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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"They Actually Eat That:" Cellulose Gum.

Ever wonder what "cellulose gum" actually is? It's one of those products that seems to be in everything, from shampoo to ceramics to ice cream. Just what the hell is this cellulose gum, and why does it seem to be in everything? This doesn't loop back to corn, does it?

This is NOT crack.


For once, no. Cellulose gum is one of the few things with no corn in it whatsoever. It is, however, a polymer with the alternate names of cellulose sodium glycolate and sodium carboxymethyl cellulose. Those names and the word "polymer" should tip you off to cellulose gum being, well, unnatural. Yeah, this one is almost entirely man's doing.

Now, usually, with a long name like that in an ingredient list, somebody's hiding what that ingredient really is. This one isn't terrifying enough to give you nightmares, but still quite weird: Cellulose gum is extracted from wood pulp and cotton cellulose. The resulting powder can absorb up to 20 times its starting weight. Only the purest cellulose gum is fit for human consumption; the rest gets put into shampoo or other non-edible things. That doesn't make me feel any better about seeing it in my food.

Even soup has it!


So, why is it in everything, anyways? Cellulose gum is almost a miracle polymer. It mixes things that would not normally mix very well. It is typically used to thicken or bind things. It also stabilizes the protein in protein drinks, makes sweet things sweeter (as the "-ose" might suggest), and helps keep ice cream just frozen enough. It is also oil-resistant, making it useful while drilling. Also, it's very cheap to make!

Cellulose, gum or not, cannot be properly digested by humans. It does not contain any health benefits; luckily, it is not harmful, either. Instead, it passes through our digestive tracts without so much as a scratch. Just think of it as eating paper.

And now we've got wood on this column. Great.

24 comments:

  1. "Just think of it as eating paper." Haha that cracks me up. Interesting article. I'm researching on toothpaste ingredients for my blog when I came across yours. Thanks for sharing this.

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  2. Polymers are not man-made, shows how little you know about basic chemistry. DNA is a polymer, you know, the stuff that holds all our genetic information?

    Cellulose is completely safe to eat. When you eat lettuce, spinach, broccoli, celery or any other plant you're eating a lot of cellulose.

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    1. Yea but lettus, spinach, brocolli, or celery is not the tree or cotton plant cellulose.

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  3. omgshrimpz, polymers are technically MAN MADE. The fractions (monomers) that WE bind together are natural though.
    Saying polymers are natural because of their natural origins is like saying trampolines are natural because the metals used in it were all originally underground as ores, and the plastic (also a polymer) was originally crude oil like the cellulose.
    And the cellulose in broccoli and such dont harness the same capabilities as the cellulose that is MAN MADE from monomers.
    I hate to be a smarmy **** but the guys on this site know what they're talking about mate :-)
    (Sorry about the bad comparison, I couldn't think of a better example ;-) )

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    1. ken directly from they artical above, and i quote " It is also oil-resistant, making it useful while drilling." howed they make it from oil????? reffering to "and the plastic (also a polymer) was originally crude oil like the cellulose."
      or does your writing just suck? not trying to be swarmy.... i will say the trampoline analogy was pretty good, and im pretty sure they dont use nice veggies as a base ingredient because broccoli is way more expensive than say waste cotton...if you like since in doing research for a job interview,at a top polymer manufacturer ill get back to you why its not used. im pretty sure ive seen vegetable cellulose, when i worked in specialty ice cream and cocao powders. but that was 20 yrs ago... ill book mark and and let you know also my ex is an english major let me know if you need a refresh....

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  4. And the feed my fishies is a good touch

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  5. Sorry dude. There's nothing inherently "man made" about polymers. Many capable materials scientists are women. But I digress ...

    Wool, silk, rubber, the cellulose in trees and grass and apples, and, yes, your own DNA ... all are polymers.

    Cellulose gum is a modified ingredient that comes from natural raw materials. Other examples would be wine, coffee, chocolate, bread, sugar, and cheese.

    It is completely harmless. But not because it's from a natural source. Hemlock, uranium, radium, arsenic, poison ivy, and cyanide all come from natural sources as well. Cellulose gum is harmless because ... drum roll ... there's nothing harmful in it.

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    1. But what is its function, its purpose in my toothpaste?

