More about gum additives in food

I consume a lot of almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk and yogurt. These are supposed to be wholesome and nutritious foods but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find brands without gum additives of some sort or another. Recently I noticed that the Blue Diamond almond milk  that I’ve been using names “carrageenan” as an ingredient. That led me to do some additional research. What i found is not good news. Here is an excerpt of what I found on Doctor Andrew Weil’s website:

Over the years Dr. Tobacman has published 18 peer-reviewed studies that address the biological effects of carrageenan and is convinced that it is harmful to human health. In April 2012, she addressed the National Organic Standards Board on this issue and urged reconsideration of the use of carrageenan in organic foods.

In her presentation, Dr. Tobacman said that her research has shown that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.

Dr. Tobacman also told the board that in the past, drug investigators actually used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. And she reported further that when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes.

She maintains that both types of carrageenan are harmful and notes that “degraded carrageenan inevitably arises from higher molecular weight (food grade) carrageenan.” Research suggests that acid digestion, heating, bacterial action and mechanical processing can all accelerate degradation of food-grade carrageenan.

All told, I recommend avoiding regular consumption of foods containing carrageenan. This is especially important advice for persons with inflammatory bowel disease.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

EDIT: Here’s an additional article I recently discovered that provides some further food for thought.and guidance:
Does Any Company Still Make All-Natural Ice Cream without Gums or Stabilizers?


3 responses to “More about gum additives in food

  1. I try to imagine all those food laboratories playing around with all kinds of additives and processes. Why? The economic gain must be marginal in most cases. I can understand preservatives. Maybe the additive industry has grown to become an economic force on its owh; a variation of the pharma industry. Additive sales persons promoting their products to processed food producers. Imagine the technology of “processing” and its industrial application in “processed” food. The Food-Industrial System.

    I never learned what GUM is – but I do see it a lot on labels.

  2. Tom, the gum additive to these product my be beneficial to those who have high blood nitrogen due to kidney disease. The gum carries this out thru the feces sparing the kidneys the work process.

    • Can you provide supporting documentation for that assertion? What about all the other effects that gums produce in both healthy and unhealthy people?
      Why have gum additives become so ubiquitous in the past couple years? Are they really necessary?

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