Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Emulsifiers are in everything!

Last weekend, there was an opinion piece in the NY Times regarding how additives in processed foods negatively affect your gut microbiome, in particular mentioning emulsifiers and food thickeners. This isn't news exactly, this has been known for the last several years. But more research has shown what they do to the lining of your gut.
These are your guts on emulsifiers!

I've been having increased issues with food sensitivities over the last ten years and find that I have more and more issues with an increasing number of foods that I've had to eliminate. I can still eat them, but I generally have bad gastrointestinal issues, migraines and skin problems.

As a result of these food sensitivities, I've stopped eating foods that contain:

  • gluten
  • soy
  • nightshades (potatoes, peppers, tomatoes)
  • nitrates
  • msg
  • fermented foods

From the research I've done, I've found that these emulsifiers act as surfactants that break down the protective barrier lining your guts, causing food and bacterial encroachment into your bloodstream which results in an immune response. This is commonly referred to as a leaky gut and more and more scientific studies are showing this is actually a thing (versus pretending it was all in our heads).

The most offensive emulsifiers include:

  • carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), otherwise known as cellulose gum
  • polysorbate-80 (P80)
  • carrageenan
  • MDX, maltodextrin, modified starches (corn, wheat, tapioca, etc.)
  • lecithin, soy lecithin (the jury is still out on these)

Additional gums that cause problems include:

  • guar gum
  • locust bean gum
  • carob gum
  • gellen gum
  • cellulose gum
  • tara gum
  • xanthan gum

Needless to say, after looking at the processed foods (all organic) that I routinely eat, these emulsifiers are in EVERYTHING. From ice cream to salad dressing, sauces, chocolate, tortillas, and gluten-free anything, they are almost impossible to avoid.

Right now I'm on an elimination diet to get it out of my guts for at least 6 weeks and then see if I can challenge eating the foods that were causing me problems.

All this time I thought I had a gluten sensitivity, but I'm starting to think I have a surfactant reaction to these modifiers that's making me sensitive to all these other foods that I used to be able to eat without issue.

I'll be posting some recipes for substitutes to products that I've been eating that contain numerous and, in some cases, up to 5 of the emulsifiers and gums listed above. Just because something is organic or "natural" doesn't mean it doesn't have potentially harmful ingredients in them.

What about you? Are you finding that you are having more food sensitivity issues as you've gotten older?

Articles for your own research:


Kristol Smith said...

A friend of mine is having similar challenges.
Hashimoto syndrome is her issue. Leaky gut as well.
She makes an enormous quantity of bone broth every week to provide nutrition, amongst other things. A few of my other friends have developed sensitivities to wheat/diary.

Since emulsifiers are giving you troubles, what are you eating nowadays that are working well for you?

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Kristol Smith said...

It's been a while since this post, and I wanted to check in.

How is healing your gut going?

What is working for you, to get the emulusifiers out of your kitchen?

I'm trying to cook at home more, and trying to minimize packed materials, for eco-reasons.
Those two things are helping me.

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Anonymous said...

I also try to avoid all emulsifiers (as well as sugar, gluten, other grains, etc) as I have Crohn's disease and have found that I'm sensitive to many foods. I've been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for the last 6 months, and it helps. This diet eliminates many foods (including gluten), but also all emulsifiers and gums. If you do a search on "SCD recipes," you'll find many recipes. Good luck!

Here's a link about SCD if you're interested:


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