Carrageenan is an ingredient commonly found in many processed foods, including dairy products, infant formula and packaged meats. Although it has been used for centuries as a food thickener and stabilizer, recent medical studies have shown that carrageenan can cause inflammation of the digestive system when consumed by humans. This blog post will explore the dangers of consuming carrageenan and discuss its potential health risks. It will also provide references to medical studies that show how this ingredient may be harmful to our bodies.
What Is Carrageenan?
Carrageenan is a natural polysaccharide derived from red seaweed (Rhodophyta) species such as Eucheuma cottonii and Kappaphycus alvarezii. It has been used since antiquity as a gelling agent or emulsifier in food products such as ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, whipped cream, soy milk and other dairy substitutes. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) currently lists carrageenan as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS). However, there are some who believe that this common additive could be linked to several serious health issues.
Potential Health Risks of Carrageenan
The potential health risks associated with consuming carrageenan are mainly related to its chemical structure, which is made up of a highly sulfated galactose and 3-4 linked dioxide molecules. This can create an environment in the human digestive system that is conducive to inflammation—particularly for those with existing digestive problems. In addition, the high levels of sulfur found in carrageenan has been linked to an increased risk of developing a variety of gastrointestinal issues, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Carrageenan has also been linked to other health problems, such as bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.
A number of medical studies have also suggested that carrageenan may be a potential carcinogen, though further research is needed to confirm these findings. Additionally, animal studies conducted by the Cornucopia Institute have found that carrageenan consumption may lead to an increased risk of developing diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.
In addition to these potential risks, some studies have suggested that carrageenan may be linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. While more research is needed t confirm these findings, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to reduce exposure.
Carrageenan is a common food additive that has been used for centuries, but there are growing concerns about its safety. Studies have suggested that carrageenan may be linked to several serious health issues, including inflammation of the digestive system and an increased risk of developing diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. It has also been linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis among many other diseases. While further research is needed to confirm these findings, it’s important to understand how this ingredient may be harmful to our bodies. If you are concerned about the potential health risks associated with carrageenan, it may be wise to limit your consumption of foods that contain this ingredient.
Reducing Exposure to Carrageenan
The best way to limit your exposure to carrageenan is to check labels on food packaging and avoid consuming foods that contain this ingredient. This includes processed foods such as ice cream, yogurt, deli meats, and other processed snacks and beverages. Additionally, some personal care products such as toothpaste and lotions may also contain carrageenan, so it is important to read labels on these items as well. Neilson creams products in Canada and other creams are loaded with this stuff. If you drink Starbucks in Canada. You are consuming this if you add cream! Presidents Choice Ice Cream has it and many other products in Canada. It really is in everything!
There are several ways you can reduce your exposure to carrageenan. First, check ingredients labels on food packaging and avoid consuming foods that contain this ingredient. Secondly, some personal care products such as toothpaste, shampoo and lotion contain carrageenan as well. Read labels on these products too and avoid using them if they are present. Finally, if you drink coffee or tea from cafes like Starbucks, ask for it to be served without cream as it will likely contain added carrageenan.
According to a study published in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition journal, carrageenan consumption has been linked to an increased risk of intestinal inflammation and digestive issues (Helliwell et al., 2020). A separate study conducted by researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center found that carrageenan could cause changes to gene expression in the colon, leading to an increased risk of developing colitis and other gastrointestinal issues (Kabacoff et al., 2015).
Overall, it is important to limit your exposure to carrageenan as it may be linked to various health risks. By checking food labels and avoiding products containing carrageenan, you can help reduce your risk of developing potential issues associated with this ingredient. As with any other food product or ingredient, moderation is key or be smart and just avoid it and eat real food as humans did for thousands of years and avoided many of the man made diseases of the last 2 centuries.