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icecreamAside from the added sugars and harmful trans fats, scientists from the Institute for Biomedical Services at Georgia State University have found yet another reason to avoid processed foods: common food additives called emulsifiers.

Emulsifiers are used to improve texture and shelf life in a variety of food products from ice cream to salad dressing, but results of a new study involving mice reveal a not-so-appetizing downside. In a nutshell, they may be changing our gut bacteria in a way that promotes inflammation—resulting in an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), metabolic syndrome and obesity.

For the study, some of the mice were given a human-equivalent dose of two common emulsifiers used in processed foods (polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulsose), while the others were fed a placebo. Afterward, researchers noted significant changes in the gut bacteria of the mice who received the emulsifiers. The altered bacteria were able to penetrate the intestinal lining and activate certain proteins that trigger an inflammatory response in the body. The results ranged from mild intestinal inflammation to chronic colitis, weight gain and metabolic syndrome.


According to study authors, cases of IBD and metabolic syndrome have risen dramatically since around the 1950s—about the time processed foods became extremely popular. They believe dietary changes may be a key factor, pointing out that food interacts “intimately” with our unique gut bacterial colonies, and the addition of chemicals such as emulsifiers may be causing a rise in inflammatory diseases.

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Fruits and veggies are a great way to make sure we get plenty of fiber and essential nutrients in the diet, and a good rule of thumb is to aim for five to nine servings of non-starchy veggies and low-sugar fruits each day. If this sounds like a challenge, here’s a tip: a good blender or juicer can make all the difference!

Below are four healthful and delicious one-serving juice recipes to help you boost your greens intake without a lot of sugar. With each one, just place all ingredients in a blender or juicer and blend until smooth.

green-juiceLean Green Juice
⅓ small cucumber
2 ribs celery
1 cup trimmed kale
1 cup baby spinach
3 sprigs fresh parsley
Juice from one lemon wedge
¼ Granny Smith apple

Lemon Kale Refresher
4 ribs celery
1 cup trimmed kale
⅓ lemon
¼ Granny Smith apple

Happy Digestion Juice
2 ribs celery
1 cup chopped green cabbage
⅓ lemon

Minerals with a Zing! Juice
½ cup trimmed kale
½ carrot
¼ cucumber
½ rib celery
¼ Granny Smith apple
⅓ lemon

Feeling creative? Add a few ounces of kefir or a tablespoon of nut butter to any of the above drinks to increase the protein and fermented food content. Or, if you prefer a sweeter blend, try adding a natural sweetener such as stevia or lo han (monk fruit).

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