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Do I need to worry about the guar-gum in my coconut milk?

by (10170) Updated November 05, 2013 at 6:10 PM Created May 02, 2010 at 4:19 PM

In Belgium it is hard to find coconut milk without some additives. Even the organic brands add guar-gum. Do I need to worry about this?

Some info on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guar_gum), but I don't like the sound of: "Guar gum, also called guaran, is a galactomannan. It is primarily the ground endosperm of guar beans". Especially the bean part rings a bell.

Thank you.

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20 Replies

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1623 · May 13, 2011 at 8:06 PM

Guar Gum might work for many, but some people can have pretty severe reactions to it…

My Experience: I've been strict paleo and stayed away from all processed food for the last 6 months. 2 days ago I decided to get myself a little 'treat' and made myself a coconut curry with some lite coconut milk (with Guar Gum) for my first packaged food splurge.

2 hours later I was laying on the floor with severe abdominal pain and cramping, flatulence and diarrhea- NOT a fun night. (sorry if that's TMI!)

Although it is sometimes recommended to help with “promoting regular bowel movements and relieve constipation” (wiki- Guar Gum), people with IBS-like symptoms can have severe problems with it.

From sharecare.com: “The most common side effect of taking guar gum is flatulence. About 50 percent of those using guar gum experience this side effect”. http://www.sharecare.com/question/side-effects-of-guar-gum

“Guar gum may sometimes cause gastrointestinal (GI) complications. These complications include pain, flatulence, nausea, and diarrhea.” http://www.sharecare.com/question/know-before-taking-guar-gum

Trust me, they aren’t kidding!

After doing further research I ran across several additional sites and forum threads describing people's personal experiences with the gut irritating effects of Guar Gum:

Love this short article entitled “Why is someone putting laxatives in my soup?”: http://www.islandfoodie.com/guar%20gum.htm

http://www.ehow.com/about_5032973_guar-gum-side-effects.html - several of the commenters after the main article mention their reactions- which mirrored mine.

http://www.healthboards.com/irritable-bowel-syndrome/3019.html -another fun reaction…

http://www.ic-network.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22290 - from the interstitial cystitis forum

Anyway, Thought that it would be good to put this out there for those of us who are a bit more sensitive than the average bear. In case you are experiencing any of these problems you might want to avoid guar gum...

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1724 · May 02, 2010 at 6:21 PM

Maybe you'd appreciate what Mark Sisson says about Guar Gum:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-wonderful-world-of-coconut-products/

"The thick, creamy liquid that comes out is coconut milk and can be used for Thai curries and Brazilian seafood stew. Personally, I love drinking a big chilled glass of it by itself. Because people tend to misinterpret the natural separation of coconut milk in the can as spoilage, most canned coconut milk often includes thickening agents like guar gum, especially the stuff sold in Western countries. I wouldn’t worry too much about guar gum."

He doesn't say why he wouldn't worry about it. Probably because the good of the coconut product outweighs the bad of the industrially refined polysaccharide "guar gum." A galactomannan is just a refined carb that, in this case, has thickening and binding properties. I.E. it's a "gum." If it's pure it won't have any evil "bean" lectins or anything like that.

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15261 · June 01, 2011 at 6:48 PM

You can mail order coconut products from Tropical Traditions. They don't have coconut milk, but something they call "coconut cream concentrate". It is not liquid, it is solid, sort of like unsweetened peanut butter but made from coconut. You can mix it with warm water to get something like unsweetened coconut milk. I wrote about it here. I use it a lot in curries, smoothies, and just drinking by itself.

Even though it isn't as sweet or convenient as store-bought coconut milk, I think it is way better for you. Commercial coconut milks are produced using lots of heat and chemicals, and sugars and stabilizers are added to them too. This stuff is extracted by hand and is about 70% fat and so is a good source of coconut oil.

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20 · September 25, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Golden Star coconut milk contains only water and coconut milk.

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10 · October 01, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Be suspicious! Any coconut cream or milk HAS to contain a 'thickening agent' (i.e. guar gum) to give it that homogenous cream consistency.. no matter how 'pure' it may seem according to the packaging. I personally only trust the ones which separate into water and fatty solids. If you shake or blend these the emulsion will last for a couple of minutes rather than days and weeks and months.. if they are pure.

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25197 · September 25, 2011 at 5:02 PM

I use it for patients with FH to lower increase their HDL to improve endotoxin clearance in the portal circulation with some other medical maneuvers.

