More often than not we eat certain things believing them to be perfectly healthy for us when in fact, they're not. These things may not as such be harmful to our health on their own, but they contain certain ingredients that can prove to be rather deadly. A new study found that a common additive that is often used in foods like chewing gum and mayonnaise might just have the potential to substantially damage gut health.
This additive is known as E171 (titanium dioxide nanoparticles) and is used in rather high quantities in foods and medicines. It serves as a whitening agent. If you thought that chewing gum and mayonnaise are the only products it is used in, think again. This additive is added to as many as 900 types of foods and is consumed in huge quantities on a daily basis.
When a study was conducted on mice it was found that this additive could impact gut bacteria which could, in turn, lead to the onset of diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer. "The aim of this research is to stimulate discussions on new standards and regulations to ensure safe use of nanoparticles in Australia and globally," said one professor.
"It is well established that dietary composition has an impact on physiology and health, yet the role of food additives is poorly understood," added the professor. "There is increasing evidence that continuous exposure to nanoparticles has an impact on gut microbiota composition, and since gut microbiota is a gate keeper of our health, any changes to its function have an influence on overall health," the professor said.
"This study presents pivotal evidence that consumption of food containing food additive E171 (titanium dioxide) affects gut microbiota as well as inflammation in the gut, which could lead to diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer," he added. "Our research showed that titanium dioxide interacts with bacteria in the gut and impairs some of their functions which may result in the development of diseases," said another professor.
The researchers also suggest that while companies are adding the additive to their foods, it is also important to regulate the quantities in which the additives are being added. "This study investigated effects of titanium dioxide on gut health in mice and found that titanium dioxide did not change the composition of gut microbiota, but instead it affected bacteria activity and promoted their growth in a form of undesired biofilm. Biofilms are bacteria that stick together and the formation of biofilm has been reported in diseases such as colorectal cancer," the researchers said.