When Oil And Water Do 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 and 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 new study in the journal Nature found two commonly used emulsifiers, carboxymethylcellulose 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 percent whole, all trans fats and most saturated fats) and to skip prepared and processed foods; they often contain emulsifiers.

© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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