Our diets influence how we feel on a day to day basis, and in large part determine our overall long term health, but unless you have an obvious allergy, or serious food sensitivity you may not even realize what is behind those nagging symptoms that are causing you to feel less than your best.
In recent years researchers have begun to turn their attention to the link between chronic inflammation and disease. Age is a factor in the natural process of our immune system becoming more inflamed and becoming less able to function, but there are a number of preventable factors that play a role in inflammation as well including persistent infections from viruses and bacteria, high mercury levels, stress, and ingesting excitotoxins in the form of food additives and omega 6 fatty acids.
Sugar is another avoidable culprit in the elevation of inflammation levels. Sugar produces AGE’s or advanced glycation end-products, which are substances that can be a factor in the development, or worsening of many diseases. AGE’s are harmful compounds which can affect nearly every type of cell and molecule in the body.
Because all of the above factors can adversely affect both our short term and long term health it is important to be aware, and take steps to minimize our exposure to them.
Fortunately the health care community is becoming more and more aware of the correlations between what we put into our bodies and the state of our health. By shifting their focus toward the cause and effect of chronic inflammation in the body, researchers have discovered that a large percentage of the population who develop cancer also have chronic inflammation.
Not only have they found that there is a link between chronic inflammation and cancer development, but it appears that the continued presence of inflammation in the body after cancer is diagnosed may also cause the cancer to grow faster and spread more rapidly. Conversely if the inflammation can be reduced then it appears to slow the growth of the cancer. This is good information to have, as there are many things that we can do to decrease the level of inflammation in our bodies just by changing our habits and lifestyles.
Inflammation can be caused by a number of factors but our diets are primarily to blame. Today’s hectic lifestyle has led many people to rely on highly processed and overly prepared foods that are full of fillers, and preservatives. The lack of whole foods, coupled with the increase in our diets of fast/pre-prepared/junk foods, has been a major contributor to the decline in people’s overall health.
In today’s article I will be focusing on Carrageenan, a common food additive that is also a common cause of inflammation in the body.
Carrageenan is extracted from edible red seaweed, which is widely used in the food industry for gelling and thickening purposes. So you may ask; if it’s natural, then what’s the problem?
The truth is that not all natural products are good for our health, and Carrageenan has been shown to be destructive to the digestive system, contributing to leaky gut syndrome and causing inflammation as a result.
Chronic inflammation is one of the root causes of many diseases including, but not limited to, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Leaky Gut, Parkinson’s, MS, and Cancer.
Studies of Carrageenan have shown that when injected close to an existing tumor inflammation has been the result, and the tumor has begun to grow more rapidly. The cancer was also spread into other tissue more quickly when Carrageenan was present then when it was not.
One of the characteristics of inflammation is the high levels of free radicals that it produces. These free radicals have a stimulating effect on cancer, causing it to grow and spread more quickly.
Dr. Joanne K. Tobacman M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine has said, “All forms of Carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation.”
In clinical tests, Dr. Tobacman stated that while doing their research, scientists actually used Carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissue in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. The result of this testing was that while Carrageenan does not appear to actually cause cancer, its inflammatory properties may play a role in the spread of cancer once it has begun to grow by creating unnecessary inflammation in our bodies.
We are not all the same, and some will be more susceptible than others to the effects of inflammation, but if you aren’t feeling as well as you would like then perhaps it is time to take a look at what is in your diet and weed out some of the things that may be causing a problem.
Unfortunately buying Natural or Organic products is not a safety net for avoiding Carrageenan since it is a natural product; whatever else it may do, and may still be used in those products without being in violation of labeling laws. So if you wish to avoid additives like Carrageenan you need to be mindful, and read each label thoroughly before purchasing.
With this information if we feel bloated, stiff in our joints, or if we have a general feeling of being unwell, it could be due to our diet. If we aren’t careful about what we put into our bodies then it is inevitable that we will eventually succumb to disease, probably sooner rather than later.
For the health conscious consumer there are brands available that do not add Carrageenan to their products, but like everything else that you purchase from a store you need to be an informed consumer and check your labels.
The list goes on and on, but some of the more prevalent products with Carrageenan in them are as follows:
Infant Formula Deli Meats
Soy Milk Ice Cream
Rice Milk Salad Dressings
Almond Milk Nutritional Shakes/drinks
Coconut Milk Chocolate Milk Powder
Yogurt Cream substitutes
And Many Pre-prepared, Canned and Frozen Packaged Foods
Denise is a Michigander turned Pennsylvanian, who has been writing stories since Elementary School. Denise won an award at the annual Lansing Youth Talent Show, when she was in 10th grade, for a short story entitled Procrastination is Fatal, but didn’t decide on writing as a career until she was 28 years old. While homeschooling her older children she spent 4 years working through a course from The Institute of Children’s Literature. Through the years Denise’s children have had a variety of health issues, many of which have been linked to various sensitives; having spent more than 20 years researching and trying different things Denise has a boots on the ground view on healthier living. Denise currently writes for 2 blogs and has several books in different stages of completion. She is planning to break ground in e publishing, and hopes to have her first Historical Fantasy book which is set during the renaissance, “Lisa, My Lisa?” ready by the first of the year.