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Cellulite: Inevitable or Preventable?

Cellulite: Inevitable or Preventable?

Few conditions are more sensationalized, yet poorly understood, than cellulite. What really is behind that dreaded lumpy flesh? Exploring the research elucidates hormonal, genetic, and other factors linked to cellulite development, answers common questions regarding the condition, and provides guidance towards minimizing its development.

Cellulite: Inevitable or Preventable?

Cellulite: Inevitable or Preventable?

Few conditions are more sensationalized, yet poorly understood, than cellulite. What really is behind that dreaded lumpy flesh? Exploring the research elucidates hormonal, genetic, and other factors linked to cellulite development, answers common questions regarding the condition, and provides guidance towards minimizing its development.

Study: Adding Color to Your Plate May Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline

Study: Adding Color to Your Plate May Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline

Harvard scientists prove that diet can help prevent cognitive decline. Regularly eating certain plant foods, such as strawberries, oranges, and peppers, that contain abundant flavonoids— plant chemicals that act as antioxidants—helps to keep an individual’s thinking skills sharp with advancing age. The research indicates that compared to those individuals with the lowest flavonoid consumption, those with the highest experience a 20% lower risk of cognitive decline.

Species of Gut Bacteria Linked to Enhanced Cognition and Language Skills in Infant Boys

Species of Gut Bacteria Linked to Enhanced Cognition and Language Skills in Infant Boys

The gut bacteria, Bacteroidetes, boost neurodevelopment in infants. The study, published in Gut Microbes, explains that Bacteroidetes produce metabolic products called sphingolipids that facilitate the formation and structure of neurons in the brain. The research indicates that male children at age one with Bacteroidetes-dominant gut microbiota demonstrate enhanced language and advanced cognition skills at age two.

Pandemic Drives Largest Decrease in U.S. Life Expectancy Since 1943

Pandemic Drives Largest Decrease in U.S. Life Expectancy Since 1943

‘“It’s like nothing we’ve seen since World War II,”’ he [Steven Woolf, MD] said. ‘“1943 was the last time the US had such a large decrease in life expectancy.”’

Virginia Commonwealth University released a report examining the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on life expectancy worldwide. The study, led by Woolf, reveals US statistics that are lower than those of 16 peer countries and that expose racial disparities, with life expectancy dropping 3.88, 3.25, and 1.87 years for Hispanics, blacks, and whites, respectively.

Exposure to Pollutants, Increased Free-Radical Damage Speeds Up Aging, per WVU-Led Study

Exposure to Pollutants, Increased Free-Radical Damage Speeds Up Aging, per WVU-Led Study

A study from West Virginia University researchers reveals that unrepaired DNA damage, caused by exposure to cigarette smoke, industrial chemicals, ozone, and other pollutants, triggers the body to produce free radicals that accelerate aging. Poor nutrition and other unhealthy lifestyle factors also increase free radicals, as do normal metabolic processes. This coupled with excessive toxin exposure overpowers the body’s ability to eradicate free radicals and advanced aging manifests.

5 Natural Non-toxic Alternatives to Botox

5 Natural Non-toxic Alternatives to Botox

Botox is a protein created from the Botulinum toxin that causes botulism, a poisoning characterized by difficulty breathing, paralysis, and even death. In fact, Botox itself can cause breathing difficulties, anaphylaxis, and other perilous side effects.

To avoid these health risks and still achieve smooth, taut skin, maintain a lifestyle that includes anti-aging practices, foods, and nutrients, such as exercising, eating berries and greens, and applying non-toxic sunscreen, and use natural, age-defying skincare products.

New Cleveland Clinic Research Identifies Link between Gut Microbes and Stroke

New Cleveland Clinic Research Identifies Link between Gut Microbes and Stroke

Research from Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute indicates that the gut microbiome not only influences stroke severity but also affects functional impairment after a stroke. Dietary choline and to a greater extent TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide), which gut microbes produce when digesting animal products, amplify stroke size and severity as well as post-stroke motor and cognitive deficits. Scientists note that dietary changes could lower TMAO levels and consequently stroke risk.

5 Ways to Stimulate Neurogenesis

5 Ways to Stimulate Neurogenesis

Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons (nerve cells) are created in the brain. Research shows that neurogenesis contributes to learning and memory and is essential for robust brain function. In fact, various conditions, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, are triggered when neurons die.

As one ages, living a life that facilitates brain health becomes increasingly critical. Running and swimming, fasting, meditation, and other lifestyle practices stimulate neurogenesis to maintain and boost brain function.

Tooth Loss Associated with Increased Cognitive Impairment, Dementia

Tooth Loss Associated with Increased Cognitive Impairment, Dementia

A recent analysis, led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, evinces that tooth loss raises the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Even more telling, among study participants, each additional missing tooth increased cognitive impairment and dementia in a step-wise manner, 1.4% and 1.1% per tooth respectively. Researchers note that dentures appear to provide a protective effect, eliminating the link between diminished cognitive function and tooth loss.

