New Study Confirms Problem With Common Food Additive

Researchers say thickener/stabilizer disrupts microbiome and may contribute to chronic inflammation As we begin to understand the relationship between the foods we eat and our overall health, the term “gut health” and “microbiome” have become increasingly more important in recent years. A study recently published in the journal Gastroenterology found that one additive widely used in processed foods “may be contributing to increased prevalence of an array of chronic inflammatory diseases by altering the gut microbiome and metabolome.” The additive, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) or cellulose gumm is thickener and stabilizer used in processed food products ranging from ice cream to crackers and non-food products like toothpaste and ice packs. It is widely used in low-fat and gluten-free products. The new study confirms previous findings published in 2017 in Frontiers in Pediatrics that raised similar issues with CMC. How Did we Get Here? Processed foods started entering the market around the beginning of the World War I and soon became a normal part of life. Sliced bread became a part of society around 1922, and due to improvements in manufacturing methods and food preservation technologies like canning and freezing, processed foods brought a new level of convenience. Meals did not have to take all day to make anymore which was important at the time. With women entering the workforce due to men being at war, these changes allowed them to work and still feed their families. Trends compelled by circumstance have continued till today, with processed foods giving way hyper-processed foods that are built around often problematic ingredients. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a processed food item as: “a covered commodity that has undergone specific processing resulting in a change in the character of the covered commodity, or that has been combined with at least one other covered commodity or other substantive food component. Specific processing steps that result in a change in the character of the covered commodity include cooking, curing, smoking, and restructuring.” Today, that restructuring often includes using ingredients like denatured seed oils and added sugars. These ingredients add flavor while extending shelf life but they come with a growing list of problems, research has revealed, including damaging gut health. What is Gut Health? There are few medical decisions as critical at what is at the end of your fork. Food can be medicine or poison, and your mind and body reveal which, often after years of poor eating have resulted in chronic disease. Yes, exercise and other healthy habits contribute to your health, but your body requires good food. Your body is made out of the complex phytonutrients that come from healthful food. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said over two thousand years ago, “all disease begins in the gut.” Hippocrates may have been right. The science of medicine has begun to confirm what ancient people knew, that the body is highly integrated, and diet, lifestyle, and mindset are critical to well being. Each bodily system is both dependent upon and supporting of others. We are learning that the food we eat has a much larger impact on our health than just being carbs, proteins, and fats. A vital component to health is our gut microbiome. And according to Erika Ebbel Angle, a noted expert on the gut microbiome, there are trillions of organisms living inside your digestive system, from bacteria to fungi and other cells. Their job it to take what you have eaten and extract every single nutrient possible from that food to keep your body functioning at its best. This microbiome is the primary host of your immune system, it creates hormones that function as neurotransmitters, and it affects ever aspect of health. The best way to understand its significance is to reframe your understanding of what it means to be a human being. In fact, you are an ecosystem, dependent on a rich and healthy diversity of all these symbiotic microorganisms. Research shows that having a healthy gut means you will get sick less often, have more energy, and even have better moods. Anxiety, depression, diabetes, and auto-immune conditions are all conditions that research is connecting to an unhealthy gut microbiome. Highly processed foods are having a negative effect on our health. (Hamza Nouasria/Unsplash) The Study Results The recently published study in Gastroenterology linked a single, prevalent food additive to significant negative alterations in the gut microbiome. A person is considered to have metabolic syndrome if they have any three of the following five conditions: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol, or high triglyceride levels. People with metabolic syndrome are at significantly higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. These researchers studied 16 healthy individuals

New Study Confirms Problem With Common Food Additive

Researchers say thickener/stabilizer disrupts microbiome and may contribute to chronic inflammation

As we begin to understand the relationship between the foods we eat and our overall health, the term “gut health” and “microbiome” have become increasingly more important in recent years.

A study recently published in the journal Gastroenterology found that one additive widely used in processed foods “may be contributing to increased prevalence of an array of chronic inflammatory diseases by altering the gut microbiome and metabolome.”

The additive, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) or cellulose gumm is thickener and stabilizer used in processed food products ranging from ice cream to crackers and non-food products like toothpaste and ice packs. It is widely used in low-fat and gluten-free products.

The new study confirms previous findings published in 2017 in Frontiers in Pediatrics that raised similar issues with CMC.

How Did we Get Here?

Processed foods started entering the market around the beginning of the World War I and soon became a normal part of life. Sliced bread became a part of society around 1922, and due to improvements in manufacturing methods and food preservation technologies like canning and freezing, processed foods brought a new level of convenience.

Meals did not have to take all day to make anymore which was important at the time. With women entering the workforce due to men being at war, these changes allowed them to work and still feed their families.

