Carrageenan: It’s natural so why all the fuss?
Derived from red seaweed, carrageenan is a widely used additive that thickens food without adding fat—think soy, coconut and almond milk. It’s even found in ice cream, half-and-half and surprisingly deli meats. Carrageenan is allowed for use in organic products including organic pizzas and some cereal bars.
Carrageenan’s appeal is its unique chemical structure, which makes it a great stabilizer in foods. But its unique structure is also what causes an immune response in some people (namely the gut). Sounds benign, right? Well, maybe, but it is found in a plethora of processed products so many of us may be eating a lot of it.
Consuming foods that contain carrageenan can leave you bloated, with irritable bowel like symptoms and other “gut” issues. Even if you don’t experience symptoms immediately, prolonged use could lead to inflammation and other health issues down the road. Just by taking carrageenan out of the diet, gut-related problems can subside within just a few days. Now that’s relief!
So why is carrageenan allowed by the FDA? The FDA’s decisions are based on research, but when push comes to shove, research can be manipulated and tainted—be it from lobbyists or even just from a shortened study, research shows the results are often biased in favor of the manufacturers.
The bottom line: Don’t take “all natural” at face value. Do some research. Thanks to concerned consumers, the “pink slime” in McDonald’s beef products has been removed from the product—and there are many more successes just like this. Speak out. Be your own advocate. You can control what goes in your body. The power of wellness is in your own hands!
written by Laura Bushey, MAT, Certified Health Educator and Personal Holistic Chef with Kitchen of Life. To find out more helpful tips find us at: www.facebook.com/kitchenoflifewellness
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