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Are chemicals in meal replacement shakes causing disabilities?

According to extensive scientific research, meal replacement shakes hardly live up to their name. These shakes are not composed of purely natural ingredients. They contain a large number of harmful synthetic compounds which can deteriorate the overall health of an individual in the long run.

Harmful Chemicals Present In Meal Replacement Shakes


Aspartame is usually used as a substitute of sugar in a number of meal replacement shakes. This synthetic compound is a potential neurotoxin which can cause cognitive defects like eventual memory loss, muscular spasms, hepatic dysfunction, migraines, and psychological disorders like mania, anxiety, and depression.

Aspartame directly affects the brain’s hypothalamus which controls most of the activities of the endocrine system, pituitary and thyroid gland, autonomic nervous system and other important body organs. Aspartame damages the hypothalamus due to which its control over different body organs and systems is lost. Aspartame is regarded as a toxic compound by FDA [1].


Maltodextrin is glucose syrup which is composed of genetically-redesigned corn. This corn contains contaminants like pesticides which deteriorate the neurological, psychomotor, respiratory, immune, and digestive system of an individual. This artificial sweeter also consumes the natural vitamins and mineral reservoirs of the body which leads to nutritional deficiency.

Sodium Phosphate

Sodium phosphate is the most commonly used additive in diet food. This compound works as a laxative and cathartic. Hence, consumption of sodium phosphate-containing meal replacement shakes often cause diarrhea in an individual. If this compound is used for a long time, it can cause permanent damage and malfunctioning of the duodenum which leads to the development of different bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.

Cellulose and Starch Gels

Cellulose and starch gels are used to thicken the meal replacement shakes and maintain a proper viscosity of the liquid supplement. They prevent the freezing and crystallization of synthetic sugar. These agents often cause GI distress and numerous allergic reactions. Some of these agents are often present in whey protein supplements.

Nutritional Deficiency

Meal replacement shakes do contain essential minerals and vitamins but in lower quantities as compared to a proper balanced meal. Also, these supplements are usually not provided with necessary antioxidants and phytonutrients which are extremely important in strengthening the body’s defense mechanism against invading pathogens and oxidative stress.

These supplements also lack dietary fiber which is a major component of a healthy diet. Fiber deficiency can lead to adverse effects like hemorrhoids, constipation, and diverticulitis.

Weight Gain and Fat Accumulation

Meal replacement shakes have high caloric value. Therefore, if they’re consumed along with usual diet, the extra calories will result in massive weight gain and accumulation of lipids, if proper exercise or any other physical activity like swimming or jogging is not carried out to burn these extra calories.

It must be remembered that even if you’re consuming these shakes to build up your muscles, they will only add up to the existing fat in your body if you don’t get indulged in proper strength-training.

Hence, it can be concluded that meal replacement shakes should never be given preference over regular healthy meals and they should only be consumed in special circumstances (like when a person is unable to ingest solid food) for a short time period.

Published in Disability News


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