I realized that the pain was the same sharp and intense pain that I experienced when I drank Slim Fast in a can years prior (the prepared type) so I did some research and discovered they had an unfamiliar ingredient in common – carrageenan.
Carrageenan is a gel produced from red seaweed and it's used as a thickener and emulsifier. There are two types - undegraded and degraded. Undegraded is allowed in food products.
Upon further research I discovered that consumption of carrageenan may have a role in intestinal inflammation and possibly inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers and maybe even stomach cancer. Some people may have an allergy or sensitivity to carrageenan and they may mistakenly believe they actually have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy or soy products since the ingredients is so prevalent in those types of products. If you’ve had this stomach/intestinal pain in the past and think you can’t eat dairy and/or soy, you may want to seek out products without carrageenan to see if that is your problem. Agar is similar so you may wish to avoid it as well.
The stuff is in a ton of products. I started using a new toothpaste and I couldn’t figure out why I was getting sore and red gums after using that particular kind but not with the natural toothpastes I had.. then I realized.. it had carrageenan in it. I had never even thought to look in my toothpaste for it and i was shocked that it caused me issues without even ingesting it. Close-Up Toothpaste is free from carrageenan if you want a less expensive alternative to natural toothpaste.
It may not affect everyone but if you’ve ever had any sort of stomach or intestinal pain, you may want to start avoiding it to see if it could be why you have issues.
It's rather difficult to avoid if you eat processed foods and dairy products. I no longer eat dairy, but when I did .. I know that Daisy sour cream is free of it and I did find one regional cottage cheese that didn’t have it in there but it’s difficult to find products without it. For me, I’ve found I can use small amounts (say a splash of soy milk on cereal or if it's in a non-liquid product) but if I drink a soy milk with it in there, say in a smoothie, I get really sick.
There are a few nut based milks that do not have it, but most do. It can also be found in infant formula so if your baby is having issues, please check for it.
The symptoms of a carrageenan allergy or sensitivity:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal cramps
Carrageenan is a seaweed derivative that is used in MANY foods and products… here are just a few things you’ll find it in:
- Dairy products: chocolate milk, eggnog, condensed milk, evaporated (canned) milk, milk powder, cheeses (such as cottage cheese, cream cheese), yogurts, spreads, whipping cream substitutes, puddings, whey
- Dried nuts and seeds, nut spreads
- Fat spreads and fat-based desserts
- Custard (frozen)
- Sherbets, sorbets, ice creams
- Dessert gels, fruit jellies
- Processed fruits, jams, pie filling
- Dried mushrooms, seaweeds
- Soybean products, such as soy milk
- Nut milks, such as almond milk
- Canned vegetables, legumes, fruits, meats and fish
- Pimento olive stuffing
- Processed meats, edible sausage casings
- Confectionery: chocolate
- Ready-to-eat cereals
- Pre-cooked pasta, soups
- Rice pudding, rice cake, tapioca pudding
- Processed egg products
- Vinegar, mustards, sauces (like barbecue), salad dressings, relishes and other condiments
- Dietetic foods for weight loss
- Infant formulas
- Dietary supplements
- Non-alcoholic drinks: energy and sport drinks, syrups
- Alcoholic drinks: apple cider, perry (from fermented pears), mead, beer, distilled beverages, aromatized alcoholic drinks
- Pills and syrups (like cough syrup)
- Air freshener gels
- Cosmetic products
- Dog foods and other pet foods
- Paints (water-based)
- Shoe polish
Carrageenan is also used to de-ice airplanes and in the Alien movies as saliva.
Here are a couple articles to read as well and the internet has lots more…