In this article I’m going to talk about cellulose, why it’s in dietary supplements and food products. I’m going to share what it really does plus the benefits and the negatives.
In the world of plants cellulose provides strength to cell walls. It’s a carbohydrate and some animals can digest it, but we humans can’t.
What this means is that it’s a fiber. For some people it’s difficult to understand how something we can’t digest can be so good for us. I’m sure you know fiber is healthy right?
It helps with weight loss by making you feel full, it helps with digestion, reducing blood sugar, cholesterol and more.
Even so most people don’t consume enough fiber. WebMD recommends adults get around 30 grams a day. Some people estimate that the average person in the U.S. gets 15 grams a day.
Adding cellulose to food increases the fiber content without changing the taste or flavor.
Another reason it’s added is to provide bulk to food, but not increase the calories. Of course sometimes they add sugar to it and that is different. When you see diet foods there is a good chance it will have cellulose in it.
Another great use for it is to thicken a liquid, like a sauce. For example do you like watery spaghetti sauce? No and it can be used to make spaghetti sauce thick, as well as other sauces.
It can be used in ice cream to thicken it as well as whipped cream.
At this point you might be wondering why it’s in dietary supplements. It can be used to combine vitamins and bulk up some that are liquid. It can be used to make it easier to swallow. Of course considering how big some supplement pills are maybe they are adding too much cellulose right?
It can also be used to protect the nutrients just like how it protects the cells of plants. We got some crazy stuff floating around the air and when air comes into contact with vitamins or herbal ingredients it can degrade the quality of it.
This is one reason liquid supplements usually are not that good. Some companies market liquid supplements that they are better for absorption.
According to consumer reports this is not true and from various tests the absorption rates are the same for liquid supplements and pills.
Another negative with liquid supplements is that you can’t put enteric coating on them and a lot of stuff gets destroyed by stomach acid.
Let’s talk about the negatives. The biggest risk to consuming cellulose really comes down to eating too much.
The signs of this could be constipation, having lots of gas, feeling bloated, being dehydrated because it absorbs water and ironically you could have diarrhea and even weight gain.