Should You Avoid Carrageenan?

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There’s a lot of controversy over carrageenan. Should humans be consuming this substance or not? I want to break it down for you right here and now so you can educate yourself and put this one to rest.

Early in my journey back to health, I was still addicted to sugar. One day, at the grocery store, I discovered ice cream made with coconut milk. After an evening gobbling that up, my gut was ailing. It wasn’t clear why at first but after doing a little research, I found it was the lone ingredient, carrageenan. Come to find out, it’s a natural diuretic.

Where do you find it?

Carrageenan is everywhere from milk, yogurt, deli meat, coconut milk and baby formula to toothpaste. You’ll even find it in your health supplements! One might assume that by the sheer volume of this additive found in health foods and supplements that it’s good for you. You can go ahead and rule it out as a health food now. There are side effects with this additive, folks with a history of GI issues will not have pleasant reactions.

There’s been an ever-increasing number of approved additives making it into our certified organic products. Currently, there are almost 300 non-organic and synthetic compounds approved for use in organic farming or food production.

The integrity of the organic standard has been compromised. Mark Kastel, co-director and Senior Farm Policy Analyst at the Cornucopia Institute writes,

… It seems evident that the people doing the supposedly careful scientific reviews and approving these chemicals have mostly been affiliated with the same corporate agribusinesses and the same food producers that are lobbying for their use,” (1)

Mark even goes as far to say there’s an Organic Watergate happening. So many agribusinesses have infiltrated and you cannot trust it. Even so, it’s still a safe bet to start with the organic symbol but you MUST still look at the ingredients within the product.

What is Carrageenan?

Red Algae – Carrageenan

Like most people in the industry, the initial belief was that carrageenan was natural and benign since it comes from seaweed. However, as it turns out, carrageenan is an inflammatory agent tied to serious intestinal disease and is even categorized as a “possible carcinogen.”

How did that get approved for use in organic foods?

Carrageenan is a derivative of red algae or seaweed. It’s been processed through an alkaline procedure which many have considered a “natural” food ingredient. However, if it’s processed via an acidic solution it becomes “degraded carrageenan” or poligeenan. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know which form is in food products. Current research shows that this additive can degrade in the body by itself and cause serious health issues. (2)

What is it used for?

There are two main reasons it is widely used for.

  1. Conventional Medicine: The acidic or “degraded” version is used here as a laxative. (3)
  2. Food Additive: Primarily used as a thickener and a binder. There’s no noticeable taste or smell to it so it very useful for food manufacturers.

It’s almost impossible to find a product that doesn’t have this additive in America. Most other countries have banned it, but not ours.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that this substance controversial. Even studies on rats proved to increase cancer by four times. The dosage is unknown but the point is, it’s can be a dangerous substance in large enough doses. This is why my standard is to not allow any of it into my body. I believe that health comes from eating real food and that additives degrade the quality of food. Additives, preservatives, along with GMO’s and others are the reason our country is so sick and riddled with disease and obesity. It’s best to avoid products that contain any form of carrageenan.

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The Cornucopia Institute has done rigorous studies on this topic and has also produced a good list of foods to buy and to avoid. Click here to view.

References:

  1. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/20/kastel-organic-foods.aspx
  2. http://www.cornucopia.org/2013/12/carrageenan-risks-reality/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-710-carrageenan.aspx?activeingredientid=710&activeingredientname=carrageenan