Simplifying Food Labels: A Quick Guide to Food Additives for Informed Dietary Decisions

Hello Everyone!

Today I am sharing a project I have been working on for myself. I have been increasingly concerned about food additives. I really liked the Food Babe’s additive list, however I found it to not have enough information or research on each of the items, so I wanted to create a comprehensive list of my own.

(For those of you who are not familiar with the “Food Babe,” her name is Vani Hari, and she is an author and activist advocating for healthier food choices through her blog and campaigns against specific additives and ingredients in processed foods.)

Arranged alphabetically, this compilation functions as a directory of food additives. Drawing insights from online sources, studies, trials, and more, it’s a comprehensive reference sheet I crafted for personal use and for anyone seeking this valuable information.

Here is my simplified version of my food additives list. All sources are listed on the main list.

For the full explanation list with sources, please see my other list: Decoding the Label: A Comprehensive Guide to Food Additives and How to Safeguard Your Diet

This list aims to keep explanations short and simple. Sometimes that isn’t enough information, so I have both lists if that helps you to make a decision. I hope you may find this list helpful.

Food Additives – Short Explanation List

Acacia Gum: (Undecided, but prefer to avoid – not enough data available on this gum)

Acacia gum, a natural substance, serves as a binder, stabilizer, and prebiotic in supplements. While generally safe, potential side effects may include rare allergies, digestive discomfort, and concerns about drug interactions or product quality. Studies suggest positive effects on gut health, particularly in chronic kidney disease,

Acesulfame K/Acesulfame Potassium: (Avoid)

Acesulfame potassium (ACE K), a sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar, has been associated with potential health risks. It contains methylene chloride, a carcinogen linked to headaches, depression, nausea, liver and kidney damage, visual disturbances, and cancer. Limited research suggests cognitive and neuro-metabolic effects, raising concerns about its safety, and opponents argue that insufficient scrutiny deems it unfit for consumption.

Acetic Acid: (Safe)

Acetic acid, the organic component of vinegar, is generally considered safe in normal doses but can be corrosive in high concentrations due to its acidic nature. It is commonly used in the food industry with an insignificant rate of adverse reactions when employed judiciously.

Ammonium Bicarbonate: (Appears safe but not preferable)

Ammonium bicarbonate, a leavening agent used in baking for over 120 years, helps baked goods rise but may impart an unwanted ammonia smell and taste. Not recommended for individuals with certain health conditions, its applications in modern baking are limited, with baking powder and baking soda being more commonly used leavening agents. While generally considered safe in normal food doses, caution is advised to avoid accidental inhalation.

Artificial Coloring: (Avoid)

Artificial food dyes, including Red Dye 3 and Yellow 5, have been associated with potential health risks such as thyroid and bladder cancer, as well as behavioral changes and increased hyperactivity in children. Studies suggest a connection between the elimination of artificial dyes and improvements in ADHD symptoms, while some dyes like Erythrosine (Red 3) pose controversial risks, including an increased risk of thyroid tumors in male rats. Contaminants in certain dyes, such as Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, may include known carcinogens, but conclusive evidence linking artificial food dyes to cancer is currently lacking.

Artificial Flavors: (Avoid)

Artificial flavors have been linked to neurotoxicity, organ damage, reproductive toxicity, and potential carcinogenic effects. Studies suggest that artificial flavoring can affect behavior, leading to hyperactivity, and removing foods with dyes has been associated with calmer dispositions in children. Additionally, artificial flavors, lacking nutritional benefits, are chemically produced and addictive, with potential short-term side effects such as headache and nausea, and long-term risks including cancer and central nervous system damage.

Artificial Sweeteners: (Avoid)

High-intensity sugar substitutes like acesulfame potassium (Ace K), aspartame, and sucralose are significantly sweeter than sugar and are commonly found in “diet” foods, but they can also appear in regular products. Concerns arise as some research suggests that artificial sweeteners may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and could induce unfavorable changes in the gut microbiome. Studies indicate that substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners might not lead to weight loss, and some findings connect sucralose and Ace K to increased inflammation in fat cells, potentially affecting insulin utilization and contributing to the creation of more fat cells. Stevia, considered a “natural” sweetener, is also highly processed, and evidence supporting its weight loss or blood sugar benefits is limited.

