There is some evidence that Carrageenan, an ingredient often found in store bought almond milk, as well as other processed foods, laxatives, medications and even certain toothpastes may produce an inflammatory response in the intestines. Some researchers even report it as a possible carcinogen.
As of yet the majority of the research has been limited to animal studies. But a review of these studies raises major concerns of the potentially harm this common food additive can have. It is important to note that the effects differ significantly between species but that some of these harmful effects include intestinal inflammation, lesions, ulcerations and malignant tumors.
Carageenan comes from red seaweed and is mostly used as a binding or thickening agent in liquids; preventing separation and improving texture. This product, though natural, can be altered into a different form, poligeenan. Poligeenan or degraded Carigeenan is what has been found to be the most dangerous form of this additive though some studies have also found a correlation between inflammation and non degraded carigeenan.
One recent study (on mice) suggests that Carigeenan, when part of a high fat diet, may increase blood sugar problems and heighten the potential for diabetes.
Another study (on humans this time) did show an immune response of inflammation when given carrageenan. Though many more human trials are necessary to determine whether their is a causal effect and if so, just how serious it is, it seems worthwhile to stear clear of Carigeenan when possible.
There are almond milk brands out there that do not use carrageenan as a thickening agent. I use Natura’s unsweetened, fortified version. Or if you prefer to make your own, there are plenty of easy recipes that take out all unnecessary additives, here is one that I like.
As for all other processed foods that us Carageenan, maybe just try and cut back on as many of these as possible. Besides this particular additive, there is plenty else to be avoiding in frozen pizzas, prepared shakes, deli meats and other processed goods. Otherwise just scan the label and see if you have an option without Carageenan. The less ingredients the better!
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