Spondylitis Association of America
Posted By: seekonk Maybe avoid carrageenan (in ice cream, etc.) - 11/01/12 12:01 AM
Interestingly, the common food additive carrageenan (in many brands of ice cream, yoghurt, and many other processed foods) has been found to cause gut inflammation in susceptible individuals, and is also possibly linked to triggering or aggravating IBS and Chrohn's disease in some people. See Wikipedia for some links to the relevant research.

I do not have either of these conditions but it certainly causes me significant GI distress the day after I eat, say, ice cream containing it.

Since AS is also sometimes associated with gut inflammation (see for example the oher thread on the Johns Hopkins study), and is often comorbid with intestinal inflammatory diseases, it may be worthwhile for those of us who are affected by it to consider eliminating it and see if it helps AS symptoms.
I avoid carrageenan (E407, E407a) for that reason. This site has a link to a pdf with all the scientific info - http://www.cornucopia.org/2012/06/eminent-scientist-addresses-impact-of-carrageenan-in-food/
Interestingly, from the page you mention,

Carrageenan has been used in thousands of biological experiments over several decades, because it predictably causes inflammation.
Thats really interesting. I must check if thats an ingredient in the "natural" stuff my dentist uses to make dental impressions. Something in that stuff definitely makes my mouth burn and swell, which makes it incredibly difficult to get an accurate impression. I keep getting told I can't be reacting to it because its "natural". I'm sure it used to be an ingredient in a common cough mixture as well ("Irish moss")
This was in Dr. Weil's newsletter recently. I kind of filed it in the back of my mind but didn't take it very seriously. But after reading these posts, I guess I will take a second look. I have noticed that it is in a couple of things I eat. Sigh. It seems like eating is sooo complicated these days.
Interesting. I googled it and found this somewhat random - but useful - commentary. As a producer of organic and other "healthy" products, Stonyfield Farm is very motivated to not be using ingredients that are well established to be harmful.


Of note:
"Question: I have heard that carrageenan may cause colon inflammation and cancer. Is this true?

"Answer: The kind of carrageenan used in food does not cause colon inflammation or cancer. There are two types of carrageenan: low molecular weight carrageenan, known as degraded carrageenan, and high molecular weight carrageenan, known as undegraded carrageenan. Over 150 studies on the health effects of consuming undegraded carrageenan concluded this substance is safe to eat.

"The European Commission Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General, Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) states, “On the issue of undegraded carrageenan, the Committee agreed with the conclusions of the recent Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives review that intakes of carrageenan from their use as food additives were of no concern" (JECFA, 2002)

"In contrast, studies have shown that degraded carrageenan does cause colon inflammation and may also cause cancer. For this reason, degraded carrageenan is not approved for use in any kind of food."

We also have to remember that substances causing inflammation after direct contact with part of the body (in this case, the GI tract; another example is contact dermatitis) do not necessarily cause systemic inflammation after ingestion.

cemc, you are right. Of course we can have a reaction to natural things. Two words: POISON IVY.

There are a lot of food additives I would worry about before carrageenan.

Seekonk, you said:
[carrageenan] certainly causes me significant GI distress the day after I eat, say, ice cream containing it.

Just curious how you know it is the carrageenan and not another ingredient in the ice cream - or another food or drink entirely.

Seekonk, also - the "other thread on the Johns Hopkins study" is not accurate. The thread to which you are referring linked to one 11 year old study of questionable relevance, and a review of Ebringer's research and theories (by Ebringer) on a website that Johns Hopkins also uses for CME exercises. Johns Hopkins had nothing to do with either of the articles referenced in the original post in that thread.
Food grade carrageenan still contains degraded carrageenan. From the pdf linked to earlier -

"When carrageenan was placed on the GRAS list in the 1950s, it was with the understanding that undegraded carrageenan did not contain degraded carrageenan. However, in addition to the clear harmful effects that arise from exposure to the higher molecular weight carrageenan, it is also clear at this point in time, that degraded carrageenan inevitably arises from higher molecular weight carrageenan. As the carrageenan manufacturers have shown in their Round Robin analysis of degraded carrageenan content in food-grade carrageenan (Marinalg Working Group report of January 2006 ““Technical position on measurements related to meeting the EC molecular weight distribution specification for carrageenan and PES), up to 25% carrageenan of molecular weight less than 50,000 was measured in the food-grade carrageenan that was tested. Other research has indicated that acid digestion, heating, bacterial action, and mechanical processing can increase the amount of degraded
carrageenan obtained from higher molecular weight carrageenan. Thus, it is not reasonable to evaluate and set a separate standard for undegraded and degraded carrageenan, since they inevitably co-exist in food products."