Ascorbic Acid: (Avoid)

Ascorbic acid, often considered synthetic vitamin C, is typically derived from GMO corn and has raised concerns regarding its health impacts. Studies suggest a potential link between synthetic vitamin C and the formation of genotoxins leading to cancer, arterial thickening, and reduced endurance capacity in athletes. Additionally, mass-produced citric acid and ascorbic acid, common in the food industry, have hidden GMO ingredients and are implicated in the creation of benzene, a human carcinogen, raising further safety concerns despite FDA approval.

Aspartame: (Avoid)

Research indicates that aspartame, an artificial sweetener, may have adverse effects such as impairing memory performance and increasing oxidative stress in the brain, based on animal studies. Pregnant and nursing women are advised to avoid aspartame, with a 2014 study suggesting a potential link to metabolic syndrome disorders and obesity in offspring. Common side effects of aspartame include headaches, migraines, mood disorders, dizziness, and episodes of mania.

BHT/BHA or Butylated hydroxyanisole/butylated hydroxytoluene: (Avoid)

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are antioxidants added to food to extend shelf life, particularly in cereal and dry goods. However, BHA is classified as a possible human carcinogen, and both substances can induce skin allergies. Long-term exposure to high doses of BHT in animals has shown toxicity, causing liver, thyroid, and kidney problems, affecting lung function, and acting as a potential tumor promoter. Additionally, environmental concerns exist, with BHA listed as a chemical of potential concern due to its toxicity to aquatic organisms, and BHT having a moderate to high potential for bioaccumulation in aquatic species.

Carageenan: (Avoid)

Carrageenan, derived from red algae and used as a thickener and emulsifier in various processed foods, is controversial due to studies suggesting links to gut inflammation, glucose intolerance, and impaired insulin action. Research indicates that carrageenan may be the worst gum additive in terms of allergic reactions, and concerns are raised about its potential inflammatory and toxic effects on the digestive tract, with possible associations to colitis, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, and colon cancer. Regulatory reviews raise alarms about the FDA’s lack of substantive examination despite evidence of potential health risks, including carcinogenic implications.

Caramel Color: (Avoid)

Caramel coloring, especially when produced with ammonia, can contain contaminants like 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, identified as carcinogens in studies on mice. The formation of carcinogens during the manufacturing process raises concerns about potential health risks, and some caramel coloring may also contain small amounts of gluten if derived from wheat, posing a concern for those sensitive or allergic to gluten. The recommendation is to avoid both natural and artificial coloring, particularly caramel coloring, to mitigate potential health risks.

Cellulose: (appeared to be unsafe)

Cellulose, commonly used as a dietary fiber and food additive, is generally considered safe but may raise concerns in certain contexts. Excessive intake, especially in processed forms, may lead to digestive issues and potentially interfere with nutrient absorption. Concerns include the potential for contamination, allergic reactions, alteration of gut flora, and lack of nutritional value. Studies suggest that carboxymethyl cellulose, a specific form of cellulose, may induce inflammation, affect gut flora, and lead to negative health outcomes, including increased risks for colon cancer. The FDA notes that cellulose is not absorbed by the human body and passes through, setting no limit on its content in processed food but imposing a 3.5% limit for meat products.

Citric Acid: (Avoid)

Citric acid commonly used as a food additive is manufactured through fermentation using Aspergillus niger, a black mold, raising concerns about potential allergic and inflammatory reactions. Aspergillus niger is associated with respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological, and musculoskeletal issues, and even with high-heat processing, fragments of the mold may persist, eliciting an inflammatory response. Despite its widespread use, there have been no human trials investigating the safety of manufactured citric acid (MCA), and case reports suggest significant symptom worsening in patients with chronic illnesses, leading to concerns about its impact on health.

Corn Maltodextrin: (Limit – See Maltodextrin for details)

Dextrose: (Limit: See Maltodextrin also)

Dextrose, a monosaccharide sweeter than maltodextrin, is extracted from plants and often produced from corn. Adverse reactions may occur in individuals allergic to corn, as dextrose is present in corn syrup used in processed and sweetened foods. Foods containing dextrose with little nutritional value and refined sweeteners should be limited in a balanced diet to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.

Emulisifers: (Some gums are safer but others not so much, see each for details)

Emulsifiers, including various gums, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), Polysorbate 80 (PS80), Maltodextrin, and Carrageenan, found in products like breads, alternative milks, dairy desserts, yogurts, condiments, and more, can disrupt the gut microbiome. They may thin the intestinal mucous lining, leading to leaky gut, allowing harmful bacteria to pass and causing inflammation in the gut and body. The impact of specific emulsifiers can vary, and some gums are considered safer than others.

