One recommendation I give in The Wahls Protocol is to avoid potential food allergens, such as gluten and casein (the protein in dairy products). These allergens can cause immune responses and inflammation, which increase risk for disease. However, many people don’t realize they are sensitive to gluten or casein.
In this article, Dr. Andrew Weil discusses another reason to avoid dairy products: carrageenan. A common food additive extracted from a species of red seaweed, carrageenan is used as a thickener and emulsifier to improve the taste and texture of ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, and soy milk. However, carrageenan is in many processed foods, not just dairy products.
Many dietary studies are examining carrageenan and its potential effect on the gastrointestinal system. Studies done by Dr. Joanne Tobacman suggest that exposure to carrageenan may cause inflammation and stomach problems and increase the risk of cancer in the GI tract. Some animal studies have even used carrageenan to induce inflammation to study the effects of anti-inflammatory procedures. Because carrageenan causes inflammation in other animals, it may be affecting humans as well.
Chronic inflammation is a cause of many diseases, including autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and heart disease. I recommend avoiding carrageenan to decrease your risk of inflammation and GI problems.