How to Improve Your Gut Microbiome in a Day

How to Improve Your Gut Microbiome in a Day

The gut microbiome affects metabolism, digestion, nutrient absorption, mental health, disease risk, immunity, and much more. An unbalanced microbiome or dysbiosis, caused by a poor diet, chronic stress, antibiotics, and other lifestyle factors, fuels disease, from obesity and brain fog to diabetes and cancer.

Positive lifestyle changes can reverse dysbiosis relatively quickly. Consuming wholesome non-processed foods, adding probiotics and digestive enzymes to one’s supplement regimen, and meditating can all facilitate a gut reset.

Want to Be Robust at 40-Plus? Meeting Minimum Exercise Guidelines Won’t Cut It

Want to Be Robust at 40-Plus? Meeting Minimum Exercise Guidelines Won’t Cut It

UCSF research indicates that high physical activity throughout life best maintains health, lowering the likelihood of developing hypertension, which raises heart attack and stroke risk, as one ages.

Amazon Indigenous Group’s Lifestyle May Hold a Key to Slowing Down Aging

Amazon Indigenous Group’s Lifestyle May Hold a Key to Slowing Down Aging

A lifestyle of hunting, gathering, fishing, and farming is paramount to avoid dementia and cognitive and functional decline as one ages, according to a study conducted by USC researchers. Senior author Andrei Irimia, PhD, assistant professor of gerontology, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering, and his team examined the Tsimane of the Bolivian Amazon, who are very active and eat only vegetables, fish and meat, and discovered that their brains age 70% slower than those of Westerners.

Effortlessly Upgrade Summertime Health with 7 Tasty Herbal Teas

Effortlessly Upgrade Summertime Health with 7 Tasty Herbal Teas

Ditch the “summertime sugar bombs” like smoothies and iced lattes and relish refreshing, salubrious teas. While those desiring a caffeine boost may choose to drink black, red, green, or white tea, imbibing herbal tea avoids the jitters while bolstering health. From hibiscus and peppermint tea’s antiviral properties to rooibos tea’s rich mineral content to turmeric tea’s anti-inflammatory qualities, these herbal beverages and others are the ultimate health hack.

Food Additives: A “Gummy” Subject

Food Additives: A “Gummy” Subject

Chances are, inspecting any bottled, bagged, or otherwise packaged food will reveal a longer than expected ingredient list that includes foreign substances, known as food additives, that the typical consumer does not recognize. Three of the most common, yet underdiscussed additives are xanthan gum, guar gum, and sodium benzoate. Find out what these substances really are, discover their uses in the pharmaceutical and food manufacturing industries, and most importantly, determine whether they elicit negative health effects.

The Dangers of Fluoride on the Brain and IQ with Dr. Mark Burhenne

The Dangers of Fluoride on the Brain and IQ with Dr. Mark Burhenne

Dr. Mark Burhenne, DDS, functional dentist, asserts that fluoride is a toxin. He states that research indicates that if a woman is pregnant and drinking fluoridated water or adding tap water to her infant’s formula, her child’s IQ can drop several points. Studies also demonstrate fluoride’s ability to promote neurotoxicity, arthritis, and osteosarcoma or bone cancer and even influence metabolism. Using fluoride to just avoid, on average, one extra cavity is simply not worth the risk, he stresses.

News Flash

Dr. Eric Berg: The Health Benefits of a Cucumber

Dr. Ken Berry: Weight Watchers -vs- KETO Showdown! (What the Research Shows)

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Study: Adding Color to Your Plate May Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline

Study: Adding Color to Your Plate May Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline

Harvard scientists prove that diet can help prevent cognitive decline. Regularly eating certain plant foods, such as strawberries, oranges, and peppers, that contain abundant flavonoids— plant chemicals that act as antioxidants—helps to keep an individual’s thinking skills sharp with advancing age. The research indicates that compared to those individuals with the lowest flavonoid consumption, those with the highest experience a 20% lower risk of cognitive decline.

Species of Gut Bacteria Linked to Enhanced Cognition and Language Skills in Infant Boys

Species of Gut Bacteria Linked to Enhanced Cognition and Language Skills in Infant Boys

The gut bacteria, Bacteroidetes, boost neurodevelopment in infants. The study, published in Gut Microbes, explains that Bacteroidetes produce metabolic products called sphingolipids that facilitate the formation and structure of neurons in the brain. The research indicates that male children at age one with Bacteroidetes-dominant gut microbiota demonstrate enhanced language and advanced cognition skills at age two.

5 Natural Non-toxic Alternatives to Botox

5 Natural Non-toxic Alternatives to Botox

Botox is a protein created from the Botulinum toxin that causes botulism, a poisoning characterized by difficulty breathing, paralysis, and even death. In fact, Botox itself can cause breathing difficulties, anaphylaxis, and other perilous side effects.

To avoid these health risks and still achieve smooth, taut skin, maintain a lifestyle that includes anti-aging practices, foods, and nutrients, such as exercising, eating berries and greens, and applying non-toxic sunscreen, and use natural, age-defying skincare products.

