If you’re a label reader, chances are you’ve encountered carrageenan frequently at the grocery store. Because it’s a polysaccharide that is known for it’s stabilizing properties, it’s often found in foods that require thickening. It may look harmless, as carrageenan is a food additive extracted from edible red seaweeds, but there is more to the story…
How it impairs detoxification
In phase 1 of liver detoxification, the body uses cytochrome P450 enzymes to start the process of making toxins water soluble for excretion from the body, a process that is finished in phase 2. However, Carrageenan reduces the P450 enzymes weakening your detoxification system. According to Dr. Ray Peat, “Carrageenan contributes to the disappearance of the liver enzymes (the cytochrome P-450 system) that detoxify drugs, hormones, and a variety of other chemicals.” If you want to learn more about how your detoxification system works and how to support it, you can read more here.
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Linked to digestive disorders
Carrageenan is not very digestible and it is capable of causing inflammation, especially for those who are predisposed to digestive trouble. According to Dr. Ray Peat, PhD, “Carrageenan has been found to cause colitis and anaphylaxis in humans, but it is often present in baby “formulas” and a wide range of milk products, with the result that many people have come to believe that it was the milk-product that was responsible for their allergic symptoms. Because the regulators claim that it is a safe natural substance, it is very likely that it sometimes appears in foods that don’t list it on the label, for example when it is part of another ingredient.”
What foods is carrageenan found in?
Most commonly, you’ll find carrageenan in:
- dairy products
- boxed milk substitutes (especially coconut milk)
- ice cream
- salad dressings
- sliced meats
I hope this is a good reminder to check your labels and remember to count the chemicals, not the calories, in your food!