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I agree that my wording was vague, and have modified the initial post to say simply that I rarely use xanthan gum. I have also changed post #6 to say that xanthan gum is used "routinely" rather than "indiscriminately." While I do suspect that many gluten-free recipes call for xanthan gum in a rather knee-jerk fashion, my intended point was that it's present in virtually every gluten-free bread, cake, cookie, etc.
And it's used in such small amounts that it's even unlikely to add any nutritional value. It's merely a thickening agent. And it's not used just in gluten-free products, it's in all kinds of prepared foods and other products.
Someone with unexplained problems might want (after ruling out the more obvious offenders such as gluten, dairy, etc.) to try avoiding xanthan gum for a while, to see whether they might be one of the people who react to it.
My specific reasons for avoiding xanthan gum, and the specific reactions that I may (or may not) have to it, are really not relevant. (I mentioned them only as examples.) And I realize that many people use xanthan gum on a regular basis without noticing problems.
Let's talk about corn for a minute. It's gluten-free and apparently well tolerated by most people, so it's frequently used in gluten-free foods. But many people do not tolerate corn, so there is a certain amount of caution regarding its use. That's why some companies advertise that their products are both gluten-free and corn-free.
All I'm saying is that there's some evidence that xanthan gum, like corn, is not well tolerated by a certain number of people. Unlike corn, xanthan gum is not such an obvious suspect, because it tends to be far down on the list of ingredients. But because it's used in the great majority of gluten-free baked goods, anyone who continues to have problems, despite a gluten-free diet, might want to try avoiding xanthan gum for a while, to see if that helps.
Right, that's the site. But, as you point out, not only can information be contributed by anyone, it can also be edited/corrected by anyone. From what I've seen, the incorrect stuff doesn't tend to last long. As with anything on the Internet, it pays to exercise your own good judgement.
Here's a link to their Xanthan Gum page.
And here is a link to the page cited by that "" footnote. The part that I find most interesting is the comments that have been added by others, many of whom have reactions to xanthan gum.
My reason for posting this thread in the first place is that xanthan gum is routinely used in gluten-free foods, both ready-made and home-made. It's generally acknowledged that many celiacs have additional food intolerances. (And as one of the commenters (see previous paragraph) said, xanthan has a fairly short track record.) I would just hate to see someone conscientiously follow a gluten-free diet, and then wonder why they're still having problems -- when the culprit could be their gluten-free diet!
I can see that the definition of "gluten free" has to be practical.
But it seems to me that the label, in addition to saying "gluten free" if the product is below so many ppm, could also mention whether the product contains any gluten-type ingredients (even if in very small/trace amounts), for the benefit of any extra-sensitive individuals.
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen (except for those wonderful companies that specifically cater to the gluten-free community), for two reasons: First, an ingredient that was derived from corn or potatoes yesterday could be derived from wheat or barley tomorrow, due to the manufacturer switching suppliers, or the suppliers switching raw ingredients. And second, the list of gluten trace ingredients would scare off some people who would otherwise have taken the "gluten free" label at face value, and would have bought the product for that reason.
On the other hand, if a company's "gluten free" products get the reputation of causing reactions, some people will be scared to buy *any* of their products, even those that happen to be, in fact, gluten free. The question is, would the company lose more business than they had gained by not pointing out their gluten ingredients?
I just ran across the following in Wikipedia's entry for Xanthan Gum:
I don't often use xanthan gum, and on the rare occasions when I do ingest it, there are generally a few other miscellaneous additives present as well -- but as near as I can tell, it makes me feel thirsty, weepy, and/or edgy. It's nice to know it's not just me!
Nikki -- maybe we can figure out what the problem is. I certainly don't expect or want you to post your actual email address (the one that you couldn't use), but could you describe it? How many characters is it, total? What punctuation marks does it contain (other than the @ sign and some dots)? Is there anything at all unusual about it?
Second Update: I finally got up nerve enough to go to "My Controls" and try changing to my preferred email address -- and it worked! I still don't know exactly what the registration software didn't like, but obviously the address-change software doesn't have the same quirk.
So if you're having a mysterious problem with getting registered -- the software gives everything a green check-mark, but when you click on the final button to register, you just get kicked right back to the registration page -- try entering a different email address. And if you don't want to continue using the substitute address for this forum, there's a good chance that you'll be able to change to your preferred address later.
Hi, Larissa. Hey, you're ahead of me -- I expect to get my blood-test results in about a week.
Here's a thread that I found shortly after I joined, that has been a tremendous help: Recently Diagnosed, A list of products that are ok?. Instructions of how to get the Delphi list are in post #4. There's lots of other basic info in the thread as well.
Rachel -- You're also fairly close to Lafayette (well, closer than I am, anyhow!), so you might want to check out the Indiana Gluten Intolerance Support Team. From what I hear, they're a very friendly, very active group.
I'm in Indiana, but thought you folks in NC might be interested in the Triangle Gluten Intolerance Group. I know very little about the group, having run across their web site in the course of a Google search. I did email them recently, and the webmaster got right back to me with a thorough answer, so they really do exist! Apparently they meet a couple of times per year, but you have to be on their email list in order to get the notices.
I just got this reply from Miso Master regarding their Chickpea Miso, as well as their other non-barley misos:
In response to your question about gluten and Chickpea miso:
We developed the Miso Master Chickpea Miso with folks in mind who have soy allergy, using chickpeas instead of soybeans, but it is also beneficial for folks who must avoid gluten, since the starter culture is grown on rice. Ingredients are: Organic whole chickpeas, organic handmade rice koji, sun dried sea salt, Blue Ridge Mtn well water, koji spores.
All our misos, with the exception of Country Barley Miso and Mellow Barley Miso, are gluten free as far as the ingredients go. They contain soybeans (except for Chickpea miso, which is soy-free), and a starter called koji, which is grown on rice. The name of the miso denotes the grain on which the koji is grown, therefore Brown Rice miso is actually made from soybeans, koji grown on brown rice, water and salt. In the case of the barley misos, the koji is grown on barley. After the grain is cultured by the koji, it is mixed with the cooked soybeans and placed in large wooden barrels to undergo natural fermentation, resulting in the finished miso.
We do make the barley miso in the same facility as the other miso, however the rice-koji misos and the barley-koji misos are fermented in separate barrels and all the equipment is thoroughly cleaned between uses and maintained to the highest standards. Because the barley miso is made in the same facility as the others, we cannot guarantee there is no cross-contamination, but make every effort to insure there is none.
Well, their web site (Miso Master Chickpea Miso) lists the following ingredients: Organic chickpeas, Organic partially polished brown rice, sun-dried sea salt, well water.
As has already been mentioned, there is the question of trace ingredients in the koji, as well as possible traces of barley miso left in the wooden vats. But the ingredients are both soy-free and gluten-free.
I've been wondering about miso myself, so it's great to see that there's a current thread!
My all-time favorite brand is Miso Master. Their products are utterly delicious, all-organic, and made in the traditional Japanese way. As long as you stay away from their Barley Miso, their products are free from any overt gluten ingredients. HOWEVER, they are aged in large wooden vats, and (as has has often been discussed on this and other celiac forums) it's hard-going-on-impossible to clean all of the gluten out of wood. So unless they have one or more dedicated vats for each flavor, no one could really say for sure whether (or not) there is any barley residue in their nominally non-barley misos.
I have emailed them, and will post their reply here.
I have used their Chickpea Miso, by the way, and really liked it. The flavor is similar to any pale-colored miso. It makes a really good "chicken" broth.