Do Emulsifiers in Energy Pods Cause Inflammation? We Look at the Science of Lecithins

Do Emulsifiers in Energy Pods Cause Inflammation? We Look at the Science of Lecithins

When you add water to oil, they separate right away with oil rising to the top. An emulsifier is a food additive that allows fat to be dispersed in water to create a stable and homogenized solution. When added to Energy Pods, the emulsifier functions as a stabilizer, and texture enhancer and allows a full expression of flavors in our mouth. Currently, we use plant-derived lecithins in Energy Pods, at about 0.4g to 0.6g per Pod, and this may be subject to change as science continues to evolve in the food, health, and nutrition spheres.

Though lecithins, gluten-free, have shown several potential health benefits(eg. LDL lowering capacity in humans(1) and potential benefits concerning coronary heart disease(2)), inflammation is a word that gets tossed around in the nutrition, wellness, and health spheres. Let us look at the scientific evidence around inflammation and plant-based emulsifiers we use: sunflower lecithin and soy lecithin. It is interesting to note that lecithin can also be obtained from eggs which is why you will see many food recipes using eggs as a binding and stabilizing agent. Though there are slight differences between egg lecithin and plant-based soy and sunflower lecithins, they both function very similarly when it comes to practical uses. Lecithins can be additionally found in red meats, organ meats, seafood, grains, and certain cooked vegetables. Commercial soy lecithin, for example, contains soybean oil, phosphatidylcholine, phospholipids, and glycolipids.

It is important to note that human studies supersede trials conducted in rodents and cell cultures. Therefore, our focus will be on looking at human evidence on this matter.

Currently, we aren't aware of any direct evidence in humans that isolate lecithin as a contributor to inflammation. However, in patients with ulcerative colitis, this placebo-controlled study(3) noted that delayed release of lecithin improved the condition significantly compared to placebo patients. This was further reviewed in another paper(4) and another review paper noted the benefits of soybean phosphatidylcholine(a term used interchangeably with lecithin and is a source of dietary choline, an essential nutrient) supplementation when it comes to improving mucus layer integrity and mucus secretion(5). A previous double-blind placebo-controlled study(6) also noticed similar improvements using a delayed release of phosphatidylcholine among patients with ulcerative colitis. Scientists also purported(7) that phosphatidylcholine played a role in blocking hydrophobic bacteria and hydrophilic antigens from entering the intestines. A meta-analysis(8) summarizing various studies noticed improvements and remissions in ulcerative colitis along with an improved quality of life. It's interesting to note that evidence from rodents(9) that insufficient dietary choline, converted to phosphatidylcholine, may aggravate the severity of colitis!

Though science on inflammatory bowel diseases is constantly evolving(10) with lots of potentials (11), even as a potential anti-inflammatory agent(12), many charlatans in nutrition put the cart ahead of the horse when it comes to what the science says to sell alternative products, services, and subscriptions to desperate consumers. We recommend caution and looking at high-quality scientific evidence before taking a deep dive into any lifestyle and dietary change while consulting with reputable and credible practitioners. 

In a nutshell, lecithin is an excellent source of quality fats and choline(13) in the diet while showcasing several therapeutic and health benefits in human studies. We use them in our Energy Pods and will continue to evolve our product as the science comes our way. Go get some Energy Pods and let us usher in better foods for mankind.