Our Reactions to Gums
People with alpha-gal syndrome describe reactions after eating foods containing gums
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Nobody knows why some people with alpha-gal syndrome react after eating gums, like gellan and xanthan gum. Is it because whey is used during the production process? Do the bacteria used to make some of these gums express alpha-gal? Or is the problem that they disrupt the gut mucosa, exposing the gut epithelia to alpha-gal containing products of our gut bacteria? More research is needed. In the meantime, if you experience reactions after exposure to gums, avoid them.
I have Alpha Gal Syndrome. Every morning I use Almond Milk in my Iced Coffee. Some days I would notice a tight feeling in my neck and get a queasy tummy. One morning, I decided to investigate the ingredients in my Almond Milk. I targeted Gellan Gum, which is a common ingredient in Nut Milks and Ice Cream.
I discovered that numerous gums are used to thicken and stabilize food. Even though they occur naturally in nature, gums are complex sugar compounds implicated in disrupting the lining of your intestines, and causing allergic reactions in people sensitive to Alpha Gal.
In my case, the gum probably settled to the bottom of carton, so some days I ingested a higher concentration when I emptied the carton. It also seems brand specific, so my reaction maybe related to the type of gum, how its manufactured, and the concentration. For now I am trying to avoid all gums in my food, and it’s challenging!
Xanthan Gum gets me every time, I know this to be true by doing an elimination diet. I am vegan now too I might add after 4 years of being diagnosed. I’ve seen doctors at MCV and Vanderbilt, both encouraged a vegan diet to help eliminate undetected reactions. Eliminating gums from strict vegan diet has been a game changer and also carrageenan & natural flavors. I make my own food and rarely eat anything store bought/processed that is not in it’s pure form, the more diligent I am the better I feel and I do not have reactions.
I am still in the early learning stages but have found gums are problematic for me. I bought a ‘vegan’ protein powder but had a reaction (sneezing, cough, runny nose, itching, itchy mouth and then mild GI) and it had guar and bean gum. I used Silk Cashew Milk and had the same reaction and it has locust bean and gellan gum. I tried So Delicious Coconut Vanilla Yogurt and had the same reaction and it has Locust Bean Gum. Same reaction to Xanthum Gum. Learning that ‘vegan’ doesn’t always mean safe for me.
I did not react to gums initially at least not that I realized. About 3 months after diagnosis (and after cutting out all mammal) I started getting dizzy with certain meals. Like almost fall out of a chair dizzy. I tracked my food journal until I had enough foods to compare ingredients. Xanthan gum was the only crossover. I cut it out and the dizziness while eating stopped.
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