(NaturalNews) Found in an astounding array of foods, from cereal bars to non-dairy milk substitutes, carrageenan is not as harmless as it may appear upon first glance. Linked with gastrointestinal inflammation, lesions and malignant tumors, carrageenan can cause significant damage. And if you think purchasing organic will keep you safe, think again. A true case of buyer beware, taking a second look at your favorite foods may prevent a number of health problems down the road.
Used throughout the food industry, carrageenan is an extremely common ingredient. You might be surprised as to the sheer range of products that utilize the additive, including the following organic examples:
Since carrageenan is derived from a natural source, we may not think there is cause for alarm. But upon closer inspection, carrageenan is far from benign. According to "Carrageenan: Risks and Reality":
"The unique chemical structure of carrageenan triggers an innate immune response in the body, which recognizes it as a dangerous invader. This immune response leads to inflammation. For individuals who consume carrageenan on a regular or daily basis, the inflammation will be prolonged and constant, which is a serious health concern since prolonged inflammation is a precursor to more serious disease."
Joanne Tobacman, M.D., veteran carrageenan researcher and associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago, agrees. She states in Prevention that "[c]arrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding."
Dr. Tobacman is involved with ongoing research that examines the effect carrageenan has on ulcerative colitis, as well as other diseases like diabetes. And yet, concerns about food-grade carrageenan are nothing new. Since the 1960s, the additive has been under scrutiny by researchers who found food-grade carrageenan caused gastrointestinal disease in lab animals - including colon cancer and intestinal lesions.
If you would like to protect yourself from the dangers of carrageenan, here are a few tips:
Read labels. One of the best (and easiest) methods to reduce exposure to carrageenan is to consistently scan labels. Since carrageenan must legally be listed, have a look at your favorite convenience food to see if it's an ingredient.
Make your voice heard. Sign the petition to the FDA for the removal of carrageenan from our food supply and make it clear to the agency that the additive isn't safe for consumption.
Review the list. The Cornucopia Institute has created a practical shopping guide that helps you identify which products and brands use carrageenan -- and those that do not.
About the author: Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, wellness coach and natural foods chef, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.