What Are Emulsifiers? And Are They Hurting Your Body?

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So what are emulsifiers? Emulsifiers are chemicals (both natural and man-made) used to make ingredients in food mix well together.

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Eggs are a naturally occurring emulsifier.

There are many different kinds, both man-made and natural, and the man-made ones in particular can be found in most processed food.

Natural emulsifiers, like egg yolk, are used in mayonnaise, cakes, and breads to make them smoother and more stable. Have you ever tried to make mayonnaise without egg yolk? The oil and lemon juice won’t mix together without the aid of lecithin, the emulsifier found in egg yolk.

The man-made emulsifiers are a little more complicated. They are used often used in food as a cost-cutting measure, replacing the more expensive egg yolks and fat.

You will generally find them in ice-cream, mouthwash, bread and cake, peanut butter, margarine, and lollies, along with many more. A recent study published in Nature Immunology tested the health effects of two of the most common man-made emulsifiers.

The results may be concerning. The study alleges that these emulsifiers may be having severe impacts on our gastrointestinal tract. This part of the body is  essential to our ability to absorb nutrients and fluid, as well as providing a line of defence against toxins and harmful bacteria.

Any changes to it will prevent us from getting all of the good stuff out of our food and increase our chances of contracting illnesses.

The study’s tests specifically showed increased blood sugar levels and insulin resistance as a result of consuming the man-made emulsifiers. Both of these are factors that have been proven to lead to a high risk of diabetes.

In Australia and New Zealand the Food Standards body has approved both of these chemicals for use in food with no maximum levels. But do we really understand the potential health risks associated with these man-made emulsifiers?

Regulating the additives used in processed food is an important topic, and one to which this study proves we should be paying a lot more attention.

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Ally Bodnaruk

CONTRIBUTOR

Ally enjoys long books and large coffees. She spends most of her time daydreaming about new places to travel instead of writing, and the rest of it daydreaming about all the things she’d like to write.

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