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These Additives are making you fat

Say hello to emulsifiers, the additives in your food that are messing with your metabolism. A recent study published in the prestigious journal Nature describes the effects of ingredients such as lecithin, xanthan gum, and polysorbate 80 on the digestive tract, and in turn on human health.

These ingredients are part of a family of additives know as emulsifiers. They are found in baked goods, ice cream, salad dressing, plant-based prepared foods, and many other products bought in the supermarket. Emulsifiers are important in food processing because:

  • they keep ingredients mixed together instead of separating, for example water and oil in a salad dressing
  • they improve the texture of foods, for example ice-cream
  • they increase shelf-life
  • they are cheap to manufacture from natural or synthetic sources

In the study, groups of mice were given feed that had the same proportion of emulsifiers as humans consume in the standard American diet. Compared to a control group, the mice consuming emulsifiers had a higher rate of inflammation and metabolic syndrome.

Upon inspection of the mice guts, researchers discovered several changes:

  1. the gut bacteria population changed
  2. the gut protective lining (mucus) was disturbed
  3. additionally, the mice gained weight and displayed an increase in appetite.

Something in these ingredients, which are FDA approved and often used in organic and healthy packaged foods, causes a negative reaction in the gut. Habitual exposure to these ingredients leads to microbiome changes and weight gain.

What does this mean for humans?

Simple: eat less processed foods. Prepare more meals at home from whole foods instead of relying on packaged foods.

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