Gum Arabic (GA) is derived from exudates from the stems and branches of Acacia senegal or Acacia seyal trees. It consists of a mixture of polysaccharides (major component) plus oligosaccharides and glycoproteins, but its composition can vary with its source, climate and soil. It readily dissolves in water to form solutions characterized by low viscosity. This allows its use in various applications. It is used as an emulsifier, thickening agent and flavor stabilizer in both the pharmaceutical and food industries. It is also used in textile, pottery and cosmetics industries. The US Food and Drug Administration consider Gum Arabic (GA) as one of the safest dietary fibres.
It is indigestible to both humans and animals, not degraded in the intestine, but fermented in the colon to give short-chain fatty acids, leading to a large range of possible health benefits. One of these benefits is its prebiotic effect. It has been claimed that four week supplementation with Gum Arabic (10 g/day) led to significant increases in Bifidobacteria, Lactobacteria, and Bacteriodes indicating a prebiotic effect. Other effects include reduction in plasma cholesterol level in animals and humans, anticarcinogenic effect and anti-oxidant effect with a protective role against hepatic and cardiac toxicities. Regular intake of 30 gm /day GA for six weeks resulted in significant reduction in BMI and body fat percentage.1
For centuries gum arabic has been used as an oral hygiene substance by many communities in the Middle East and North Africa. Also its anti-inflammatory properties were taken advantage of in folk medicine, where it was used internally to treat inflammation of intestinal mucosa and externally to cover inflamed skin. Gum arabic has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory capacity in patients with chronic kidney disease.2
- Effects of gum Arabic ingestion on body mass index and body fat percentage in healthy adult females: two-arm randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind trial
- Effect of Gum Arabic on Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Adenine–Induced Chronic Renal Failure in Rats