Trends compelled by circumstance have continued till today, with processed foods giving way hyper-processed foods that are built around often problematic ingredients.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a processed food item as: “a covered commodity that has undergone specific processing resulting in a change in the character of the covered commodity, or that has been combined with at least one other covered commodity or other substantive food component. Specific processing steps that result in a change in the character of the covered commodity include cooking, curing, smoking, and restructuring.”

Today, that restructuring often includes using ingredients like denatured seed oils and added sugars. These ingredients add flavor while extending shelf life but they come with a growing list of problems, research has revealed, including damaging gut health.

What is Gut Health?

There are few medical decisions as critical at what is at the end of your fork. Food can be medicine or poison, and your mind and body reveal which, often after years of poor eating have resulted in chronic disease. Yes, exercise and other healthy habits contribute to your health, but your body requires good food. Your body is made out of the complex phytonutrients that come from healthful food.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said over two thousand years ago, “all disease begins in the gut.”

Hippocrates may have been right. The science of medicine has begun to confirm what ancient people knew, that the body is highly integrated, and diet, lifestyle, and mindset are critical to well being.

Each bodily system is both dependent upon and supporting of others. We are learning that the food we eat has a much larger impact on our health than just being carbs, proteins, and fats.

A vital component to health is our gut microbiome. And according to Erika Ebbel Angle, a noted expert on the gut microbiome, there are trillions of organisms living inside your digestive system, from bacteria to fungi and other cells. Their job it to take what you have eaten and extract every single nutrient possible from that food to keep your body functioning at its best.

This microbiome is the primary host of your immune system, it creates hormones that function as neurotransmitters, and it affects ever aspect of health. The best way to understand its significance is to reframe your understanding of what it means to be a human being. In fact, you are an ecosystem, dependent on a rich and healthy diversity of all these symbiotic microorganisms.

Research shows that having a healthy gut means you will get sick less often, have more energy, and even have better moods.

Anxiety, depression, diabetes, and auto-immune conditions are all conditions that research is connecting to an unhealthy gut microbiome.

Epoch Times Photo
Highly processed foods are having a negative effect on our health. (Hamza Nouasria/Unsplash)

The Study Results

The recently published study in Gastroenterology linked a single, prevalent food additive to significant negative alterations in the gut microbiome.

A person is considered to have metabolic syndrome if they have any three of the following five conditions: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol, or high triglyceride levels.

People with metabolic syndrome are at significantly higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.

These researchers studied 16 healthy individuals over a period of 11 days, who ate the same foods with the only difference being portion size. They were all given that same fixed amount of the dietary additive carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) daily.

According to the study’s researchers:

“These results support the notion that the broad use of CMC in processed foods may be contributing to increased prevalence of an array of chronic inflammatory diseases by altering the gut microbiome and metabolome.”

The study looked at the impact of just one synthetic dietary additive, the emulsifier or thickening agent CMC, on healthy human volunteers.

CMC is found in products such as chewing gum, peanut butter, sausages, and margarine, to name a few, and has been used in the food industry since the 1960’s according to Georgia State University.

The results of the study were not good. The participants were all healthy individuals, but when consuming the additive CMC, they experienced discomfort after eating and also had changes to their gut bacteria that negatively affected their health. Some even had negative nutrient absorption, meaning they had a hard time getting the nutrients they needed from the foods that they ate during the study.

Epoch Times Photo
Research is proving that gut health is vital to overall health and mental wellbeing. (Louis Reed/Unsplash)

In an article written by Dr. Scott Buesing, a naturopathic doctor, he states that research now shows that CMC might be damaging gut health, and by extension, overall health. Dr. Buesing cited studies from the early 1980’s showing CMC, which was used in tampons, fed bad bacteria and increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome.

CMC was approved in the 1960’s by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food, but was never properly tested. At the time, the prevailing understanding was that CMC was not absorbed into the body. This was long before scientists and doctors understood the profound impact of the gut microbiome. Research now shows that CMC interferes with our gut microbiome. CMC has been shown to impact how quickly you digest food, and because it also interferes with the lining of the intestines, it affects what nutrients you can and cannot absorb.

Conclusion

The best thing we can do to prevent our gut microbiome from being negatively affected is to avoid eating highly processed foods as much as possible and introduce healthy, natural whole foods, fresh vegetables (not canned or frozen) fresh dairy, and fresh meats. The introduction of healthy fermented and cultured foods like cheeses and fermented vegetables like kim chi, sauerkraut, fermented chili sauces, and pickles are also very good for the health of your gut microbiome.

Make better food choices when shopping, and if you have to eat take out, try and avoid fast foods, or highly processed foods from convenience stores. Choose wisely and your gut will thank and reward you.