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Emulsifiers in Food Linked to Inflammation, Anxiety and Depression

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

processed food emulsifiers

Story at-a-glance -

  • Emulsifiers in processed foods could be wreaking havoc on the microbes in your intestines, leading to metabolic problems and even affecting your brain
  • Because your gut and brain communicate via your gut-brain axis, altering microbes in your gut can influence anxiety and behavior, leading researchers to speculate that consuming emulsifiers may also influence mental health and behavior
  • A study confirmed that exposure to emulsifiers led to chronic intestinal inflammation, obesity and altered gut microbiota composition in mice
  • Emulsifiers trigger chronic, low-grade inflammation in your body, to which depression is strongly linked
  • The best way to avoid emulsifiers in your diet is to avoid processed foods and eat real, whole foods instead

When you eat processed foods, you're not only being exposed to unhealthy ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and synthetic fats but also the additives used to create a uniform, shelf-stable product. Emulsifiers, including carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) and polysorbate 80 (P80), are among them, and research suggests they could be leading to inflammation, anxiety and depression in those who consume them.

If you've ever made salad dressing or mayonnaise at home, you're probably aware that the ingredients naturally separate, as oil and water don't mix. Yet, salad dressings and mayonnaise that's store-bought stays mixed. This is due to emulsifiers, which blend otherwise unblendable ingredients while also reducing stickiness, controlling crystallization and preventing separation.

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