If you have diabetes and are struggling to control
your blood sugar levels, you might try
adding a thickened drink with xanthan gum
after eating or adding gelatin to a single meal.
Researchers recently conducted a study, albeit only in rats,
but they did find that xantham gum changed the gene
expression in the gut, in turn, causing the rats to
have lower blood sugar levels after eating.
The finding is good news and could provide another
means for anyone with diabetes to cut their risk
factors for heart, kidney, and eye disease associated
with poor diabetes blood sugar control.
The study authors say more research is needed to
prove that xantham gum after eating would
have the same effect in humans as they found in rats,
and how the thickener would affect humans with diabetes.
How it worked in rats and might work in humans
There are two genes that are expressed in the gut
that are thought to be responsible for high glucose
levels or hyperglycemia. Patients with diabetes type 2
are often found to have an insufficient amount of the hormone
GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide1). GLP-1 plays a key role in
controlling appetite and blood sugar levels.
There are many diabetes drugs on the market that target Glp1 that do the job of slowing down digestion, increasing insulin production, and
slowing the release of sugar from the liver. One example is the commonly prescribed diabetes drug Glipizide. Another example is the drug Actos.
Xanthan gum is used in a variety of consumer products
as a thickener, including salad dressings, gelatin,
juices, fruit, syrup, cosmetics, and industrial and gluten-free products,
to name a few. It can also act as a laxative.
For the experiment, researchers fed gave two
groups of rodents glucose. One group was fed a
xantham-thickened liquid and the other was given saline.
Baseline and interval glucose readings were performed
on the rats, in addition to oral glucose tolerance
testing four weeks after the experiment was initiated.
The authors found that xantham gum changed the
bacteria in the gut which, in turn, altered gene expression
in the ileum of the intestines which affects Glp1
and Glp1r pathways.
Further investigation found enhanced metabolism
of fatty acids, glucose, and cholesterol balance.
The thickened liquid also appears to change bacteria
in the gut in a way that boosts the microbes Erysipelotrichales
and Christensenellaceae, which in turn helps the body secrete insulin.
If you’re considering adding the thickener to your daily routine
speak with your doctor. It’s possible that a liquid drink could
lower your blood sugar levels too much.
Taking more than 15 grams a day could lead to diarrhea.
One tablespoon of xanthan gum equals about 12 grams.
You can incorporate xanthan gum into your diet
in ways other than making a thickened drink.
You can make your own salad dressing, add it to gravy
and stews and use it in baked goods or for making a roux.
Another option to help lower your blood sugar level is gelatin.
Research has shown that gelatin also improves insulin
production as xanthan gum does, can satisfy hunger,
and stimulate the production of GLP-1. Gelatin is an animal
protein that also stimulates collagen production which
can improve the health of your hair, skin, and nails. It can also aid digestion.
Nagasawa, Y., et al. (2022) Xanthan gum-based
fluid thickener decreases postprandial blood glucose
associated with an increase of Glp1 and Glp1r expression in
ileum and alteration of gut microbiome.
Journal of Functional Foods. doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2022.105321.
Rubio IG, Castro G, Zanini AC, Medeiros-Neto G.
Oral ingestion of a hydrolyzed gelatin meal in subjects
with normal weight and in obese patients:
Postprandial effect on circulating gut peptides, glucose and insulin.
Eat Weight Disord. 2008 Mar;13(1):48-53. doi: 10.1007/BF03327784. PMID: 18319637.