Emulsifiers and the Rise of Obesity
When you look at the labels of processed foods, you might see more than a few ingredients that aren’t in your kitchen cabinets.
Emulsifiers are added to products like ice cream, salad dressings, and baked goods to keep oils and fats from separating and to make them last longer. But recent research has found that some emulsifiers – such as carrageenan, polyglycerols, lecithin, xanthan, and polysorbate 80 – can harm the gut microbiota, leading to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and metabolic syndrome.
Despite the FDA allowing emulsifiers, they might not be good for our immune systems. Andrew Gewirtz, a biology professor at Georgia State University, believes that the increase in metabolic-related health issues is not just due to genetics but also to “modern additions to the food supply.” Gewirtz and his team studied mice and discovered that emulsifiers can cause ongoing inflammation by altering the microbiota.
Emulsifiers can mess with our hunger signals, causing us to eat too much and contributing to obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. While they aren’t the only cause of these health issues, they can play a part. Additionally, the FDA doesn’t fully test many food additives, including emulsifiers. That’s why it’s important to carefully read labels and make informed choices about what we eat.