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Sometimes I believe we don’t need more evidence that a fresh, wholefood, predominantly plant-based diet is the best choice for a healthy life. We know that processed food is often high in sugar and contains preservatives and other synthetic ingredients that can have negative health impacts. However, when I came across this article published in Nature showing that the emulsifiers added to many packaged foods can lead to severe gut changes and increase the risk of obesity, I was surprised. It made me wonder how many people are aware that the synthetic emulsifiers added to foods like bread and ice cream can have such profound effects.

We have talked about emulsifiers in our blog before (you can read it here). They are detergent-like molecules that are added to water and oil-containing skin care, allowing the oil and water to form a stable emulsion. Mokosh is one of the few brands that does not use emulsifiers – we don’t use them because their detergent action can upset the skin’s all-important barrier function. A detergent is something we definitely don’t need on our skin! 

Many people don’t realise that emulsifiers are also common additions to the packaged foods that are popular in western diets. In the study I found, the two emulsifiers that were examined were polysorbate-80 (E433, P80, may be added to ice cream, frozen desserts, pickles, bread, cakes, salad dressing, shortenings and chocolate), and carboxymethylcellulose (E466, or CMC, commonly added to  ice cream, margarine, bread, cakes, biscuits, jam and cheese products). When tiny quantities were fed to mice, they developed gut inflammation, a change in their gut microbiome, and metabolic syndrome – a tendency to become obese. Alarming findings to say the least! Equally concerning is that many other emulsifiers are used in processed foods, and their effects on the gut are still unclear.

The fact that we accept the inclusion of synthetic emulsifiers in our food, without truly knowing its effect on our bodies, is a symptom of the way of life we have become accustomed to. As our lives become busier, we look for the convenience of pre-prepared foods. It is tempting to purchase packaged foods rather than make it ourselves from fresh ingredients. What we may not realise is that manufacturers don’t create foods like we do at home. The product must have a long shelf-life – it mustn’t grow microorganisms, and it must look, taste and feel the same months after it was manufactured. This may require including a host of synthetic additives with still unknown, and potentially disastrous effects on our health. 

Getting to grips with the ingredient list on packaged food is a minefield – and it’s incredibly important that we educate ourselves and our loved ones on how to interpret them. Going for pure, whole foods, predominantly fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains and pulses, and making as much as possible from scratch is the safest and healthiest way to eat. The spin-off is that we can reduce our packaging waste and eliminate hidden palm oil – an almost ubiquitous ingredient in packaged food.

The same goes for skin care. Virtually all other skin care brands include water, emulsifiers and preservatives as standard ingredients. These ingredients give products a shelf-life, but at a potential cost to the health of our skin. In contrast, Mokosh’s water-free and synthetic-free products have a minimum 2 year shelf-life, providing they are stored below 30 degrees C. This means our range is as valuable for what it doesn’t contain (preservatives, emulsifiers and other synthetic ingredients) as for what it does contain (100% certified organic botanicals packed with antioxidants, vitamins, essential fatty acids and other plant nutrients). They are the junk food-free skin care you have been looking for. Your skin will thank you for it!


About The Author

Marion O'Leary

Mokosh Skincare was created by Marion O’Leary, a former veterinarian and medical scientist, in response to concerns about the health risks of ingredients used in virtually all skin care. She drew on knowledge from Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, and western science to formulate a range that is made using only 100% certified organic ingredients. She is convinced that skincare made this way significantly improves the health of the skin, in the same way that a whole food, synthetic-free diet is healthier for our bodies. Environmental sensitivities and social justice underpin the business ethos, with inclusion of fair trade ingredients, palm oil free certification, organic certification, cruelty free accreditation, packaging in glass and paper, and regular donations to environmental and humanitarian causes.

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