Exposure to Pollutants, Increased Free-Radical Damage Speeds Up Aging, per WVU-Led Study

Exposure to Pollutants, Increased Free-Radical Damage Speeds Up Aging, per WVU-Led Study

A study from West Virginia University researchers reveals that unrepaired DNA damage, caused by exposure to cigarette smoke, industrial chemicals, ozone, and other pollutants, triggers the body to produce free radicals that accelerate aging. Poor nutrition and other unhealthy lifestyle factors also increase free radicals, as do normal metabolic processes. This coupled with excessive toxin exposure overpowers the body’s ability to eradicate free radicals and advanced aging manifests.

Cellulite: Inevitable or Preventable?

Cellulite: Inevitable or Preventable?

Few conditions are more sensationalized, yet poorly understood, than cellulite. What really is behind that dreaded lumpy flesh? Exploring the research elucidates hormonal, genetic, and other factors linked to cellulite development, answers common questions regarding the condition, and provides guidance towards minimizing its development.

How to Improve Your Gut Microbiome in a Day

How to Improve Your Gut Microbiome in a Day

The gut microbiome affects metabolism, digestion, nutrient absorption, mental health, disease risk, immunity, and much more. An unbalanced microbiome or dysbiosis, caused by a poor diet, chronic stress, antibiotics, and other lifestyle factors, fuels disease, from obesity and brain fog to diabetes and cancer.

Positive lifestyle changes can reverse dysbiosis relatively quickly. Consuming wholesome non-processed foods, adding probiotics and digestive enzymes to one’s supplement regimen, and meditating can all facilitate a gut reset.

Amazon Indigenous Group’s Lifestyle May Hold a Key to Slowing Down Aging

Amazon Indigenous Group’s Lifestyle May Hold a Key to Slowing Down Aging

A lifestyle of hunting, gathering, fishing, and farming is paramount to avoid dementia and cognitive and functional decline as one ages, according to a study conducted by USC researchers. Senior author Andrei Irimia, PhD, assistant professor of gerontology, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering, and his team examined the Tsimane of the Bolivian Amazon, who are very active and eat only vegetables, fish and meat, and discovered that their brains age 70% slower than those of Westerners.

Tooth Loss Associated with Increased Cognitive Impairment, Dementia

Tooth Loss Associated with Increased Cognitive Impairment, Dementia

A recent analysis, led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, evinces that tooth loss raises the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Even more telling, among study participants, each additional missing tooth increased cognitive impairment and dementia in a step-wise manner, 1.4% and 1.1% per tooth respectively. Researchers note that dentures appear to provide a protective effect, eliminating the link between diminished cognitive function and tooth loss.

5 Ways to Stimulate Neurogenesis

5 Ways to Stimulate Neurogenesis

Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons (nerve cells) are created in the brain. Research shows that neurogenesis contributes to learning and memory and is essential for robust brain function. In fact, various conditions, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, are triggered when neurons die.

As one ages, living a life that facilitates brain health becomes increasingly critical. Running and swimming, fasting, meditation, and other lifestyle practices stimulate neurogenesis to maintain and boost brain function.

Effortlessly Upgrade Summertime Health with 7 Tasty Herbal Teas

Effortlessly Upgrade Summertime Health with 7 Tasty Herbal Teas

Ditch the “summertime sugar bombs” like smoothies and iced lattes and relish refreshing, salubrious teas. While those desiring a caffeine boost may choose to drink black, red, green, or white tea, imbibing herbal tea avoids the jitters while bolstering health. From hibiscus and peppermint tea’s antiviral properties to rooibos tea’s rich mineral content to turmeric tea’s anti-inflammatory qualities, these herbal beverages and others are the ultimate health hack.

Pandemic Drives Largest Decrease in U.S. Life Expectancy Since 1943

Pandemic Drives Largest Decrease in U.S. Life Expectancy Since 1943

‘“It’s like nothing we’ve seen since World War II,”’ he [Steven Woolf, MD] said. ‘“1943 was the last time the US had such a large decrease in life expectancy.”’

Virginia Commonwealth University released a report examining the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on life expectancy worldwide. The study, led by Woolf, reveals US statistics that are lower than those of 16 peer countries and that expose racial disparities, with life expectancy dropping 3.88, 3.25, and 1.87 years for Hispanics, blacks, and whites, respectively.

New Cleveland Clinic Research Identifies Link between Gut Microbes and Stroke

New Cleveland Clinic Research Identifies Link between Gut Microbes and Stroke

Research from Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute indicates that the gut microbiome not only influences stroke severity but also affects functional impairment after a stroke. Dietary choline and to a greater extent TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide), which gut microbes produce when digesting animal products, amplify stroke size and severity as well as post-stroke motor and cognitive deficits. Scientists note that dietary changes could lower TMAO levels and consequently stroke risk.

Want to Be Robust at 40-Plus? Meeting Minimum Exercise Guidelines Won’t Cut It

Want to Be Robust at 40-Plus? Meeting Minimum Exercise Guidelines Won’t Cut It

Researchers at UCSF dispel the current notion that short workouts confer adequate health benefits and that even governmental guidelines recommending at least two-and-a-half hours of exercise per week are sufficient to maintain health, particularly normative blood pressure levels. Their study, including 5,000 plus adults, showed a step-wise decline in the likelihood of developing hypertension, which raises heart attack and stroke risk, with increased physical activity throughout life.

