What is Xanthan Gum & why is it in almost every processed food I see?

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Being conscious of what you put into your body requires reading labels and ingredients in all products. I’ve always read the “Xanthan gum” part of ingredients and been like, “hmm..this is in so many foods that it must be safe.” I never read too much into it, but after learning that msg has 50 different names, gmo corn can be found in many things as high fructose corn syrup, etc. I decided to do a quick search. Here’s what I found:

So what’s it for? Xanthan gum is a thickening and stabilizing agent used in foods, cosmetics, toothpaste and medicines to name a few. It can also lower blood sugar & cholesterol and stimulates the digestive tract (source). If you are gluten free, use store bought salad dressing, or use anything that needs to remain thickened or mixed, chances are you are consuming this on a regular basis. 

In scientific terms: xanthan gum is a polysaccharide secreted by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris (source). I get that we need to thicken foods or keep them mixed nicely, but seriously who was the first person to recognize that a certain kind of bacteria’s waste that produces rot on vegetables could be a useful sugar we could add in almost any food? So strange to me haha. 

Xanthan gym is derived from corn, wheat or soy and is usually only less than .5% of the product weight. According to FDA regulations, Organic products need only be 95% organic to carry the “USDA organic” seal. This makes me think then that our organic processed foods could still have some gmo ingredients from these little emulsifiers perhaps? I don’t know just something to consider as I thought “organic” meant 100% organic. 

So should you avoid it? If you are allergic to corn, wheat or soy then yes. I haven’t found any scientific studies that prove it to be harmful. However with most things we manipulate in a lab, add to foods and consume on a large scale, I would be careful. I have decided not to worry about it since it is in such small quantities. You gotta pick your battles, right? 
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