It is close to impossible to have a diet that is free from carrageenan when every food that we buy from the supermarkets and groceries has it as a food additive. Even food that is labeled as organic and is completely natural still contains carrageenan. This is why it has been very alarming when health advocates suddenly announced that carrageenan can become a cause for numerous health illnesses such as respiratory problems, birth defects, colon cancer, immunity suppression and a lot more.
What is Carrageenan?
Carageenan is a type of food ingredient derived from red algae or seaweeds which is then processed through a special alkaline procedure to come with the end product which is popularly used by food manufacturers as a natural food ingredient. There is also another process wherein the same seaweed is mixed with an acidic solution resulting to carrageenan’s degraded form also known as poligeenan. The heavy usage of carrageenan in food and other products is not really new since this food ingredient was introduced back in the 1930’s and has become prominent since then.
Carageenan is not really regarded as health food but that does not right away mean that it is bad for our health. It may be possible that carageenan can have side effects to the consumer but there is no direct evidence at all suggesting that carageenan in particular is the one who caused all the health illnesses mentioned above.The idea of considering carageenan as bad for our health is still sketchy and currently under study. The research and study done with carageenan are all flawed and has loopholes that reflects upon the conclusion gathered after these experiments.
The controversy surrounding carageenan is not also new because in the 1960’s it has also been linked to numerous gastrointestinal conditions and digestive problems. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) even tried to restrict the ingredient for its uses but that did not push through. This only means the issues revolving around carageenan aren’t totally new but they simply got more blatant due to negative publicity all over the internet such as articles and blog posts about it.
Up to this day, the situation of carageenan is still up in the air and health care practitioners still aren’t able to conclude whether it is good or bad for our health. As a health care practitioner myself, I do believe that carageenan should not be right away regarded as a pollutant to our bodies when all of the studies done with it aren’t able to pinpoint carageenan itself as the culprit for all these health-related illnesses. We have already been using carageenan for a very long time now and all these illnesses associated with it have also existed since forever. There may be elements within carageenan that can contribute to these diseases but I guess it would be unfair to generalize that carageenan is indeed bad for our health much like any food additive that food manufacturers use for their products.