Food Additives: A “Gummy” Subject

Food Additives: A “Gummy” Subject

Today’s modern human diet poses a stark contrast to that of just a few hundred years ago. Large scale factory food production and processing have permanently altered the way the world perceives food. Even health conscious consumers selecting items labeled “paleo” or “all natural” encounter baffling product ingredient lineups longer than a weekly grocery list. While consumers frequently eschew substances such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and high fructose corn syrup, three equally common, foreign substances that pervade food labels include xanthan gum, guar gum, and sodium benzoate. So, what really are these additives, and do they pose health risks?

What Are Food Additives?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines food additives as any food component not attributed to the food itself, including indirect and direct additives. While packaging and processing procedures may produce the former in trace amounts, direct food additives include any substances introduced into comestibles for a specific purpose, such as improving production, processing, packaging, flavor, freshness, and more. Of note, the FDA acknowledges that only “most direct food additives are identified on food labels.”

The FDA does regulate food additive safety, but admits that it can “never be absolutely certain of the absence of any risk from the use of any substance.” Even the widely denounced flavor enhancer MSG, which the Mayo Clinic acknowledges at a minimum may cause headaches, nausea, chest pain, and other ills, holds FDA approval and GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status, eliciting concerns regarding the organization’s regulatory practices.

Xanthan gum, guar gum, and sodium benzoate all hold FDA GRAS status, but definitively ascertaining whether their consumption is prudent warrants a deeper investigation exploring today’s existing research.

The Gums: Xanthan and Guar

Xanthan and guar gum serve similar purposes: food emulsification (helping fats mix evenly), stabilization, and texture enhancement via their absorbent nature and food-thickening abilities. They also possess similar chemical compositions; both are polysaccharides (long chains of simple sugar molecules).

Foods most often containing these gums include sauces, plant-based milks, juices, and packaged baked goods (cookies, breads, etc.), especially gluten-free options.

While cooking and baking enthusiasts might use these gums interchangeably, their origins are distinct. The nonpathogenic bacterium Xanthomonas campestris produces xanthan gum when it ferments simple sugars or starches. Dissimilarly, manufacturers extract guar gum from Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (a legume) seeds.

To create the finalized products, xanthan and guar gum powders, from these living origins requires extensive processing. Do such manufacturing procedures render these additives unwholesome and mandate their avoidance? The science elucidates.

Examining the Science: Xanthan and Guar Gum

Government agencies do not provide a defined xanthan and guar gum ADI (acceptable daily intake). Multiple studies have involved human subjects consuming as much as fifteen grams per day without negative effects. This does not reflect “normal” intake, however, as common foods including gums, such as baked snacks or processed beverages, contain less than 0.35% to 1% gum by weight or approximately one gram. Unfortunately, no studies exist evaluating long-term, low dose gum intake that more accurately reflects typical consumer consumption.

Therapeutic Uses: Xanthan and Guar Gum

While xanthan and guar gum are more commonly considered food enhancers, these substances have also been investigated therapeutically regarding their ability to promote healthy cholesterol levels, bolster satiety, and help manage blood sugar. Although, achieving healing effects generally requires high dosages.

When a Food Additives and Contaminants study fed five men approximately ten grams of xanthan gum daily (a large quantity) for twenty-three days, their total blood cholesterol levels significantly reduced by 10%.

Further, Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry published an article demonstrating that healthy rats fed xanthan and guar gum for two weeks exhibited significantly lowered total and LDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, diabetic rats fed the same mixture for four weeks showed substantially lowered triacylglycerol levels (another marker of unhealthy high cholesterol). Of note, these results may not apply to humans, as rat diets included more than ten times the upper limit of human gum consumption.

Regarding satiety, the research provides inconsistent results. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that ingesting six grams per day of guar gum may aid satiety in both the immediate and long term, and also assist weight loss by preventing snacking. Still, Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fiber found opposing results. When twenty healthy men drank apple juice containing similar quantities of added guar and xanthan gum, their blood glucose, insulin levels, and satiety were no different than those of men imbibing normal juice.

The Downsides: Xanthan and Guar Gum

Although the aforementioned beneficial uses might paint the gums as healthful, arguably more substantial downsides exist, including gastrointestinal problems, microbiome disruption, and chemical cross-contamination.

At their essence, xanthan and guar gum are indigestible fibers. Thus, they may cause flatulence, bloating, and even diarrhea. Xanthan gum is even cited by researchers as “a highly efficient laxative.”

Turning attention to the microbiome and gut health, a study published in Research in Veterinary Science evokes concerns. Researchers fed young pigs infected with a pathogenic E. coli strain either plain rice or rice containing 10% guar gum by weight. The latter portion represents an extremely high gum content, but the study’s results are still noteworthy. Pathogenic E. coli proliferated far more abundantly within the pigs’ intestines among those that ate guar-gum-infused rice versus plain. Additionally, the guar-gum-fed pigs gained less weight overall (a negative effect since the pigs were still growing), but developed heavier, enlarged colons that suggested gastrointestinal dysfunction and dysbiosis (an intestinal imbalance between healthy and pathogenic bacteria). 

