What is carrageenan?

Carrageenans or carrageenins are a family of linear sulphated polysaccharides that are extracted from red edible seaweeds. They are widely used in the food industry, for their gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties. Wikipedia

You may find carrageenan in various food products such as dairy and non-dairy milks, yogurts, ice creams, salad dressings, meat products, etc. It is even found in organic products.

Normally, when products are packaged and shelved, the ingredients will separate upon settling. The carrageenan makes it unnecessary for the consumer to have to shake a product to recombine the ingredients.

Is it so difficult to shake or stir a product?

Better yet, get to the point where you don’t have to buy pre-packaged foods called ‘products’. Start with making your own non-dairy milks. And if you buy dairy milk buy organic milk from a local farmer who dispenses it in glass returnable bottles. But until you get to that level, simply avoid products that have carrageenan.
Even though carrageenan is derived from a natural source (red seaweed), it is believed that it is in the processing which causes problems for digestion. Some people react strongly to carrageenan with symptoms such as skin rash or digestive upset.
It should not be consumed on a regular basis, which is unavoidable if a persons primary source of food is ready made convenience items that come in packages. Practice eating real food that doesn’t come in single-use disposable packages or containers.

In the meantime, read this article by Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. Is Carrageenan Safe?  In it Dr. Weil references Dr. Tobacman who “conducted studies linking undegraded carrageenan – the type that is widely used in foods – with malignancies and other stomach problems. Dr. Tobacman said that her research has shown that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’sand Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.”

I will update this page when I have more time.

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