In any processed, packaged food product there is often a host of chemical names. Very few of us recognize these names, why they are added to the food product and what they might do to our bodies. Scientists took a look at food additives classified as emulsifying agents intended as food stabilizers.
What does that mean?
Emulsifiers and stabilizers are added to foods to make them more appealing in texture and extend the shelf life. They are commonly used in foods like margarine, ice cream, baked goods, salad dressings, veggie burgers, non-dairy milks and pre-made hamburger patties. Emulsifiers keep the oil and water parts of food from separating. Often used in low-fat spreads, emulsifiers prevent the growth of mold.
Scientists feed two common emulsifying chemicals to healthy mice. These chemicals, carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate 80 are popular additives to processed foods. The healthy mice began eating more, gaining weight and exhibiting problems with blood sugar control; compared to control mice not eating the chemical additives.
When the scientists looked at the gut tissue of mice consuming emulsifiers, they found more signs of low-grade inflammation. This is because the chemical had a negative effect on healthy gut bacteria.
Do the results of this study transfer over to humans? Good question. The scientists have more work to do.
In the meantime, if you aim to eat whole, fresh foods you can avoid emulsifiers. If you just can’t stay away from your favorite pre-packaged food, take note if that food product seems to make you feel unable to control portion size or you feel hungry shortly (within an hour or two) after eating the food product. Then you have to ask yourself if this packaged food taste is worth adding pounds to your waistline.