Beyond these potential side effects, processing procedures may introduce chemical cross-contamination. As previously mentioned, a bacterium produces xanthan gum via fermenting carbohydrates. Often, wheat or corn acts as the chosen starch medium. Although most producers label their gums “gluten free,” individuals demonstrating gluten sensitivity, such as those with celiac disease (an autoimmune gluten allergy), should exercise caution. No existing studies have definitively exposed gluten-contaminated xanthan gum, but since its production could employ gluten-rich wheat, the possibility of contamination exists.

Legume-derived guar gum merits consideration too, since legumes contain lectins and phytates, both inflammatory molecules linked to gut issues, headaches, and more. Especially relevant, seeds contain high lectin concentrations, and guar gum is seed-derived. No research currently explores whether these lectins directly cause negative side effects, but the possibility seems probable.

Moreover, dioxins (chemicals defined by the World Health Organization as highly toxic and potentially linked to reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, hormone disruption, and some cancers) pollute some guar gum. In 2008, the European Union laboratory analyzed Indian guar gum (80% of the world’s guar gum) and found dioxin concentrations 1000 times greater than the acceptable levels.

The Bigger Question: Processing

The gums may hold some therapeutic value, but generally only via immense quantities that also pose potential health risks, such as bloating and dysbiosis. Most imperative, these food enhancers are highly processed and therefore unnatural.

Revisiting xanthan gum’s processing procedures, scientists induce a bacterium to ferment carbohydrates (usually corn or wheat) that then produces a slime-like gel product that manufacturers compress, sterilize, separate via mixing with isopropyl alcohol and finally grind and package. The result is a colorless, scentless additive.

Guar gum follows a similar process, but starts with highly processed guar splits, the remnants after manufacturers remove the endosperm, husk, and germ (major plant components) from the Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (guar) seed.

These additives do not fit optimal nutritional principles, including whole, unprocessed foods and diets most aligned with ancestral eating patterns, which included predominantly tubers, plants, and animals. These aliments have fit human biology for many millennia, while today’s recent farming and industrialized food processing practices pose stark contrasts. The result?—a disconnect between what the human body craves, and what the modern human consumes. As processed foods have become increasingly ubiquitous, disease and ill health have simultaneously followed suit. Even based upon concrete research, straying from ancestral dietary principles likely interferes with attaining abundant health. Thus, eating heavily processed gums and other additives can compromise well-being.

Existing research makes it even clearer. After reviewing numerous studies, researchers concluded that nearly all food processing reduces a food’s nutritional value and often oxidizes fat molecules (chemically changes the fat molecules resulting in different, unnatural structures). Food and Chemical Toxicology linked fat oxidation to cancer, brain-degenerative disorders, and overall inflammatory reactions.

Sodium Benzoate

Sodium benzoate represents an entirely different food additive category: preservatives. Despite its prevalence, it is unfamiliar to most consumers. Typical foods containing sodium benzoate include soft drinks, sauces, condiments, and bottled, non-100% juice concoctions.

This preservative does not occur naturally, and is instead highly processed and laboratory synthesized from two chemical compounds—benzoic acid and sodium hydroxide. While most benzoic acid used to create sodium benzoate is laboratory-derived, benzoic acid does occur naturally in berries, tomatoes, and certain spices. On the other hand, sodium hydroxide is strictly a laboratory-synthesized chemical. It is an ingredient in most drain cleaners and soaps and demonstrates highly caustic and flammable properties.

The FDA recognizes sodium benzoate as GRAS (at a maximum of 0.1% concentration in foods and an ADI of five milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight per day). Still, the science supports consumers exercising caution.

The Science: Sodium Benzoate

Sodium benzoate has been investigated therapeutically regarding urea cycle disorders and multiple sclerosis (MS). A few potential positive applications have been elucidated, though these required ingesting far greater quantities than the FDA specified ADI. Research suggesting this additive poses a health threat, however, is prevalent.

Therapeutic Uses: Sodium Benzoate 

Sodium benzoate is commonly used to treat urea cycle disorders (problems excreting degraded products from protein consumption). A Gastroenterology and Hepatology review concluded that the additive represents a plausible adjunctive therapy for hepatic encephalopathy, a serious neurological disorder attributed to urea cycle dysfunction and other liver complications. Patients consumed more than ten times the ADI to achieve these results.

Clinically administered sodium benzoate may potentially help to treat MS as well. Neurochemistry Research found that in the laboratory setting, growing human brain cells in the preservative’s presence significantly augmented CNTF (a molecule important to prevent MS) production. Moreover, mouse brain cells incubated with sodium benzoate produced fewer inflammatory molecules, which may help thwart MS development. In both studies though, researchers noted a need for additional research and that downsides do exist, such as the requisite high doses to produce the observed outcomes.

The Downsides: Sodium Benzoate

First, consumers can easily overconsume sodium benzoate considering its pervasive use among food manufacturers. Additionally, multiple studies link the additive to neurological dysfunction, such as impaired memory and even attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), negative DNA alterations, and microbiome disruptions.