Inflammation from carrageenan can also lead to problems outside the gut -

"In experiments with human colonic cells in my laboratory, we have used small amounts of high molecular weight (undegraded or food grade) carrageenan and have determined the specific molecular mechanisms by which carrageenan causes inflammation. There are three major pathways by which carrageenan causes inflammation, including stimulation of an innate immune pathway. This pathway is also activated by pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella, and is stimulated due to the unusual chemical structure of carrageenan. Stimulation of this pathway is no accident; it is a direct result of the unusual chemical structure of carrageenan, and stimulation of this pathway has features that can lead to prolonged inflammatory effects. Also, the effects of carrageenan-induced inflammation are not limited to the intestine, and when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan in their water for 18 days, they develop profound glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action. These responses are precursors of diabetes, which is associated with activation of the innate immune pathway that carrageenan stimulates."

There are a lot of food additives I would worry about before carrageenan.

I would be interested in hearing about other potentially dangerous additives if you have some info, thanks.

Well, seems like the experts disagree on this one ... I don't have time to try to sort if out but if someone else does I'd be interested in hearing what you learn!

Other additives - things like artificial colors, flavors, preservatives. Consider one of Michael Pollan's "food rules" - if you can't pronounce the ingredients, it's not food. Produce that is at high risk for absorbing pesticides seems more worrisome to me than carrageenan. Unfortunately little is known about the long term effect of ingestion of these pesticides but recent study did conclude that organic vegetables are not more healthy than non-organic.

Factors that impact the food higher up the food chain are my biggest concerns. Meat/poultry/eggs/dairy products from factory-farmed and feedlot-raised animals have links to health problems that are not caused by free range animals that are able to move about and eat their natural diets.
That study on organic vegetables did not conclude, as far as I know, that non-organic is as healthy as organic, although it was widely misleadingly described that way in the media. What it concluded, as far as I could tell, was that organic did not contain significantly more of certain tested vitamins than non-organic. However, they did not address the possible effects of pesticides (the main health reason most consumers would choose organic products anyway) and other researchers have responded with claims that there are possibly important differences in certain other phytonutrients.

I don't know how important these differences are, but the media response to this study was in my opinion a masterclass on bad journalism. I suspect some irresponsible public quotes by the scientists themselves may have contributed to this.
You're right, the conclusion was that as far as we can tell from the studies that exist, no claim can be made that organic is "more healthy." True, that is different from saying the health benefits are equal. Scientific results are frequently misstated and overstated this way in the lay press - I don't think it's due to a bias, I think it's due to a lack of understanding of statistical terms and the research/lit review process overall.

Irresponsible public quotes ... ya think? Biomedical researchers should not be allowed to speak on the record without having a publicist at their elbow :p

The study did address pesticides, to the extent that the data were available for the meta-analysis.

from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/scienc...oduce.html?_r=0

"Conventional fruits and vegetables did have more pesticide residue, but the levels were almost always under the allowed safety limits, the scientists said. The Environmental Protection Agency sets the limits at levels that it says do not harm humans."

I realize some will contest the EPA's standard-setting process ... I'm not trying to confirm or deny, just passing it on.

My main issue with produce farming practices is not pesticides, but run-off (mostly fertilizer related) from irresponsibly managed farms which goes into the water. Even if it doesn't affect the end-product water supply, this pollution really messes up aquatic ecosystems; phosphates and other organic run-off into the river that's a few hundred yards from my home have caused it to become overrun with algae. It's a stinky, revolting looking green mess and the fish aren't there like they used to be .... We feel sure there are laws being broken here, but they are a low priority for enforcement in a time and place where people insist on low taxes and government has to cut the budget to balance it ..... frown
Of course, going back to the original post about ice cream containing carrageenan - its worth noting that carrageenan is definitely NOT an essential ingredient of icecream. In fact really the only essential ingredient is actually real dairy cream. Carrageenan, chicken fat, and all sorts of other things can be added to poorer quality icecream to give it the "creaminess" that is desired. If you find a really good brand that uses a recipe that relies on cream, that uses all natural flavourings (vanilla, cocoa, real fruit etc), then ice cream is wonderful and you don't have to think about the nasties in it. Until recently New Zealand icecream used to be pretty reliable and amazing - legally it couldn't be called "ice cream" if the fat part of it wasn't 100% cream. Unfortunately in recent years they have bowed to industry pressure and now some brands will use other fats like chicken fat to boost it. In the UK both Orkney and Shetland (blue coo) "ice cream" is real, and 100% cream based too, as well as some of the organic ones you can get elsewhere - it just tastes so different from other stuff.
That is a good point. We routinely buy Breyer's because the list of ingredients is very short and readable by a young child smile The cheaper the ice cream gets, the longer and more unpronouncable the ingredient list ... like everything, quality costs.
My two cents: Haagen-Dazs. Vanilla flavor ingredients: cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract. Really creamy. Breyers is good, too. Just don't get Dreyer's. Not the same.
Thanks for the info, I had no idea the stuff was in ice cream, even by favorite brand, and pudding mix. I knew it was in protein drinks, Slim-fast, etc.

My husband is not supposed to have it because he is on blood thinners, so I will need to read every label.
Originally Posted By: cemc
........ chicken fat, and all sorts of other things can be added to poorer quality icecream to give it the "creaminess" that is desired.......

an American friend once told me she thought they used hog fat in icecream too sick


.....and I'd stay right away from serve icecream, you know what that's made of, or do you??????
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