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. To maintain viscosity and thickness and also for mouth feel.
      http://www.ashland.com/products/aqualon-cellulose-gum , As the most important matrix, Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose has the function of paste fine, smooth and uniform, foam plentiful, and high stability. It can makes toothpaste good shape-maintaining and unusual comfortable mouthfeel. http://www.sino-cmc.com/html_products/Sodium-Carboxymethyl-Cellulose-Toothpaste-Grade-21.html

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    4. I'm sorry but you are wrong about them being harmless. There has been a huge spike in IBS and bowel diseases in people in the past few years. I read somewhere that the drug industry for IBS has more than quadrupled. Both my daughter and I have suffered for years with debilitating pain and gastric issues that doctors just couldn't figure out. When doing an elimination diet we found a few common triggers for both of us being: Gums (Xanthan, Guar, Cellulose, Locust etc.), Carrageenan & Annatto. I am not sure why they cause some people more trouble than others but the information I found online is some people are discovering they dont actually have IBS and its these substances that are in almost all of our food and dressings that are making people sick. Emitting this from our diet and eating clean is expensive and time consuming but since doing so we both can live a much more normal life as its reduced our GI pain and inflammation issues 10 fold.

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  6. Wow he said it has no nutritional value yet it won't hurt you well keep eating it.you will find yourself in a hospital bed on hospice very soon but enjoy it while you are slowly killing yourself

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  7. All I know is I'm sitting here drinking my supposedly healthy meal replacement shake, and I decide to google a few of the weird ingredients I see on the label, and now I'm afraid to put anything I buy in the supermarket in my mouth! What are all these crazy things the government is letting us eat?!?! I just researched carrageenan (also in the shake) and I'm terrified!!

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    1. LOL! I guess if you don't like seaweed (what carageenan is derived from). You probably wouldn't touch a California Roll (crab meat "sushi" roll).

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    2. I have gone gum free since October, as well as glutin free-most of the time- and have not had horrible panic (read vagal nerve disturbance)- attacks which were increasing in severity and up to daily,for several years, since the night I spent in ER after 3 days of recurring attacks with tach rate 120's until the tach became continuous pvc's and pac's the 3rd day...daughter (Natural foodie) advised me the next day to go on white food diet....I stuck to that rice ,egg ,milk ,boiled light meat,no caffeine, no fibrous veggies/fruits, no gluten for 2 months and had no attack after the first week....that is when I discovered gums are everywhere and my near miss tach attack that next week had come (by deduction) from breaking diet and eating dairy with carrageenan....So if one has guts with a plush lining and one ingests food with ground up plant fibers, ground into micro needles, i.e. pine and kelp, and those fibers are ground so fine they will work their way between the plush lining of celia and thus penetrate the base membrane of the gut causing inflammation and resulting wall destruction...well why are we surprised with Chrone's disease, IBS, Celiac disease, Leaky Bowel Syndrome...? I still get an occasional shaky period after eating, an accelerated heart rate for about an hour but no more bowel disturbance...this happens after eating an unexpected source of these gums, like half a fast foods biscuit....Today I ate a few pretzels then checked ingredients and there is the gum...what in heavens name is vegetable gum doing there? Answer to dodging this chemistry is home cooking...FDA is guilty of incompetence..they test foods in short term trials, days or weeks, but these fibers, which only were invented in the 60's....these fibers are a long term slow destruction of the digestive gut and the vagus nerve becomes itself inflamed and by eating the fibers which at once aggravate, you will see an aggravated asthmatic problem, adrenal reflex (panic) ,heart distubance from adrenal effect, stomach problems with acid, inflammation , reflux and peristalsis disturbances with constipation , diarrhea, or both,.and pain...bloating is just from disturbed peristalsis...unnatural micrbios is just a corrollary effect...change the gut environment and the eco balance adjusts in this case negatively...Medics treat symptoms and not root cause...for panic attacks (Vagal) the offered med Rx is psychotropics or cardios like beta blockers....no one I speak with at random...amazing how many of us are out there...has official diet guidance, but just experiment with gluten free and such...but many gluten free products are loaded with guar gum and carrageenan and other kinds of chemicals, none of which are in your basic home cook books ...

