Can You Even Pronounce What Is In What You Eat?
Carboxymethylcellulose ( noun ): a food additive that alters the gut microbiome.
Check that ingredient list. Do you see carboxymethylcellulose (CMC)? You should always check the ingredient list. If you don’t know what the ingredient is, it is probably a synthetic chemical and has nothing to do with actual food that will nourish your body. CMC is a common food additive that’s been used since the 1960s. It acts as an emulsifier—something that helps fats mix with watery ingredients. It also improves food texture and extends the shelf life. It was FDA approved as a food additive despite a lack of food safety testing. So you’ve been eating it, regularly, for years.
Basically, it’s like most food additives: a synthetic chemical that the processed food industry could not survive without. In other words, it is to their benefit, not yours. Many chemical food additives in processed and refined foods are there to make food more attractive, stimulate salivation, motivate you to buy it, and increase the expiration date before the store has to get rid of it. These chemicals are not there to support your nutrition and your health. So what do chemical additives do to your intestines?
Carboxymethylcellulose was always thought to be safe because it isn’t digested and absorbed. It just passes through your digestive system and is eliminated in your stool. It turns out that might not be accurate.
We are learning so much more about the importance of gut health and all the tiny organisms that make up the gut microbiome…
…and it turns out that gut microbes are sensitive to the damaging effects of synthetic food additives like carboxymethylcellulose.
Lots of times we only get information like this from animal studies, but in this case, a study was done with humans. Healthy volunteers consumed either an additive-free diet or a diet supplemented with carboxymethylcellulose. Here’s what they found in people consuming the food additive:
➡ Decreased numbers of some beneficial species of gut microbes
➡ Depletion of some metabolites (compounds produced by gut microbes) needed for colon health
➡ Invasion of some gut microbes into the mucosal layer of the gut wall (a sign of gut inflammation)
And that was after only 2 WEEKS of consuming this food additive! Imagine what’s happening when you consume it day in and day out for years ????
So much for the argument that food additives are just fine as long as they just pass right through.
When you eat processed foods, you’re basically taking part in one mass experiment. That experiment has been going on for at least 50 years! Nobody knows what the combination of all those many additives do to our bodies in the long run. The safest best?
Keep it simple. Stick with whole foods. ????????????????????
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Chassaing B, Compher C, Bonhomme B et al. Randomized controlled-feeding study of dietary emulsifier carboxymethylcellulose reveals detrimental impacts on the gut microbiota and metabolome. Gastroenterology . 2021. [ link ]