Hi, guys! I heard back from Silk about carrageenan and phytoestrogens and just wanted to share their response. Hopefully, their answers will help clear up any questions you might have!
Like many other food companies, we use Food Grade Carrageenan as a thickener and stabilizer. But first things first, there are two very distinct types of carrageenan. Food Grade Carrageenan, and Degraded Carrageenan (also known as Poligeenan). In many cases, it seems that “carrageenan” is used synonymously for both the food-grade and degraded versions, which in truth, and as science has pointed out, act very differently in the body.
Food Grade Carrageenan (the one we use) has been used in food since the 1930’s. And since being introduced has been monitored and reviewed in both the U.S. and Europe, and consistently been found to be safe for use in food. Degraded Carrageenan (also known as Poligeenan) IS NOT allowed in food production, nor is it contained in the Food Grade version. In large doses, degraded carrageenan has been found to cause unfavorable health effects in animal studies. As stated earlier, that’s where it seems the confusion and misinformation on this topic is based.
Rest assured that as a company we’re always monitoring for and reviewing emerging research and science around all of our ingredients, and will continue to do so to ensure that we’re using the safest, highest-quality ingredients we can in our products.
Additional Info about Tobacman Research:
There are a number of reasons why the Tobacman (the study referenced in many anti-carrageenan materials) research is confusing.
To start, Tobacman is putting carrageenan directly on cells in test tubes. These studies use very high doses of an ingredient (not reasonable physiological doses) because they are looking at signal transduction pathways in the cells. This is common practice in cell culture studies because when you’re trying to figure out which part of a biochemical pathway a component may effect, most researchers ‘max out’ the system by using high concentrations. They need to use these unreasonable high doses to elicit a response. Also, and importantly, putting a compound directly onto cells does not take into account the effects of digestion and absorption. In other words, this is not how it reaches cells in human bodies.
From a scientific perspective, cell culture studies should be looked at from two perspectives – they are used to provide data on the effects of the compound at the molecular level and they provide directional data for future studies in an animal/human model where digestion/absorption/physiology are taken into account.
Lastly, Tobacman would need to follow through with animal and clinical studies (human) which are necessary to validate her findings. There is no proof that food grade carrageenan causes digestive issues, especially considering the many other studies that have found it to be completely safe for human consumption (with clinical studies to back up the research).
We absolutely respect anyone’s choice and opinion to avoid foods that utilize carrageenan as an ingredient, though and in that case would encourage you to try our Pure Almond products.
Phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens are also known as isoflavones and don’t affect human estrogen levels. While the chemical structure of isoflavones is similar to estrogen, the two function very differently in the body in ways that can be demonstrated clinically.
Phytoestrogens have been studied for a number of health benefits including a potential role in supporting heart health, minimizing menopausal symptoms and reducing the risk of some forms of cancer. Not unexpectedly, both the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have concluded that soyfoods are safe for breast cancer patients.
Claims that soy causes feminizing effects in men or boys are not supported by scientific evidence. In fact, a 2010 review published in the Fertility and Sterility journal examined data from more than 150 studies and found that neither isoflavones nor soyfoods affected testosterone or estrogen levels, sperm count or breast size in men.
Finally, there is no scientific evidence that soy is unsafe for pregnant women. In fact, fortified soymilk like Silk is a delicious and convenient source of many nutrients that are important in pregnancy, including calcium and high-quality protein.
This post is sponsored by Silk. The thoughts and opinions expressed are all my own.