By Vanessa Vanya, H.C.
These days, there is an ocean of alternative milk choices popping up all over the place, from grocery stores to café fixin’ stations. As convenient as this is to those who can’t or choose not to process that pesky lactose, “alternative” isn’t a default for “healthier,” and the list of ingredients in those products is becoming increasingly lengthy and almost as dangerous as what we’re substituting. Processed foods need a lot of help to sustain a long shelf life and to actually taste and resemble real food, so the food industry has come up with a ton of bizarre substances to throw in the mix. In addition to the sugars, chemicals, and preservatives that you’ve heard of, there’s one additive that keeps popping up in almond milk (as well as other milk substitutes) that maybe you haven’t: carrageenan.
Carrageenan is extracted from a red seaweed, that in its natural state, is perfectly safe for human consumption. Once processed and degraded, however, it becomes what has now been deemed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer as a probable carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer). It’s used as a thickener/stabilizer/texturizer in everything from yogurt and popsicles to processed meats and cosmetics, as well as so many of the milk alternatives available today. It’s also used to de-ice frozen airplanes sitting on the tarmac during winter storms, which is never something I thought to ask of my oat-milk latte.
In addition to its effectiveness in de-icing planes, multiple studies have displayed carrageenan’s strong link to intestinal ulcerations, birth defects, diabetes, and cancer in lab animals, and it’s been proven to cause inflammation in the body.
In addition to its effectiveness in de-icing planes, multiple studies have displayed carrageenan’s strong link to intestinal ulcerations, birth defects, diabetes, and cancer in lab animals, and it’s been proven to cause inflammation in the body – inflammation being the root cause of various cancers, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Carrageenan has become so predictably inflammatory that it’s actually used now to cause inflammation in lab animals for pharmaceutical research. Author of Health and Nutrition Secrets that Can Save Your Life, Dr. Russell Blaylock refers to carrageenan as a “tumor growth promoter.” I mean, if that doesn’t sound like something you want in your bowl of cornflakes, I don’t know what does.
It’s exasperating how much conflicting information we’re provided with today in relation to nutrition and our personal health. It seems like every other week we’re being made aware of something new that is going to slowly kill us. Don’t be terrified of food, just educate yourself and be aware of what you’re eating.
Whenever I’m grocery shopping I always think of what Cher from Clueless said: “You’ve seen how picky I am about shoes and they only go on my feet.”
There are still a variety of almond and other substitute milks at the store that don’t use carrageenan, and if you’re into it, try experimenting with making your own alternative milk! Homemade is almost always best, but if you’re going to buy processed foods, don’t just assume they’re healthy because they say “natural” or come in new-agey matte packaging. Read the ingredients, know what they are, and what they mean. Whenever I’m grocery shopping I always think of what Cher from Clueless said: “You’ve seen how picky I am about shoes and they only go on my feet.”