A recent study has revealed the ill effects of eating candies, chewing gums, and bread because of a common food additive – Titanium Oxide found in them.
According to a research from Binghamton University, of New York, scientists claim that chewing gum and bread could be bad for your health, because of the long-term exposure to the popular food additive which leaves the body more prone to infections.
The research suggests that titanium dioxide, found in a variety of foods as E171, damages cell structures inside the intestines; and not only does this allow for more harmful bacteria to enter the digestive system, but it prevents some nutrients from being absorbed.
Consuming titanium dioxide is nearly unavoidable. The compound is an inert and insoluble material that is commonly used for white pigmentation in paints, paper, and plastics. It is also an active ingredient in mineral-based sunscreens for pigmentation to block ultraviolet light.
However, it can enter the digestive system through toothpaste, as titanium dioxide is used to create abrasion needed for cleaning. The oxide is also used in some chocolate to give it a smooth texture; in donuts to provide color; and in skimmed milks for a brighter, more opaque appearance which makes the milk more palatable.
One of the authors of the study, a Biomedical Engineering Assistant, Professor Gretchen Mahler said; “Titanium oxide is a common food additive and people have been eating a lot of it for a long time — don’t worry, it won’t kill you! — but we were interested in some of the subtle effects, and we think people should know about them.”
A small intestinal cell model was exposed by the researchers to the equivalent of a meal’s worth of titanium oxide nanoparticles over four hours. Researchers also tested the same model with three meal’s worth over five days – deemed chronic exposure.
Although the acute exposure did not have much effect, chronic exposure to titanium dioxide, on the other hand, diminished the absorptive capacity of the surface of intestinal cells called microvilli.
Fewer microvilli were found to weaken their intestines and made zinc, iron and fatty acids more difficult to absorb. It was discovered that the ability to break food down was also negatively affected.
According to the researchers, to avoid foods rich in titanium oxide nanoparticles, you should avoid processed foods especially candy. Also, to further prevent collateral damage caused by the titanium dioxide nanoparticles present in packaged food is to avoid consuming them on a regular basis.
Mahler said; “There has been previous work on how titanium oxide nanoparticles affects microvilli, but we are looking at much lower concentrations. We also extended previous work to show that these nanoparticles alter intestinal function.”
In 2012, an Arizona State University study tested 89 common food products including gum, Twinkies, and mayonnaise and found that they all contained titanium dioxide. About five percent of products in that study contained titanium dioxide as nanoparticles.