Exceeding the sodium benzoate ADI occurs commonly, especially in children due to their lower bodyweight. For example, a child weighing less than 84 lbs. who consumes two soda bottles and a portion of jam and ketchup exceeds the ADI. Even the average adult ingests 1.4 times the recommended limit.

Beyond dosage, its neurological effects raise major issues. Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology published findings that even low sodium benzoate concentrations impaired mouse memory and motor coordination after only four weeks. Additionally, the preservative decreased brain glutathione levels (an important antioxidant that aids in preventing brain damage). An African Journal of Biotechnology review examined this idea further, scrutinizing several studies that evaluated ADHD and hyperactivity symptoms among children. The authors concluded that surpassing the five milligrams per kilogram ADI (considered a common occurrence) provoked said symptoms.

A cell-based study from BioMed Research International evinces that sodium benzoate affects more than the brain. The researchers discovered that human lymphocyte cells (a type of white blood cell) treated with small amounts of the preservative exhibited DNA mutations that fostered cell abnormalities, malfunction, and even death. A Food and Chemical Toxicology lymphocyte study revealed similar results. Low sodium benzoate doses stimulated DNA breakage and mutation. The researchers recognized that while further investigation is necessary, at least within an in vitro (laboratory cell-based) environment, this additive can cause significant DNA damage.

This preservative also appears to affect the gut. An in vitro study from Folia Microbiologica concluded that common food additives, including sodium benzoate, can greatly decrease the beneficial and anti-inflammatory microbiome bacterial species L. paracasei. Additionally, research in Molecular Genetics and Metabolism found that when obese humans ingested the additive, their anthranilic acid levels (a marker of liver failure) surged. Gut microbes normally break down and remove anthranilic acid, so researchers hypothesized that sodium benzoate may have altered the subjects’ intestinal bacteria, inducing impaired anthranilic acid metabolism and potential liver complications. Note that both studies employed sodium benzoate concentrations that modeled average adult consumption.

The Bottom Line

Additive-containing foods are ubiquitous in modern life and often highly palatable as well as convenient. Still, science indicates that ingesting xanthan and guar gum and sodium benzoate does not help to achieve optimal health. The bottom line?—avoid food additives.

Medically Reviewed: Meaning, Purpose, and Intent
THE provides research-based, leading-edge health and wellness news and insights to help readers prevent and reverse chronic and acute maladies so as to live a disease-free, vital life. To that end, original content is medically reviewed by a medical (MD or DO) or naturopathic doctor (ND, NMD, or DNM) or a doctor of philosophy (PhD) for authenticity, validity, and accuracy, ensuring that THE’s content reflects relevant and reliable information. Please click the Medical Reviewer’s name to review his/her credentials.

Larry

Jameelah A. Melton, MD, MBA

Jameelah is a physician entrepreneur who is committed to developing innovations that improve healthcare access. She currently works with Anthem’s health management team to support clinical care initiatives. Prior to this role, Jameelah served as a medical director and consulting strategist several for digital health companies including TouchCare, backed by Fortress and Echo Health, and ODH, part of Otsuka Holding’s portfolio. Her work in health care innovation includes founding a pediatric direct primary care hybrid practice, telehealth initiatives, care management application development, and analytics. Dr. Melton’s passion for creating change within healthcare stems from her work as a practicing pediatrician in North Carolina. While caring for patients, she saw opportunities for lean care and technology to re-establish connections with patients in a way that could improve their health. Since 2012, she has been on a mission to develop services and applications that achieve these ends.

Dr. Melton’s educational background includes undergraduate and medical degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University. She completed her pediatric residency training at Duke University. Jameelah also holds an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business where she concentrated in health sector management.

The Dangers of Fluoride on the Brain and IQ with Dr. Mark Burhenne

The Dangers of Fluoride on the Brain and IQ with Dr. Mark Burhenne

Dr. Mark Burhenne, DDS, functional dentist, asserts that fluoride is a toxin. He states that research indicates that if a woman is pregnant and drinking fluoridated water or adding tap water to her infant’s formula, her child’s IQ can drop several points. Studies also demonstrate fluoride’s ability to promote neurotoxicity, arthritis, and osteosarcoma or bone cancer and even influence metabolism. Using fluoride to just avoid, on average, one extra cavity is simply not worth the risk, he stresses.

Effortlessly Upgrade Summertime Health with 7 Tasty Herbal Teas

Effortlessly Upgrade Summertime Health with 7 Tasty Herbal Teas

Ditch the “summertime sugar bombs” like smoothies and iced lattes and relish refreshing, salubrious teas. While those desiring a caffeine boost may choose to drink black, red, green, or white tea, imbibing herbal tea avoids the jitters while bolstering health. From hibiscus and peppermint tea’s antiviral properties to rooibos tea’s rich mineral content to turmeric tea’s anti-inflammatory qualities, these herbal beverages and others are the ultimate health hack.

BPA Exposure during a Pandemic

BPA Exposure during a Pandemic

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examining bisphenol A (BPA) exposure reveals that people with the highest exposure compared to those with the lowest had an astounding 49% higher risk of death.

BPA, an endocrine disruptor, not only hides in plastics but also in paper towels, toilet paper, and dental materials.

