Carrageenan — A Troublemaker!

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Concern about the potential for carrageenan to promote inflammation (such as arthritis and IBS) or to cause dysbiosisis is becoming more prevalent in mainstream news, but it is not new to those of us in the functional medicine world. Carrageenan, a gum derived from red seaweed, is an additive used to thicken, emulsify, and preserve foods and drinks — often found in nut milks, meat products, and yogurt. In vegan and vegetarian products it may be used it to replace the animal product gelatin.

Even if you avoid carrageenan, be aware that there are other gums in our foods and beverages as well: xanthan and guar gums (the most common additives in foods) plus locust bean gum (carob gum), gellen gum, cellulose gum, and tara gum ( a newcomer). Guar, tara, gellen, and locust bean (carob) gum are all safe in small amounts for most people. Tara gum has a perfect safety record in the research so far, although these results are only in animal studies. Locust bean gum is being researched for pharmaceutical use and is well tolerated by full term infants with reflux. While these other gums are generally well tolerated, people on the GAPS, SCD diets and those with IBS, SIBO or candida should avoid ALL gums to control symptoms, to avoid possibly inflaming a healing gut, and to avoid any long term effects on gut flora.

"red seaweed" by jude hill is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Julie Freeman