach read as a little digestible lump of strange food. It took my hunger totally away and gave me a mild nausea.


But this gave me an idea about maybe using it during VAlter Longo's FMDs, with a vegetable broth that would constitute a zero calories satiating meal. Or even with almond milk, if the macros are the right ones.


Now this is an experiment in progress.




I personally source my own general prebiotic, soluble/insoluble fiber, etc. in whole in natural states, and try to diversify fruit and vegetable food sources as much as possible, obtaining  >100-200 grams of fiber ( soluble+insoluble) a day primarily from root vegetables, legumes, nuts/seeds, berries, green leafy and "chunky" vegetables.  IIRC, though bulkage has been an issue for you in the past, and I can understand your motivation to to diversify other ways.


Mechanism, that's a huge amount of fiber! I can rarely reach 100 grams. I have no more bowel issues, the body is getting accustomed to an hi-fibers, vegan diet. I do tend to get bloated though and still cannot digest readily legumes, even ingesting enzymes. I do my best to include them in my diet though, even if in small quantities.

Edited by mccoy, 18 March 2018 - 03:34 PM.

"Data speak for themselves" -Reverend Thomas Bayes 1702-1761

#6 Mechanism

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 05:02 PM

Thanks for the interesting FU in your experiment McCoy. It took me probably a year to gradually increase my “bulkage” capacity. The fiber tally I provided is not only a tally for a day, but also did a single meal ( to my own surprise the once a day eating plan has worked great for me).

Thanks for the feedback on bananas as a source ( calorically dense but a whole food source of palatable fiber for smoothies). Banana brown naturally due to an enzyme as opposed to true spoilage: http://scienceline.u...ey.php?key=1213

If this is the case ( and not be mere “browning”) I was not aware they “oxidize” quickly in smoothies relative to other pukverized natural sources provided they are refrigerated but would not be surprised ( and would expect) to hear that it does relative to gums and powder based fibers as the latter excludes more ( healthy associated) oxidizable organic matter.

PS- Glad to hear you have tolerated increased fiber without digestive tissues, that’s great. Regarding legumes - the food source most in common in the Blue Zones identified by buetner - representing an exception “ even with enzymes”, consider if you haven’t tried it and cost effective where you live obtaining sprouted legumes which is a more natural and potentially effective approach than utilizing digestive enzymes.... extended soaking +/- pressure cooker can go a long way, and even perhaps fermenting ( think natto but besides Dean and I, I don’t know anybody else here frequenting this high K2 and nattokinase and even decent spermidine level complete acquired taste).
Sprouting and fermentation have been adapted in many traditional societies as an answer to these and other antinutrient associated digestive and absorptive issues. Lentils, and smaller beans tend to cause the least digestive issues with their lower average phytate, sapponin, and other antinutrient concentrations. Chickpeas are an exception and despite not being a smaller legume tend to be better tolerate too. Best of luck!

Edited by Mechanism, 18 March 2018 - 05:26 PM.

#7 mccoy

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 03:05 PM

I've been experimenting with psyllium husks powder now, and the only drawback is that it blunts the taste of the underlying ingredients.

I'll blend 400 dL soymilk,  1 or 2 tbsp dark honey, 1 or two tbsp pea protein isolate, 1-2 tbspns caco powder, orange rinds, cinnamom, 1 tbsp psyllium husks pwder..

This is the result, a thick, tasty, proteic sludge.



"Data speak for themselves" -Reverend Thomas Bayes 1702-1761