COVID-19 has prompted excessive hand sanitizer usage, and research shows that it acts a “gateway” for chemicals to absorb in the body.

Dr. Kara Fitzgerald suggests ways to lower BPA exposure.

First Months Decisive for Immune System Development

First Months Decisive for Immune System Development

The risk of developing autoimmune conditions is largely determined by early life events, such as breastfeeding. New research published in the journal Cell indicates that breastmilk provides unique complex sugars vital to nourishing certain gut bacteria, particularly bifidobacteria, that lower inflammation in the blood and gut. Scientists also observed that breastfed babies who received additional bifidobacteria exhibited elevated levels of intestinal molecules that optimize nutrient synthesis and immune system function.

Bacterium Associated with Antibiotic-Induced Colitis Plays a Role in Weight Control

Bacterium Associated with Antibiotic-Induced Colitis Plays a Role in Weight Control

A study in Nature reveals that Clostridioides difficile, a bacterium linked to antibiotic-induced colitis and diarrhea, fuels weight loss, highlighting the integral role that the gut microbiome plays in metabolic processes. The research, which involved 80 women who consumed only 800 calories per day, showed that dieting changed intestinal diversity and composition enabling Clostridioides to flourish. The altered microbiome absorbed more sugar molecules, making fewer available for host absorption.

High Physical Activity Levels May Counter Serious Health Harms of Poor Sleep

High Physical Activity Levels May Counter Serious Health Harms of Poor Sleep

A study investigating the associations between sleep and exercise and disease and death published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine indicates a synergistic effect of exercise and sleep on health. Findings show that compared to highly active individuals who sleep soundly, relatively inactive people who sleep poorly have a 57% higher risk of death from any cause. The study further demonstrates that exercise provides a protective effect against poor sleep.

It’s True: Stress Does Turn Hair Gray (And It’s Reversible)

It’s True: Stress Does Turn Hair Gray (And It’s Reversible)

Stress can cause gray hair according to researchers from Columbia University. More interestingly, their study reveals that eliminating stress can actually enable hair to regain its natural color. The study’s lead author, Martin Picard, PhD, associate professor of behavioral medicine, explains that the data suggest that there is a threshold in middle age where excess stress can facilitate the transition from pigmented to gray hair, revealing that aging may not be a simple linear, fixed process.

6 DEET Dangers (Plus, Safer Science-Backed Swaps)

6 DEET Dangers (Plus, Safer Science-Backed Swaps)

This summer, consider supplanting DEET with natural alternatives. This insect repellent, while effective, poses various health threats. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that DEET possesses carcinogenic properties, and a study in Human and Experimental Toxicology indicates that DEET can encourage seizures in children. Other implicating research abounds; fortunately, plant-derived essential oils can provide protection from summer pests.

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Understanding Gut Inflammation May Hold Clues to Mitigating Parkinson’s Onset

Understanding Gut Inflammation May Hold Clues to Mitigating Parkinson’s Onset

Research in Free Neuropathology reveals that sustained intestinal inflammation causes a certain protein to clump in the colon walls and immune cells. The same protein aggregates in the brains of Parkinson’s patients.

Regular Use of Acid Reflux Drugs Linked to Heightened Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Regular Use of Acid Reflux Drugs Linked to Heightened Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The journal Gut reports that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), drugs used to treat acid reflux, peptic ulcers, and heartburn, starkly raise type 2 diabetes risk.

Depression Doubles Risk of Death after Heart Attack, Angina

Depression Doubles Risk of Death after Heart Attack, Angina

Research shows that among those diagnosed with coronary heart disease, depressed individuals are twice as likely to die following the diagnosis compared to their more optimistic counterparts.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Even Mild Disease Impacts Mental Health

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Even Mild Disease Impacts Mental Health

A study in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry reveals that even a mild COVID-19 infection can provoke psychiatric symptoms that last months or perhaps years following disease resolution.

Delta Coronavirus Variant: Scientists Brace for Impact

Delta Coronavirus Variant: Scientists Brace for Impact

The Delta variant is causing coronavirus cases to rise in Europe, the US, and other countries. Delta is approximately 60% more transmissible than the highly infectious Alpha variant and vaccines only provide moderate protection.

Hospitalised Shift Workers Up to 3 Times More Likely to Be Covid-19 Positive

Hospitalised Shift Workers Up to 3 Times More Likely to Be Covid-19 Positive

Research in Thorax reveals that working non-traditional hours, as shift workers do, drastically raises the risk of contracting COVID-19 and being hospitalized.

Little-Known Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome

Little-Known Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a condition linked to impaired dopamine function in the brain. Systemic inflammation, immune dysregulation, SIBO, and other health problems can engender this condition. Addressing these root causes can ameliorate this disorder.

Does Your Anxiety Get Worse at Night? 6 Steps to Manage Evening Anxiety

Does Your Anxiety Get Worse at Night? 6 Steps to Manage Evening Anxiety

Smart lifestyle choices can facilitate a peaceful night’s rest. Research shows that morning and evening sun exposure decreases anxiety and taking supplements such as magnolia bark and reishi quells angst to produce sound sleep.

