Acacia gum, also known as gum arabic, is a type of soluble fiber sourced, free from color and odor.
It is a complex mixture of polysaccharides and glycoproteins and is the original source of the ribose and sugars arabinose, both of which were first discovered and isolated from it.
Originally, it was collected from Acacia nilotica which was called the „Gum arabic tree”. Nowadays, it is mostly collected from two related species, namely Vachellia (Acacia) seyal and Senegalia (Acacia) Senegal.
The wood of the acacia tree, native to parts of Pakistan, Africa, and India, is known for its strength, inelasticity, and durability.
It is moist and quickly growing sapwood makes it a desirable wood for railway embankments. It would not be entirely inaccurate to think of that this tree as a tree-sized, woody, spiny bean.
This plant is part of the family Mimosacaea, that is a close cousin of the legumes as well as it is related to the mimosas of the southern US. It has been considered as a safe dietary fiber by the US FDA since the 1970s.
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It is generally accepted as a food additive in many countries, known by its official name as E414.
It is a key ingredient in traditional lithography and is used in paint production, printing, glue, cosmetics, and many industrial applications, including viscosity control in inks and in textile industries, though less costly materials compete with it for many of these roles.
It is an essential ingredient in shoe polish and can be used in making homemade incense cones. Also, is also used as an adhesive, for example on postage stamps, envelopes, and cigarette papers.
E414 is also utilized by the food and drug industries as an emulsifying agent because it helps hold mixtures together when they usually wouldn’t blend well.
This compound can also be found in pills and cough syrups. It’s also an ingredient in many snack foods and sweets, like marshmallows and gumdrops, as well as in some traditional Arabic desserts.
In addition, it can be easily added to a soup or smoothie, without altering the texture or taste.
It also poses some health benefits due to its soluble fiber content.
For example, individuals who ingested 30 grams of this compound per day for one a half month, have a lower body mass index, according to a 2012 study issued in the “Nutrition Journal.”
Interesting Facts of E414
In 1997, when the United States government brought sanctions against Sudan, the world’s biggest producer of the gum arabic, for giving refuge to Islamic terrorists, lobbyists protested and as an outcome, the only product exempt from an export ban was acacia gum.
The United States said such a ban would have hurt the country’s food industry.
The Egyptians used it as a fixative for ink and to coat the bandages of mummies. This plant is repeatedly mentioned in ancient Egyptian inscriptions.
Side Effects of Acacia Gum (Gum Arabic)
The common side effects of acacia fiber are bloating, gas and loose stools. Less commonly, it can cause allergic reactions, such as conjunctivitis and rhinitis.
In 2018, there were more than 17.9 million American adults diagnosed with some type of allergic reaction.
It should also be used with extreme caution in persons who are on medication for respiratory diseases, as the E414 when used in conjunction may trigger off an allergic reaction.
Any signs of eruptions on the skin, rashes, wheezing or asthmatic attacks should be promptly treated.
The fiber content of E414 also interferes with the proper absorption of drugs taken in oral form. It is recommended to take this plant at least 4 hours prior or after taking Amoxicillin.
Further, it should be avoided when the person is on a prescription of drugs containing tannin. This is because the tannins present in the plant may lead to oesophageal and oral cancer when taken along with other medication.
Arabic gum is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women. It is considered to interact with iron-containing supplements and some drugs may even trigger off an allergic reaction.
This can have adverse effects on the well-being of a pregnant woman. Thus, acacia is best avoided during pregnancy.
The plant might interact with your medication and create complications.
So, it is important for you to consult your physician before consumption of E414, in case you are under any form of medicines, particularly for high LDL cholesterol or respiratory problems of high blood pressure.
In addition, a moderate additional hypotensive effect may be observed with the concomitant use of E414 and anti-hypertensive drugs.
A good substitute for this food additive is the Q-Naturale emulsifier, that can be used in juices, iced teas, fortified waters, and herb-based drinks, and coffee.