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    3. I have gone gum free since October, as well as glutin free-most of the time- and have not had horrible panic (read vagal nerve disturbance)- attacks which were increasing in severity and up to daily,for several years, since the night I spent in ER after 3 days of recurring attacks with tach rate 120's until the tach became continuous pvc's and pac's the 3rd day...daughter (Natural foodie) advised me the next day to go on white food diet....I stuck to that rice ,egg ,milk ,boiled light meat,no caffeine, no fibrous veggies/fruits, no gluten for 2 months and had no attack after the first week....that is when I discovered gums are everywhere and my near miss tach attack that next week had come (by deduction) from breaking diet and eating dairy with carrageenan....So if one has guts with a plush lining and one ingests food with ground up plant fibers, ground into micro needles, i.e. pine and kelp, and those fibers are ground so fine they will work their way between the plush lining of celia and thus penetrate the base membrane of the gut causing inflammation and resulting wall destruction...well why are we surprised with Chrone's disease, IBS, Celiac disease, Leaky Bowel Syndrome...? I still get an occasional shaky period after eating, an accelerated heart rate for about an hour but no more bowel disturbance...this happens after eating an unexpected source of these gums, like half a fast foods biscuit....Today I ate a few pretzels then checked ingredients and there is the gum...what in heavens name is vegetable gum doing there? Answer to dodging this chemistry is home cooking...FDA is guilty of incompetence..they test foods in short term trials, days or weeks, but these fibers, which only were invented in the 60's....these fibers are a long term slow destruction of the digestive gut and the vagus nerve becomes itself inflamed and by eating the fibers which at once aggravate, you will see an aggravated asthmatic problem, adrenal reflex (panic) ,heart distubance from adrenal effect, stomach problems with acid, inflammation , reflux and peristalsis disturbances with constipation , diarrhea, or both,.and pain...bloating is just from disturbed peristalsis...unnatural micrbios is just a corrollary effect...change the gut environment and the eco balance adjusts in this case negatively...Medics treat symptoms and not root cause...for panic attacks (Vagal) the offered med Rx is psychotropics or cardios like beta blockers....no one I speak with at random...amazing how many of us are out there...has official diet guidance, but just experiment with gluten free and such...but many gluten free products are loaded with guar gum and carrageenan and other kinds of chemicals, none of which are in your basic home cook books ...

      Delete
  8. Fiber also passes through the human digestive system without being absorbed. So...yeah, is fiber bad now?

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  9. Fiber also passes through the human digestive system without being absorbed. So...yeah, is fiber bad now?

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  10. The way it digests is the last of worries. Why would you want to eat cellulose made from wood or cotton? Things like this is why we are one of the number one nation's with cancer etc.. In my opinion

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  11. I agree w unkown..idc if it does or doesnt digest, harmful or not, we should not be eating wood or cotton no matter how fine it is. Another filler in our food that is only there to make it cheaper to make and last longe and make us sicker. And thus more money for the food companys who dont give a single shit about your health. And the hospitals and healthcare and pharmacys. They seem like they r all about the costomer but thats very untrue. It all always comes back to profits. The cellulose powder also in most parmaseon and grated cheeses to 'prevent caking'. Bs if my cheese is caked a little i can just shake it up. In short the government will alow damn near n e thing to be put in our food to slowly but surely kill us. We are the most unhealthy country, pay the most for healthcare, and have the most cancer. Y? Because all of that means more money for the big corp.s running them. And most people still trust their government. Lets wake up here people and do your own research and see their real agenda!

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  12. A gummy substance that is a sodium salt of carboxymethyl cellulose; used as a thickening or emulsifying agent.

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  13. "If man makes it , I don't eat it." Jack LaLanne. What words of wisdom from the Godfather of Fitness.

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  14. if you want to be healthy make it yourself with organic products, never trust anything on the supermarket shelf. I am Gluten, corn, nitrat, sulphite and salicylate free. I had to learn the hard way by getting very sick and going thru an awful lot of pain. I have just been CORNED by my Chemist switching myantihistamine to a CORN FREE ONE well after 6 days of excruciating joint and body pain I am exhausted but on the road to recovery.To think we are feeding our children carcinogens and Mothers are feeding them to their babies in their breast milk so what hope has the human race in avoiding cancer. It is all too sad. No I am not paranoid or a health freak, just telling it like it is

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