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14 · June 01, 2011 at 6:43 PM

for me it is a problem. Every time I eat some coconut cream with guar gum in it i get bloated like back in the day when i ate grains. Really awful and for a while I did not know what was causing it. I heard a podcast by the healthy skeptic (one with Robb Wolf, Mat Lalonde and Chris Kresser) and they spoke about it. I did an n=1 experiment and bingo. :(( It sucks

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156 · June 10, 2010 at 2:15 PM

The Thai brand Aroy-D sells coconut milk in the type of waxed cardboard container similar to juice containers etc with no additives but i have only found it in an Asian market called T&T

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164 · May 02, 2010 at 10:24 PM

It might even be helpful as some of it is metabolized into butyrate by bacteria in the colon..

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1954 · May 02, 2010 at 5:55 PM

I'm not sure the guar gum is harmful. I haven't found any brand that doesn't have some sort of additive. The one in my pantry now was manufactured in Thailand -- no guar gum or other thickener, but it does have citric acid and a sulfite preservative. Maybe if we go to an Asian grocer we'll find something better.

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7989 · November 05, 2013 at 6:10 PM

You can easily make your own coconut milk with dried coconut. Pour nearly boiling water over the flakes at a ratio of about 3 parts water to 1part dried coconut flakes and blend In the blender until the liquid is white and somewhat thickened. (Use an oven mitt of thick towel to hold the lid when you first turn on the blender or hot water will spur out!).

Strain the blend through a nuts milk bag or muslin bag to separate the milk from the pulp (you can dry the pulp in your oven or dehydrator and then grind it for coconut flour). Add vanilla and a touch of sweetener (honey, stevia, etc.) if desired. Refrigerate. It doesn't last long so I make small quantities or freeze the extra in ice cube trays.

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0 · November 05, 2013 at 4:56 PM

For those that are worried, here is a brand that does NOT include guar gum. http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Value-Coconut-13-5-Ounce-Containers/dp/B000LKVIEG/ref=sr_1_3?srs=5856181011&ie=UTF8&qid=1383670363&sr=8-3&keywords=coconut+milk

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0 · August 14, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Another source of guar gum that I did not realize is Boku Super Protein. A "super health" product that I've been taking for years with no issues..but last couple years started to constantly have bad gas(like horrible smelling,also bloated& constant gas) after taking it. I equated this to all types of sensitivities,FodMaps, gluten, fructose sensitivity. I noticed it got less when I cut out the coconut milk. I think Boku must have changed the formula sometime along the line as I didn't use to have the issues with their older protein powders. Until recently I was taking it pretty regularly with my pre/post workout smoothie ...I actually increased the dose quite a bit as I increased my muscle building...horrible bloating and gas. Kept blaming berries, bananas etc...tinkering the smoothie recipes. I ran out while travelling recently&switched brands..and my bloating subsided. I decided to reread and compare the ingredients in the brands and lo and behold Boku Super Protein contains organic guar gum! While that's an ideal source of it, my stomach was having bad reactions, I'm glad I noticed this, as I even stopped drinking raw milk as a a result thinking it was the dairy!

I guess the moral of the story is just because someone on the internet says it's good for you, fiber etc. Does not necessarily mean it's healthy for you!

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1032 · May 25, 2013 at 6:16 PM

BLeh. I just bought coconut with guar gum to make chocolate custard. I hope I dont' spend my night on the floor with severe stomach pain.

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0 · May 25, 2013 at 5:52 PM

If you order from Amazon.com you can get BPA Free Cans with Natural Coconut Milk with nothing but Coconut extract and Water no Guar Gum. http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Value-Coconut-13-5-Ounce-Containers/dp/B000LKVIEG/ref=wl_it_dp_o_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=1L2NWKUXUWX9E&coliid=I1JCMQ7CFR3Q85 there is the link. Hope this helps!

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0 · April 07, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Trader joes has a lite coconut milk additive free. I mix it with a can and a quarter of Water. Its perfect

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2923 · October 01, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Savoy brand, from Thailand. Coconut cream. It doesn't behave like it's gummed up with anything. It's unique. Thick as can be. Is it too good to be true?

Edited directly. Ignore my comment.

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103 · May 14, 2011 at 3:58 PM

if you worrie you are not alone. i worry to and wont consume it. * Go for taste. there are already some good point top.

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629 · May 14, 2011 at 3:55 PM

This seems to explain the stomach issues I was having when I was drinking a can of coconut milk with coffee for breakfast. Since I dropped the coconut milk (I still eat dried coconut and coconut oil) my stomach issues (constipation, diarrhea, mild nausea) have stopped. Good to know!

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8 · June 10, 2010 at 6:24 AM

I'm not sure the guar gum is harmful. I haven't found any brand that doesn't have some sort of additive...but t might even be helpful.. http://choyungteareview.net

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