Advertisement

When Oil and Water Mix: Health Alert

When Oil and Water Mix: Health Alert

When you hear the phrase, “Those two go together like oil and water,” you know they don’t get along. But what if you had to make them compatible? To do that for oil and water, what’s needed is an emulsifier, a binding agent that keeps everything well-mixed.

Today, the list of foods that contain fat-stabilizing, shelf-life-extending, texture-enhancing emulsifiers could fill a big box store (oh, wait, they do!). From cooking sprays, butter substitutes, to soft serve and hard ice creams, bottled sauces, candy bars and baked goods, emulsifiers keep unlikely pairings together for fun and profit. But, it turns out, when manufacturers mess with your food by adding emulsifiers, your metabolism, endocrine system and digestive tract become a mess.

A study in the journal Nature found two commonly used emulsifiers, carboxymethylcellulsose and polysorbate 80, seem to change the balance of gut bacteria and damage the mucus lining of the intestines in lab animals. For some, emulsifiers caused pro-inflammatory bacteria to move from the gut into the body – bad news for the immune system. For others, they produced intestinal inflammation, leading to obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. And, the researchers say, “the broad use of emulsifying agents might be contributing to  [peoples’ development of] obesity/metabolic syndrome and other chronic inflammatory diseases.”

This is just one more reason to avoid products containing the Five Food Felons (all added sugars and syrups, any grain that isn’t 100% whole, all trans fats and most saturated fats) and to skip prepared and processed foods; they often contain emulsifiers.

Medically reviewed in August 2018.

Substituting BPS for BPA, Not a Good Swap
Substituting BPS for BPA, Not a Good Swap
The Who first recorded the song Substitute in 1970; the Sex Pistols in 1979; and the Ramones in 1993. The first line: “I was born with a plastic spoon...
Read More
What are the disadvantages of pasteurized milk?
Margaret FloydMargaret Floyd
The trouble with milk pasteurization is that it can undermine the quality of the milk. Not only ...
More Answers
How do I avoid genetically modified organisms or GMOs in my food?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
The issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a complicated one. It requires you, the consum...
More Answers
Why Should I Eat Locally Grown Food?
Why Should I Eat Locally Grown Food?