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Is Carrageenan Safe?

Carrageenan is an ingredient used by the food industry to thicken various products such as non dairy milks, yogurts, dressings, sauces and various vegan products. Studies have linked carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation, lesions and even colon cancer in rats. When we looked at this further, the issue seems to be that the degraded substance of carrageenen is poligeenan. It is the poligeenan has been shown to be toxic at high doses and to have a tumor promoting effect on the colon of rodents.  Carrageenan is used in food in a form processed from “Eucheuma Seaweed “and has a very high content of cellulose.  While cellulose is not digestible by humans, the worry is that there is a connection between a bacteria called “bacteroides vulgates” that breaks down carrageenan to its toxic form and this bacteria is found (according to Dr. Michael Murray, ND) to be six times higher in people with ulcerative colitis. So, for anyone with UC or IBD it would be a very good idea to avoid it.  For everyone else, we don’t think that ingesting small quantities of it should be something to worry too much about. With this said however, many health food manufacturers are slowing taking this compound out of their products and as time goes on, it will be easier to find non dairy milks and other products without carrageenan.

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