Guar gum is what is known as a soluble fiber, and it is well known that it promotes a healthy colon. You will not find soluble fiber in what you believe to be 'high fiber foods', yet it is a very important part of your diet, particularly if you have problems with your colon such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or even colon cancer.
Traditional high fiber foods, such as bran, leafy vegetables and cereals, contain insoluble fiber that mechanically act as an aid to digestion and the movement of your food through your gastrointestinal system. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is found in what are more commonly regarded as starchy foods, although unlike starch, the chemical bonds that attach the various sugar molecules together cannot be broken by the acids and enzymes used by your gastric system to digest them.
They thus pass through the body undigested, in the same way as insoluble fibers, and so contribute to the mechanical system upon which the peristaltic pumping motion of the intestine depends. Because it is not digested, soluble fiber contains practically no calories since it does not contribute to the metabolism of your body. Fiber imparts many benefits in addition to enabling your intestine peristalsis to move your food through your digestive system.
For a start they don't contribute to your nutrition, either negatively or positively, but provide bulk to what you eat and provide help to your bowel movements by giving the intestinal muscles something to bite on. One of the benefits of such foods is their effect on your blood sugar and preventing the onset of diabetes. They can also help you to avoid obesity through providing virtually calorie-free bulk to your meals. Some fibers can bind chemically to toxins and certain fats, and can clean out your colon. So what's the benefit of soluble fiber over the insoluble type, and where does guar gum enter the equation?
Basically, soluble fiber is water soluble while insoluble fiber is not. Insoluble fiber is contained in cereals, beans and peas, fruits and in fact anything that doesn't dissolve in water, even when acted upon by that concentrated hydrochloric acid that is the basis of your digestive juices. Soluble fiber can help to prolonging the time that your stomach acids and enzymes spend in digesting your food. Soluble fiber is reported as conferring many health benefits, and guar gum and pectin are two of its major forms.
Guar gum is obtained from the guar bean, indigenous to India and Pakistan, but also grown in the USA, China Africa and Australia. The bean is edible to humans, and also used as cattle feed and fertilizer. TO obtain the gum, the seeds are dehusked and milled, and the gum is a whitish powder, not gummy as you might believe. However, when dissolved in water it gels when it comes into contact with calcium or borax.
It is effective as a laxative, due to the bulk it forms when dissolved in water, and can relieve not only constipation, but is also an effective treatment for IBS, Crohn's disease, colitis and other conditions of the lower digestive tract. Because it enables the colon to eject toxins and other undesirable waste products much more rapidly, guar gum is good for the health of your colon, and absorbs not only toxins but also undesirable bacteria.
Guar gum is what is known as thermogenic: it helps your body to burn fat by converting it to energy, with a resulting increase in your body heat. Not only that, but because it contains very little calorie content, it can bulk up a meal, help to make you feel satisfied and lower the glycemic index of your meal. It is used in many types of weight loss products and diets, although its uncontrolled use can be dangerous due to the potential blockage of your esophagus through insufficient fluid intake. For that single reason you are unable to purchase guar gum in non-prescriptive weight loss products.
Another of the benefits of soluble fiber, and guar gum in particular, is that it accelerates the absorption of calcium in the colon. Since calcium is normally absorbed in the small intestine, as opposed to the colon, this is good news for those seeking to lose weight. The reason for that is that the dairy products which traditionally contain most calcium tend to be high in calories, and guar gum enables you to get your RDA of calcium from a diet lower in these products by maximizing the calcium extraction and absorption right through the intestinal tract, and not only in the small intestine.
It has also been found to improve your tolerance to glucose. One of the problems that diabetics have is that sugars are absorbed mainly in the small intestine, whereas guar gum also enables it to be absorbed in the colon. Therefore, while the overall absorption level remains constant, there are no peaks and troughs since the absorption is constant through the entire intestinal tract rather than all the demand being in the small intestine. There is therefore less of a demand for insulin at certain times after a meal, so that the overall level of blood insulin can be reduced.
Guar gum is used as a delivery medium for certain drugs. Where it is desirable for a drug to be released into the colon as opposed to any other part of the gastrointestinal tract, this is the ideal substance. Guar gum can be degraded, if not digested, by anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that live in the absence of oxygen). Certain drugs can be attached to the guar gum molecule, and after consumption will pass unchanged through the stomach, duodenum and small intestine.
However, when it reaches the colon, the anaerobic bacteria that populate the large intestine degrade the gum, and release the drug molecules into the colon where they are needed. There are a number of delivery techniques in addition to using the gum itself, including using derivatives of guar gum, using a combination of the gum and other polymers and also multiparticulate delivery techniques.
Partially hydrolyzed guar gum also seems to increase the population of your bowel with friendly bacteria, or probiotics, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These can help to prevent or reduce the symptoms of many bowel conditions, and probiotic drinks taken with guar gum can be extremely beneficial to people suffering the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other similar disorders of the lower intestinal tract.
So if you have a disorder of your lower intestine or colon, try a soluble fiber such as guar gum as a natural treatment, and where appropriate also take that with a probiotic. Most people find that their symptoms improve and in many cases they disappear altogether.