Ethyl Alcohol/Ethanol: (Safe but not good for you)

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, is a food additive used in the food industry for various purposes, including distributing food coloring evenly, enhancing the flavor of food extracts, and acting as a solvent in the extraction of essential oils and flavors. It serves as a natural preservative, inhibiting the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and molds, and is used in fermentation, food processing, and as a renewable fuel source. While generally regarded as safe, some individuals may be sensitive to ethanol, and excessive consumption can lead to intoxication, liver damage, and other health issues.

Fractionated Oil: (Avoid)

Processed oils, such as palm oil, palm kernel oil, soybean oil, rice bran oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, corn oil, canola oil, and, in some cases, coconut oil, can be harmful when heated and cooled quickly, a process similar to hydrogenation. While the term “hydrogenated” may no longer be used on labels, these oils, if processed in a way that is not listed as trans fat, hydrogenated, or fractionated, can still pose health risks, potentially causing inflammation and other side effects. It is recommended to opt for unrefined or unprocessed oils to avoid these potential health concerns.

Fruit Pectin: (seems safe, if it’s natural pectin without additives)

Fruit pectin, a soluble fiber found in plants like apples, plums, and citrus fruits, is commonly used to thicken jams, jellies, and preserves. While the natural form of pectin is indigestible, modified citrus pectin (MCP), an altered form, can be digested. Some studies suggest MCP may have potential roles in slowing cancer growth and treating heavy metal toxicity, but larger, better-designed studies are needed for conclusive evidence. However, it’s important to note potential side effects, including stomach cramps and diarrhea, and interactions with certain medications or cancer treatments, making supervision advisable, especially for individuals allergic to citrus fruits.

Gellan Gum: (possibly safe, and might be better than other gums)

Gellan gum, a food additive used as a thickener or emulsifier, is produced through bacterial fermentation using a sugar source. Studies on gellan gum consumption have not found toxic effects, and it’s considered relatively safe for most people in small amounts. However, like other emulsifiers, gellan gum may potentially disrupt healthy levels of intestinal bacteria, leading to digestive issues in some individuals, such as slow digestion, abdominal bloating, excessive gas, and loose stools or diarrhea. While it’s generally approved by regulatory authorities, potential side effects may occur at high doses.

Glycerine: (Seems relatively safe, but not preferred. No health benefit and potential side effects)

While glycerin is widely used in the food industry for preserving moisture and enhancing texture, it is generally considered safe; however, oral consumption may lead to side effects such as a mild headache and nausea. Glycerin, a sugar alcohol, is derived from soap manufacturing or synthesized using various chemicals, posing potential safety concerns. Although deemed safe by regulatory bodies, ingesting large amounts at once can result in side effects like diarrhea, bloating, excessive thirst, nausea, or hyperglycemia, though typical levels in foods are not known to cause these effects.

Guar gum: (Safe to moderate – limit)

Guar gum, a food additive derived from guar beans, is generally considered safe but may cause side effects. When consumed in excessive amounts, it can lead to gastrointestinal issues like gas and bloating, and in rare cases, bowel obstruction or pulmonary embolism. While it may offer benefits such as blood sugar regulation and lowered cholesterol in moderate quantities, individuals with sensitive digestive systems or conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may experience adverse effects, and allergic reactions are rare but possible.

Inulin: (Seems safe but not preferred)

Inulin, a soluble fiber and prebiotic found in certain plants, offers health benefits, including improved digestive health and weight management. However, concerns exist about potential side effects, such as gastrointestinal distress, bloating, and increased gas, particularly for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or FODMAP intolerance. While inulin has a low caloric value and may slightly impact blood sugar levels, its benefits are generally recognized, and gradual introduction into the diet is recommended to monitor and manage potential side effects.

Lactic Acid: (Seems mostly safe but some side effects noted)

Lactic acid, produced during fermentation and found in various foods, is a natural organic acid with many types of bacteria that produce it considered probiotics, supporting a healthy gut microbiome. While approved by the FDA for use in most products, including as a food preservative, a study suggests that some individuals may experience brain fog, confusion, and short-term memory loss, as well as bloating and fullness after consuming lactic acid, making it a consideration for those aiming to stay mentally sharp or with sensitive stomachs. Overall, lactic acid is generally recognized as safe but may affect individuals differently.

