Many of you are probably trying to do the right thing and are eating healthy organic, convenient foods such as yoghurts, cottage cheeses, nut milks, tofu to name but a few. It is also in many ice-creams and sadly (wait for it) some baby formulas! It is also used in personal care products such as toothpaste, body and face creams and deodorants.
Unfortunately, many of these foods contain carrageenan which is derived from highly processed seaweed and is used in “creamy” like foods to help give the food that “creamy” texture and feel in the mouth as well as to stop the ingredients in foods from separating. Food manufacturers worked out a long time ago, that we like that “creamy” feel in our mouth and are now flooding many products with it. It is used as an emulsifier, stabiliser and thickener in many supposedly healthy products. If you have ever made your own almond milk, you would know that the milk will separate and that you need to shake it before using it. Personally, I am much happier to make my own milk and shake it rather than consume foods containing carrageenan which is a carcinogenic!
What amazes me is that the science is there to prove that this ingredient is toxic and it has been banned in many countries including Canada, Greece, Austria, France and Germany and yet it is freely available in supposedly advanced countries such as Australia and the United States! See some of the footnotes below for scientific and medical studies into the harmful effects of carrageenan.
I don’t want readers to confuse carrageenan with its healthy cousin “Irish Moss” as Irish Moss plays a vital role in a vegetarian and particularly a raw-food lifestyle. Carrageenan and Irish Moss may both derive from seaweed but that is where any similarities end. Carrageenan is highly processed as the manufacturing process extracts the sulphated polysaccharides and then treats it with potassium hydroxide. The World Health Organisation lists the carrageenan found in many “healthy” foods as a possible human carcinogen as it degrades in the gastrointestinal tract and becomes a carcinogen that results in serious intestinal problems. 1 Carrageenan has been around for a long time and is even used as a laxative. The University of Iowa has also conducted studies into the link between carrageenan and tumors in the colon. 2 The Illinois College of Medicine has linked carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation which is a well-known precursor to serious diseases such as cancer and diabetes. 3
In short, everybody has an obligation to read the ingredients on the products they buy. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, don’t buy it! It’s that simple.
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