Unhealthy Patterns of Diet, Exercise, and Sleep Linked to High Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Autistic People

Unhealthy Patterns of Diet, Exercise, and Sleep Linked to High Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Autistic People

Autistic individuals die 16 to 35 years earlier than expected. Research evinces that eating habits, physical activity, and sleep patterns could help to explain this phenomenon.

A Fermented-Food Diet Increases Microbiome Diversity and Lowers Inflammation, Stanford Study Finds

A Fermented-Food Diet Increases Microbiome Diversity and Lowers Inflammation, Stanford Study Finds

Research from Stanford shows that a diet containing fermented foods boosts gut microbial diversity and reduces inflammatory markers associated with disease while a fiber-rich diet does not.
The Many Uses of Manuka Honey for Wound Healing & Skin Conditions

The Many Uses of Manuka Honey for Wound Healing & Skin Conditions

Studies indicate that manuka honey possesses antimicrobial properties, promotes the formation of new skin in the wound healing process, relieves atopic dermatitis, and more.

The Trouble with Stevia

The Trouble with Stevia

Research shows that stevia exhibits endocrine-disrupting attributes that can have both positive and negative physiological effects. This non-nutritive sweetener can also alter the gut microbiome and under certain conditions even fuel dysbiosis.

New Study Links Exercise to Better Self-Control

New Study Links Exercise to Better Self-Control

University of Kansas scientists proved that following a regular exercise program can improve delay discounting and therefore self-control in individuals of different ages, sizes, athletic abilities, and mental-health levels.

Cells Burn More Calories After Just One Bout of Moderate Aerobic Exercise, OSU Study Finds

Cells Burn More Calories After Just One Bout of Moderate Aerobic Exercise, OSU Study Finds

Oregon State University scientists discovered that mitochondria, the body’s cellular powerhouses, burn fat and sugar at a higher rate following just one hour of moderate intensity exercise.

20 Ways Exercise Benefits Your Health (Part Two)

20 Ways Exercise Benefits Your Health (Part Two)

Part Two of this two-part series delivers additional proof that exercise is medicine for all, from reducing gestational diabetes risk in expectant mothers to thwarting macular degeneration among older adults to lowering COVID-19 risk.

Aluminum in Everyday Products – Is It Really Safe?

Aluminum in Everyday Products – Is It Really Safe?

Aluminum is found in the soil, mineral compounds, and rock, but not in the human body. According to experts, chronic aluminum exposure can fuel pneumonia, asthma, cardiovascular thrombosis, intestinal permeability and numerous other ills.

Environmental Contaminants Alter Gut Microbiome, Health

Environmental Contaminants Alter Gut Microbiome, Health

A jarring review from U of I illustrates that environmental toxins alter the gut microbiome in such a way that foils proper carbohydrate and fat metabolism and fuels immune dysfunction as well as behavioral impairments and neurological damage.

Air Pollution Exposure During Pregnancy May Boost Babies’ Obesity Risk

Air Pollution Exposure During Pregnancy May Boost Babies’ Obesity Risk

Research in the journal Environmental Health indicates that a pregnant woman’s exposure to high air pollution levels is linked to increased infant adiposity (degree of fattiness) during the first six months of life.

Feeling Younger Buffers Older Adults from Stress, Protects against Health Decline

Feeling Younger Buffers Older Adults from Stress, Protects against Health Decline

Research in Psychology and Aging shows that people who feel younger than their chronological age experience greater vitality, including sharper mental faculties, lower inflammation, and overall superior welfare.

Is Bleeding at Your Age Normal?

Is Bleeding at Your Age Normal?

Conditions such as uterine polyps and fibroids can cause postmenopausal bleeding, as can certain drugs. Experts assert that eating a hormone-balancing diet, utilizing acupuncture, and implementing other lifestyle interventions can promote pelvic health.

6 Ways Cold Exposure Helps Slow – and Even Reverse – Your Aging Roll

6 Ways Cold Exposure Helps Slow – and Even Reverse – Your Aging Roll

Brief bodily stresses like fasting or short-term cold exposure bestow health benefits. Icy conditions stimulate the body’s anti-aging mechanisms and cellular repair while quelling inflammation and oxidative stress.

Study Gauges Specific Site Stomach Cancer Risks among Ethnic Groups

Study Gauges Specific Site Stomach Cancer Risks among Ethnic Groups

A study conducted by Vanderbilt University reveals that minority gastric cancer risk is seven times that of Caucasian Americans’, with Asian Americans disproportionately suffering from this condition.

Push Is on in US to Figure Out South Asians’ High Heart Risks

Push Is on in US to Figure Out South Asians’ High Heart Risks

South Asians account for 60% of all heart disease cases. High diabetes rates, a propensity toward abdominal weight gain, a diet rich in processed foods, sedentary living and other factors fuel this crisis.

Memory Loss, Dementia an Understudied Yet Widespread Phenomenon among Chinese Americans

Memory Loss, Dementia an Understudied Yet Widespread Phenomenon among Chinese Americans

Chinese Americans lack the proper support as they age, say Rutgers researchers, who examined cognition and memory loss and found health disparities that can be attributed to cultural and other barriers.