Acacia fiber -- also called acacia gum or gum Arabic -- comes from the gum (sap) of the Acacia Senegal tree, a legume plant native to India, Africa, and other tropical or subtropical regions.
The acacia tree has been around since at least 2650 BC, when ancient Egyptians harvested the sap of the acacia for food. They also used its sap (gum) to make bandages for mummies.1aLike ancient Egypt, other cultures discovered the versatile uses of the acacia tree and its acacia fiber.
Uses of Acacia Fiber
Gum arabic is a natural prebiotic and a rich source of soluble fiber. Due to its natural binding (emulsifying) properties, acacia fiber is often used for industrial purposes. For instance, it's often used in the production of ink, ceramics, stamps and envelopes (for the adhesive), cosmetics, and more.
Being an excellent source of dietary soluble fiber, acacia is also used in the diet to support health and to help treat or prevent digestive disorders, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and other conditions.1b
Importance of Dietary Fiber In Acacia
Though the benefits of acacia fiber haven't been extensively studied, the health-promoting properties of soluble fiber have long been documented. In fact, multiple clinical studies suggest that it may offer a host of health and wellness benefits.
Well...let's discuss the value of dietary fiber for a minute
Dietary fiber is found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Insoluble fiber is a type of resistant starch that can't be broken down by the digestive process. Consequently, it is left intact as food moves through the digestive system. Insoluble fiber helps clear the body of toxins and supports digestive and bowel health.
By contrast, soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance inside the digestive system. It is digested (fermented) by beneficial bacteria in the lower colon, which helps support gut health. In addition to providing digestive benefits, soluble fiber may also help prevent or treat many health conditions.
Acacia is a rich source of healthy soluble fiber and should be a part of your diet.
Is Acacia Fiber A Prebiotic?
Yes, acacia fiber is a prebiotic.
Gut health depends upon a diverse flourishing microbiome, and adding more fiber to your diet can help. You see, fiber feeds the good bacteria, helping them grow and flourish. Acacia fiber specifically promotes the growth of certain beneficial gut bacteria -- especially Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli-- known to support gut and bowel health. It also nourishes the type of beneficial bacteria that produce gut-healing short-chain fatty acids.
Many studies indicate that prebiotics support a healthy digestive system, as you'll see in the next section.
Health Benefits of Acacia Fiber
Here are just a few of the scientifically backed benefits of health benefits of acacia fiber.
May Lower Cholesterol Levels
Having high cholesterol is one of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, numerous studies suggest that acacia and other foods rich in soluble fiber may lower cholesterol levels, thus reducing this risk.
For example, during a 1999 meta-analysis, researchers examined 67 controlled trials examining the cholesterol-lowering effects of various soluble fibers. Based on the these studies, researchers concluded that soluble fiber intake appeared to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol in test subjects.2a
In addition, acacia fiber itself has been studied in regards to potential cholesterol-lowering benefits. For instance, a review of research studies on gum arabic suggested that it may lower plasma cholesterol levels in rats.2b
May Balance Blood Sugar Levels
Uncontrolled blood glucose levels can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are associated with many other health conditions like heart disease and chronic kidney disease. Overconsumption of processed carbs -- e.g. sugary foods, white bread, potatoes -- is a key factor in blood sugar spikes. This is because processed carbs contain little or no fiber to slow digestion. As a result, a large amount of glucose is dumped into the bloodstream at one time.
Preliminary research indicates that acacia fiber may help lower blood sugar levels. In a 1985 study, for instance, researchers observed a significant decrease in plasma glucose and serum insulin levels 90 minutes after giving test subjects 20 grams of gum acacia.3 Another study published online in the journalNutrition(2021) showed similar results.4
Supports Digestive Health
Acacia is an amazing fiber that can do amazing things for your digestive health. You see, increasing your intake of acacia and other soluble fibers can support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can balance the microbiome. As previously mentioned, soluble fiber is fermented by good bacteria in the colon. These bacteria then excrete butyrate, one of the short-chain fatty acids believed to offer many digestive health benefits. Studies show that butyrate may:
- Reduce inflammation in the gut. (This can help you recover from leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, and other gastrointestinal conditions.)5
- Soothe diarrhea symptoms6
- Balance gut microbiome, i.e., encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria7
- Reduce gas and bloating8
- Improve digestion9
- Support bowel health and inhibit tumor cell progression in the bowel, which may help defend against colon cancer.
