Are you eating emulsifiers? Chances are yes, and a lot of them! Scan the food label of any processed food in the grocery store or your pantry, and you are bound to find one of these emulsifier ingredients: polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, xanthan, cellulose gum, and other gums. These chemicals are used to alter the texture, keep oils from separating, and extend the shelf life of products, but that's not all they were found to do.
Recently, several mice studies found these ingredients may be contributing to the rise of obesity, metabolic syndrome (obesity, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease), and inflammatory bowel disease. Mice with abnormal immune systems fed emulsifiers developed chronic colitis; mice with impaired immune systems development intestinal inflammation. This inflammatory response disrupts the satiety response, or the “okay body I’m full, STOP eating response," causing over-eating, which ultimately leads to weight gain, obesity, and sugar dysregulation.
Another study investigating carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) and polysorbate-80 (P80), showed that these chemicals changed the gut bacteria of mice leading to behavior changes. Male mice showed an increase in anxious behavior, while female mice showed a reduction in social behavior.
But why is this happening? It is known that changes in gut bacteria cause intestinal inflammation. This inflammation tells local immune cells to produce signaling molecules that affect tissues locally and in other areas of the body, like the brain. Thus, any disruptions to the gut microbiome, whether it be via these chemicals, antibiotics, stress, infections, chronic diseases, or poor nutrition can cause a cascade of physical and emotional symptoms.
If you are suffering from weight gain, inflammation, anxiety, or any gastrointestinal symptom, it's imperative to heal the gut. You can start by eliminating all processed and packaged foods. Try to avoid foods that have the emulsifiers mentioned above; check those food labels. Some of the high food culprits are ice-cream, low-fat products, margarine, salad dressing, and creamy sauces, bread, baked goods, chocolate, and processed meats.
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