Locust Bean Gum (Carob Bean Gum): (Seems safe, but prefer to avoid. There just have not been enough studies on it, therefore limited data, too many unknowns)

Locust bean gum, derived from carob tree seeds, is generally considered safe, but limited studies have led to some unknowns and a preference for avoidance. While it has potential health benefits, such as improved blood sugar levels and cholesterol, there have been reports of increased abdominal gas. Additionally, there is a potential for the fiber in locust bean gum to interfere with the absorption of zinc, iron, and calcium, and its safety for pregnant or breastfeeding women remains uncertain.

Maltodextrin: (not good for blood sugar but not toxic)

Substituting unprocessed starches with Maltodextrin may increase the glycemic load, leading to elevated sugar content, insulin response, fat storage, and potential weight gain, according to a 2016 study from the Netherlands. Another study from the University of South Carolina suggests that foods increasing the glycemic load may also contribute to inflammation, a major factor in chronic diseases.

Methylcellulose: (Avoid – Same thing, other name essentially)

(See Cellulose)

Monocalcium Phosphate/MCP: (Best to avoid. Appears to be cumulative, but Kidneys detox this. Anyone with Kidney disease however should avoid them entirely)

Monocalcium Phosphate (MCP), commonly used in the food industry as a leavening agent, may pose concerns due to its phosphate content. Excessive intake of phosphates, including those from additives like MCP, has been linked to potential issues with bone health, cardiovascular health, and kidney function. Individuals with kidney problems, metabolic disorders, or digestive sensitivities should be cautious, as high phosphorus levels, particularly from additives, can have adverse effects on health.

MSG: (BAD, avoid whenever possible)

MSG, sometimes concealed under various names like yeast extract, can lead to cumulative health issues such as migraines, obesity, seizures, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, infections, and Alzheimer’s disease. As a synthetic and accelerated flavor enhancer, MSG encourages overconsumption, potentially disrupting appetite and body weight regulation. Dr. Russell Blaylock notes in “Excitotoxins” that MSG can harm brain cells, especially in the hypothalamus, a key regulator of metabolism. The delayed reaction to natural glutamate and synthetic MSG can complicate sensitivity assessment, sometimes manifesting 24-72 hours later.

Natural Flavors: (Seems safe in certain cases, but not preferred)

Natural Flavors can vary due to what companies decide to use. Some companies use very synthetic flavoring while others use very simple flavors. It is more about trust in the brand, or reaching out to them to ask what they mean by that. If everything else looks good, the food has a higher likelihood of being safe.

Nitrates and Nitrites: (Avoid)

Nitrates and nitrites, commonly used as preservatives in processed meats, can form carcinogenic nitrosamines when exposed to high heat during cooking or digestion, raising concerns about their potential link to cancer and increased risk of premature death. Even meats labeled as having no added nitrates or nitrites may still contain naturally occurring sources, with similar health effects. Whether from synthetic or natural sources, these compounds have identical health implications, according to Department of Agriculture regulations.

Palm Fruit Oil: (Avoid)

Palm oil, widely used due to its affordability and stability at room temperature, has been linked to negative health effects, including increased cholesterol levels and the potential for plaque deposits in arteries, especially when reheated. Studies suggest that even small amounts of palm oil can raise cholesterol, and the process of reheating the oil may exacerbate its negative impact on cardiovascular health. Additionally, the environmental impact of palm oil production involves significant deforestation and poses threats to wildlife in regions like Indonesia and Malaysia.

Polysorbate 80: (Avoid)

Polysorbate 80, commonly used as an emulsifier in various products, including ice cream, has been associated with potential health risks, including an increased risk of cancer, endocrine disruption, organ toxicity, infertility, and reproductive issues. Research studies suggest that it may compromise proper gastrointestinal function by increasing intestinal permeability, potentially affecting nutrient absorption and interacting with pharmaceutical drugs. A study in mice found that polysorbate 80, along with another emulsifier, triggered gut inflammation, obesity, and metabolic syndrome, particularly impacting those predisposed to colitis.

Potassium Benzoate/Sodium Benzoate: (Avoid)

Potassium Benzoate, found in products like low-fat dressings, syrups, and jams, has been associated with potential health risks, including damage to DNA, allergic reactions such as hives and itching, and an increased risk of cancer due to the potential formation of benzene. Studies suggest a link between potassium benzoate and allergic reactions, hyperactivity in children, and carcinogenic concerns, particularly when exposed to heat and light. The preservative is known for its fungistatic properties, preventing the growth of fungi and spoilage in foods.