Also, research indicates that acacia fiber rarely causes gas and bloating, even at higher amounts. This is because acacia ferments more slowly than other types of fiber, minimizing sudden gas explosions. Since acacia also appears to be gentle on the digestive system, there seems to be no downside to ingesting this type of dietary fiber!10
Assists With Weight Loss/Control
Acacia really shines when it comes to weight control. Studies indicate that acacia fiber may increase satiety, i.e., the feeling of being full. This can significantly decrease calorie intake helping with weight loss and weight control.11
Another study suggests that acacia fiber may significantly decrease body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage when consumed regularly, i.e., at least 6 weeks.12 Incidentally, this was a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which is considered to be the "gold standard" in scientific research. This means that the methods used in conducting this study met the highest scientific standards.
Side Effects of Acacia Fiber
Though acacia appears to be a healthy dietary choice that is gentle on the digestive system, it may still cause gas and intestinal distress for some people. For that reason, it’s a good idea to gradually increase your intake of acacia and other fiber foods. This will help minimize intestinal issues. Also, be sure to drink lots of water, as this is necessary for the soluble fiber to dissolve and provide all those health benefits mentioned earlier.
In addition, if you have a health condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, speak to your doctor before increasing your acacia fiber intake.
How Do I Consume Acacia Fiber?
The best way to add acacia fiber to your diet is to buy acacia powder. This powder dissolves easily in smoothies, broths, and soups. You may also sprinkle the powder over yogurt and other foods. However, it's important that you drink at least 8 ounces of water with acacia or any other source of fiber.
Where Can I Buy Acacia Fiber?
You can buy healthy acacia fiber dietary supplements at natural-health stores or online. It comes in powder, tablet, capsule, or gum form. The best way to buy acacia fiber, though, is to combine it with several other nutrient-rich powders to maximize its health-promoting properties. We’ve made it easy for you. Garden in my Glass features acacia fiber plus more than 30 superfood fruit and vegetable powders, all in one convenient cost-effective package, ready for you to add to your diet.Click here to learn more about Garden in my Glassand to place your order today while supplies last!
1a- Alland & Robert. Acacia gum: an important social, economic and environmental role for the southern sahel countries. Mar 14, 2017. Accessed Mar 24, 2021. https://www.multivu.com/players/uk/8051551-acacia-gum-southern-sahel-countries/
1b- WebMD. Acacia: Overview. Accessed Mar 24, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-268/acacia
2a- Brown L, Rosner B, Willett WW, Sacks FM, Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 69, Issue 1, January 1999, Pages 30–42, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/69.1.30
2b- Ali BH, Ziada A, Blunden G. Biological effects of gum arabic: a review of some recent research. Food Chem Toxicol. 2009;47(1):1-8. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2008.07.001
3- Sharma RD. Hypoglycemic effect of gum acacia in healthy human subjects. Nutrition Research. Volume 5, Issue 12, 1985, Pages 1437-1441, ISSN 0271-5317, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0271-5317(85)80054-3.
4- Jarrar AH, Stojanovska L, Apostolopoulos V, Feehan J, Bataineh MF, Ismail LC, Al Dhaheri AS. The Effect of Gum Arabic (Acacia senegal) on Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Adults at Risk of Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2021; 13(1):194. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13010194
5- Andoh A, Bamba T, Sasaki M. Physiological and anti-inflammatory roles of dietary fiber and butyrate in intestinal functions. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1999 Sep-Oct;23(5 Suppl):S70-3.
6- Velazquez, OC, Lederer HM, and Rombeau JL. Butyrate and the colonocyte. Production, absorption, metabolism, and therapeutic implications. Adv Exp Med Biol 427: 123-134, 1997.
7- Juarez-Hernandez, E, Chavez-Tapia NC, Uribe M, and Barbero-Becerra VJ. Role of bioactive fatty acids in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Nutr J 15: 72, 2016.
8- Zaleski, A, Banaszkiewicz A, and Walkowiak J. Butyric acid in irritable bowel syndrome. Prz Gastroenterol 8: 350-353, 2013.
9- Zaleski, A, Banaszkiewicz A, and Walkowiak J. Butyric acid in irritable bowel syndrome. Prz Gastroenterol 8: 350-353, 2013.
10- Princeton Nutrients Staff. Why Acacia Fiber Is Amazing for Your Gut. Princeton Nutrients Blog. Mar 28, 2017. Accessed Feb 12, 2021. https://princetonnutrients.com/blog/acacia-fiber/
11- Calame W, Thomassen F, Hull S, Viebke C, Siemensma AD. Evaluation of satiety enhancement, including compensation, by blends of gum arabic. A methodological approach. Appetite. 2011 Oct;57(2):358-64. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.06.005. Epub 2011 Jun 12. PMID: 21683750.
12- Babiker R, Merghani TH, Elmusharaf K, Badi RM, Lang F, Saeed AM. 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. Nutr J. 2012;11:111. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-111