We all know that processed foods are bad for us. There are a handful of reasons why their consumption should be considerably limited, if not completely eliminated, from one’s diet. For instance, they are high in sodium that can wreak havoc on the blood pressure. Processed foods are also commonly devoid of nutrients that the body needs.
There’s one more reason why processed foods are frowned upon by health authorities, and that’s the fact that they contain additives. A lot of the most commonly used additives are known to have all kinds of detrimental effects on the health. According to recent studies, there is one additive that can increase a person’s risk of suffering from anxiety, and it’s what’s referred to as an emulsifier.
What is an Emulsifier?
An emulsifier is an agent that causes stabilization of an emulsion — put simply, it is added by food manufacturers to their goods in order to prevent liquid ingredients that do not naturally mix from separating. You can think of an emulsifier as something essential in order to make sure that a food product stays looking pretty or appetizing.
There are naturally-existing emulsifiers. However, in order to considerably reduce food manufacturing costs synthetic ones are commonly used. There are so many food products that contain emulsifiers, ranging from mayonnaise, margarine, sauces, ice cream, chocolates, baked goods to certain processed meats.
So what’s the big problem with emulsifiers? Based on numerous scientific investigations conducted on them in the past, emulsifiers can have unfavorable effects on the gut. Specifically, they can cause low-grade inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and upset the population of beneficial bacteria residing in the gut.
The Mood and Gut Connection
Perhaps you have heard or read time and again that exercising on a regular basis is good for the mood because it allows for the production of happy hormones that — just like what their name suggests — can leave you feeling happy. And by the way, those happy hormones can also help decrease pain perception, lower appetite, improve memory and optimize a person’s sleep pattern.
Actually, there are many different types of happy hormones, and one of them is referred to as serotonin. Are you aware of the fact that up to 90 percent of your brain’s serotonin levels is manufactured by the digestive system and not the brain? Specifically, it’s the good bacteria in your gut that are responsible for the creation of those happy hormones.
Needless to say, having more bad than good bacteria in your gut can hamper production of serotonin, and this is the reason why an unhealthy digestive system can have an impact on your mood. And just like what’s earlier mentioned, emulsifiers found in processed foods can actually wipe out beneficial bacteria living in your gut.
Keeping Your Gut Healthy
It goes without saying that you should steer clear of processed foods if you want to make sure that you have plenty of good bacteria in your small and large intestines and thus enjoy optimum levels of serotonin in your brain — removing emulsifiers from your diet can help fend off anxiety or keep it from worsening if it’s already around.
Aside from the intake of processed food products, there are also some very common habits that can harm those health-giving gut bacteria of yours. Some of them include cigarette smoking, excessive intake of alcohol, abuse of laxatives, unnecessary intake of antibiotics, and having too much stress.