Potassium Sorbate: (Avoid)

Potassium Sorbate, commonly found in ice cream and baked goods, is associated with genotoxic and carcinogenic effects, leading to concerns about its safety. In 2012, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conducted a review that raised worries about the genotoxicity and carcinogenicity of potassium sorbate, resulting in its ban in Europe. Research suggests that increased intake of potassium sorbate may contribute to cytotoxic and genotoxic effects, potentially leading to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Propyl Gallate: (Avoid)

Propyl Gallate, a food additive and dietary supplement used to prevent fats and oils from becoming rancid, has raised concerns due to animal toxicity studies indicating slight toxicity when ingested. Some studies suggest a potential link between propyl gallate and an increased risk of cancer, and it has been associated with hormone-like compounds known as xenoestrogens, potentially impacting reproductive health. There are also concerns that propyl gallate may act as an “endocrine disruptor,” interfering with human hormones, particularly affecting early pregnancy by causing abnormal implantation and placental development.

Propylene Glycol: (Avoid)

Propylene Glycol, a synthetic chemical used as a liquid absorbent and widely present in cosmetics, has been associated with various health concerns, including cancer, reproductive issues, developmental delays, allergies, immune-toxicity, neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity, and disruption to the endocrine system. Even in concentrations as low as 2%, propylene glycol can cause significant skin irritation and sensitization in humans, according to the Agency for Toxic Substance & Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Saccharin: (Avoid)

Saccharin, once associated with a possible risk of bladder cancer in the 1970s, had a warning label removed by the FDA, but ongoing studies still link it to serious health conditions. Despite concerns, saccharin remains a primary sweetener in children’s medications, potentially contributing to photosensitivity, nausea, digestive upset, tachycardia, and certain types of cancer.

Sodium Bisulfite: (Avoid)

Sodium bisulfite, a food preservative, can lower thiamine content in rice and cause serious side effects, including allergic reactions. Sulfites like sodium bisulfite have been banned from fresh foods by the FDA due to allergic reactions, but they are still used in some cases, with potential side effects such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, hives, low blood pressure, and anaphylaxis. Sodium metabisulfite, a related compound, has been associated with reproductive organ damage, central nervous system effects, and skin reactions in vulnerable individuals.

Sodium bicarbonate/Baking Soda: (Safe)

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is generally safe but may alter the body’s pH at doses not typically found in food. Individuals with high blood sodium levels or hypertension should avoid sodium bicarbonate as it may increase blood pressure.

Sodium Chloride: (Safe)

Sodium chloride (table salt) is an essential nutrient found abundantly in nature, particularly in seawater and rock formations. However, table salt lacks trace minerals present in sea salt, such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, potentially making it less balanced in terms of nutritional content.

Sodium Phosphate: (Avoid)

Higher levels of phosphates in the blood have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. While sodium phosphate is considered safe by the FDA, individuals with kidney disease should avoid it, as excess phosphorus can strain the kidneys. Consuming too much phosphorus, including sodium phosphates, may have unwanted effects, particularly for those with kidney disease or high blood pressure, and it has been linked to increased cardiovascular risk.

Sorbitol: (Avoid)

Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener, can have unwanted side effects at high doses, including bloating, gas, and diarrhea due to its laxative effect. Its slow metabolism in the human body and poor absorption in the small intestine contribute to these digestive issues. Other potential side effects of sorbitol include abdominal pain, vomiting, black, tarry stools, and, in rare cases, allergies and dizziness.

Soy Lecithin: (avoid as much as possible)

Soy lecithin, often used as an emulsifying additive, is produced using hexane, a neurotoxin associated with gasoline production, raising concerns about potential residual hexane in the final product. While some individuals may have soy-related allergies or sensitivities leading to adverse reactions, regulatory standards aim to ensure safety. Additional concerns include the use of genetically modified soybeans, potential health dangers associated with GMOs, an increased risk of cancer due to phytoestrogens, and the possibility of birth defects and hormonal disruption.

Sucralose: (Avoid)

Sucralose, developed at King’s College, London, was initially intended to enhance the pesticide effect of chlorine by “bleaching” sugar molecules, attracting insects with its artificial sweetness and subsequently eradicating them. The artificial sweetener is about 600 times sweeter than sugar.

Tartaric Acid: (appears safe, no negative studies)

Cream of tartar is a byproduct of wine making, often confused with tartaric acid but less acidic. Tartaric acid, found in grapes and wine, has antioxidant properties and preventive effects on kidney stone formation, with an established acceptable daily intake. Both cream of tartar and tartaric acid are considered safe for consumption based on regulatory standards and toxicological studies.

Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate: (Avoid)

Tetrasodium pyrophosphate may cause short-term side effects like skin rash, visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, while long-term risks include toxin build-up, kidney damage, and teratogenic effects. Tetrapotassium Pyrophosphate raises concerns for specific populations such as newborns, children, pregnant individuals, and those sensitive to it. Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is associated with potential health risks, including kidney damage, soft tissue calcification, and bone calcium removal, with poisoning symptoms ranging from breathing difficulties to gastrointestinal issues.

Titanium Dioxide: (Toxic and unnecessary, not food)

Titanium Dioxide, a substance giving shine to products like Mentos, has been banned in the European Union due to concerns about its toxicity. It’s described as a nano-metal that triggers biofilm production, disrupting the natural gut ecosystem and impacting gut metabolites. The U.S. Center for Food Safety deems it “harmful and potentially poisonous.” While experts debate its cancer-causing potential, studies suggest it may not completely exit the body, leading to absorption into the bloodstream and potential damage to organs, contributing to inflammatory issues and DNA damage. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies titanium dioxide as a possible carcinogen to humans.

Trans Fats: (Avoid)

Trans fats, found in both naturally-occurring and artificial forms, raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. The World Health Organization has called for the elimination of trans fats, labeling them as a “toxic chemical that kills.” Artificial trans fats, created through an industrial process, are primarily found in partially hydrogenated oils in processed foods, posing a significant health risk. The U.S. FDA has determined that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food, emphasizing their adverse impact on cardiovascular health.

Trehalose: (Not worth the risk)

Trehalose, a sugar used to enhance flavor and extend shelf life in processed foods, has been linked to an increased risk of Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infections, which can cause inflammation of the colon and potentially be deadly. A study found that high amounts of trehalose overwhelm the body’s enzymes that break it down, encouraging the growth of C. diff. While the findings suggest a potential risk, it’s not recommended to eliminate trehalose from the diet for healthy individuals, but the hope is that reducing its use could mitigate strains causing more disease and fatalities.

Vegetable Cellulose: (Avoid – Also, deceptive!)

It is still the same as cellulose, in the sense that it is made from wood, cotton, and non-food cellulose.

“Vegetable cellulose,” derived from wood, cotton, and non-food cellulose, is a semantic distinction in food and drug additives, emphasizing a plant-based origin that extends beyond traditional vegetables to non-edible plant parts. This distinction, relevant for dietary preferences, can be seen as a marketing choice, making products sound more natural or appealing. Concerns include digestive issues, potential nutrient absorption interference, contamination, allergic reactions, and alterations to gut flora. Specific forms like carboxymethyl cellulose may have negative health outcomes, and although the FDA sets no limit on cellulose in processed food, a 3.5% limit applies to meat products.

Xanthan Gum: (Seems maybe safe but not preferred – not a lot of data, however it does not appear to have a good effect on the body)

Xanthan gum, derived from bacterial fermentation, has limited data on potential side effects. Animal studies show soft stools as the main notable difference, but no significant changes in growth rate, survival, blood markers, organ weights, or tumor incidence. High doses in rats demonstrated increased water content in the intestines, potentially affecting digestion, while a study on mice suggested potential anti-tumor properties. However, there are concerns about colonic distress and inflammatory effects in humans, particularly for those with Histamine Intolerance.

Xylitol: (Avoid)

Xylitol and other sugar alcohols like erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, and sorbitol may cause gastrointestinal side effects, including bloating, gas, cramping, and diarrhea, especially for individuals with sensitivities. Xylitol is specifically linked to potential weight gain, blood sugar issues, and digestive concerns. Additionally, sugar alcohol-based artificial sweeteners, including xylitol, are toxic to dogs and can be life-threatening, so caution is advised for pet owners.

Yeast Extract/(Hydrolyzed) Autolyzed Yeast Extract: (Seems safe but not preferred)

Yeast extract is an artificially produced fermented product commonly used as a flavor additive, and while not inherently harmful, it contains glutamates that may trigger symptoms for individuals sensitive to glutamate or MSG, leading to flushed skin and headaches. There are two types of yeast extract, autolyzed and hydrolyzed, with both involving the removal of cell walls. Some people choose to avoid yeast extract due to its glutamate content, similar to MSG.



To sum it up, knowing what’s in our food is important for staying healthy. When we understand different additives and what they do, it helps us make better choices. Being healthy usually means eating a mix of good food, and avoiding toxic additives is part of that.

Checking the ingredients on food labels is crucial for looking after our bodies, and the benefits of making smart choices in what we eat will pay off in the long run.

I hope you enjoyed this list.

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