Mostly people are uncommonly know about Arabic gum. What is actually arabic gum? Arabic gum is a dried edible gummy exudates from which derived from the stems and branches of Acacia species plant such as Acacia senegal , Acacia laeta and Acacia seyal . Those three plant species grow abundantly in Central Sudan, Central Africa and West Africa. Arabic gum rich in soluble fiber. It is also the most large number of gum that widespread and being used nowadays. The color may vary from pale to orange brown.
Arabic gum is commonly used in some food and pharmaceutical industry as emulsifier and stabilizer. You may found some food like toffee and caramel contains some amount of Arabic gum which in those food acts as emulsifier. If you wonder where jelly gets fibrous, fruit-like texture then you should know that it comes from Arabic gum.
Arabic gum is known well can increase the soluble fiber in some low-calorie food and dietetic beverage. Almost 80% of Arabic gum supply which used in factory came from the gum of A.
Senegal plant and the the remain 20% is provide by both A. Seyal and A. laeta. The gum which produced by A. senegal is usually called “hard gum” while gum derived from A. seyal called as “flaky gum”. They also have other name that being used as trade name such as “hashab gum” for gum from A. senegal name and “talha hum” from A. seyal
Arabic gum has been used by people in ancient time. The word Arabic gum came from the term which was coined by European merchants who bought and imported this gum from Arabic countries such as Jeddah and Alexandria. It is also one of important stuff in ancient Egyptian culture. Arabic gum used to secure the bandages during mummification.
Egyptian called Arabic gum as “kami”. This gum was also used to create the color or pigment of hieroglyph painting. Some Sudanese researchers also mentioned that the word “manna” in Qur’an ( Surat Al baqarah ) refer to arabic gum. It was mentioned there that manna is best food that is available for man.
Not only in holy book of Qur’an, in other holy book Torah, it is found that Arabic gum is an essential food and has designated by Moses to the God-given bread of Israeli people.
Nowadays there are almost 900 species of Acacia plants which are capable to produce arabic gum. Most of the plant can only live in tropical climates such as Africa. This is why Africa become major producer of arabic gum in the world. The use of arabic gum is decreased nowadays since human found other structure which can replace arabic gum. Those are cellulose and modified starch.
Even so, arabic gum still used as emulsifier, adhesive and suspending agent and binder in demulcent syrup and tabletting. Not only used in food an pharmacheutical production, arabic gum also used in cosmetic manufacture.
Arabic gum as an exudate of Acacia plant is a natural composite polysaccharide. The structure divided into three fraction, those are :
- major fraction of arabic gum. This fraction contains galactose backbone which linked by arabibose and rhamnose and terminate in glucuronic acid. Glucuronic acid can be found in nature as potassium, magnesium, and calcium salt
- smaller fraction contains arabinogalactan-protein complex and glucoronic acid
- smallest fraction which has the highest protein content or glycoprotein. This glycoprotein structure is composed by different amino acids composition
Amino acid content in gum Arabic obtained from A.senegal
Aminoacid (nmol/mg) GA % Aminoacid
Hydroxyproline 54.200 0.711
Serine 28.700 0.302
Threonene 15.900 0.208
Proline 15.600 0.180
Leucine 15.100 0.198
Histidine 10.700 0.166
Aspartic acid 10.600 0.141
Glutamic acid 8.290 0.122
Valine 7.290 0.085
Phenylalanine 6.330 0.105
Lysine 5.130 0.075
Alanine 5.070 0.045
Isoleucine 2.380 0.031
Tyrosine 2.300 0.042
Arginine 2.120 0.037
Methionine 0.110 0.002
Cysteine 0.000 0.000
Tryptophan 0.000 0.000
Source: (Mariana et al., 2012)
Benefits of Arabic Gum could use for many part of body. Arabic gum as soluble fiber may contributes benefits to human health. Below are the list of benefits that you can get from Arabic gum :
1. Promotes good digestion
The first health Benefits of Arabic Gum is for promotes good digestion. Arabic gum contains high amount of soluble fiber which can help digestion tract function and ease the bowel movement. A study also reported that the fiber in Arabic gum can increase intestinal absorption.
2. Alleviate constipation
Constipation is a condition which cause by unhealthy bowel movement. As mentioned before that Arabic gum promotes good digestion, it may also help to alleviate constipation by improving bowel movement.
3. Strengthen Immune system
Fiber contained in Arabic gum is consider as pro biotic. It is a substance which can promotes the growth of good bacteria or normal flora inside the gut. The good bacteria or normal flora will later fight and suppress the growth of pathogen bacteria. This may help immune system to work better.
4. Control blood sugar
Studies reported that fiber has important role in the management of blood glucose. As part of food, fiber is not digested and it doesn’t require insulin to break it down. This may explain why eating a lot of fiber will not increase your blood sugar level.
5. Lowering cholesterol lever
Fiber in Arabic gum is effective in lowering cholesterol level. The soluble fiber will attach and bind the cholesterol so it wont be absorbed by intestine. Later the cholesterol will be brought out of the body through excretion system.
6. Get rid of sore throat
Arabic gum is one ingredients which is present in cough syrup and lozenges. Arabic gum contains component which can relieve irritation especially in the mucosa layer of respiration tract especially in mouth and throat.
7. Keep healthy teeth
Have you heard that chewing gum can help you to maintain healthy teeth? Yes, it is not a hoax. Arabic gum contains some amount of anti-bacteria which can prevent the growth of bacteria in mouth that may cause gum bleeding and tooth decay.
8. Help in weight loss
Fiber is popular in weight loss management. It can make you feel full for longer time and prevent you to eat more by adding bulk to your stomach. Fiber also blocking fat absorption and it is a good news that Arabic gum provide this benefits.
9. Fight oxidative stress
Study reported that Arabic gum contains antioxidant which can help to fight free radicals. Those free radicals is the main cause of oxidative strees which lead to damage of cells and organ even further can cause cancer.
10. Improve kidney function
Arabic gum is also used in medication purpose such as renal therapy. Study by Al Mosawi in 2004 show that dietary supplementation of fiber in Arabic gum may reduce the need of dialysis in children who suffer End Stage Renal Disease ( ESRD )
11. Protect liver
Fiber contained in Arabic gum has hepatoprotection effect that may help protect liver by prevent lipid or fat cell attach to the liver. Study also reported that Arabic gum is considered used in treatment of chronic liver disease since it can improve the function of kupfer cells and help liver to detoxify body.
12. Cure diarrhea
According to a study, Arabic gum may has potential effect to inhibit the growth of S. Aureus bacteria which known as the cause of diarrhea.
Having Arabic gum as supplement is still uncommon and there is no suggestion to take arabic gum as food supplementation. The excessive usage of Arabic gum may cause several health problem. Sander et al found that Arabic gum may cause allergy and trigger the reaction such as shortness of breath, runny nose, itchy skin, red eye and other allergic reaction. This is based on the experience of pharmaceutical industry worker who was exposed to dust of Arabic gum in the factory.