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Food additive found in candy, gum could alter digestive cell structure and function

US-based researchers claim that a common food additive, titanium oxide, found in candy, chewing gum, bread and even toothpaste, slows down metabolism and significantly decreases absorption of nutrients like iron, zinc and fatty acids in the gut. Though non-fatal, scientists advise avoiding food rich in the additive, like processed foods and especially candy.

The ability of small intestine cells to absorb nutrients and act as a barrier to pathogens is ‘significantly decreased’ after chronic exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, according to research from Binghamton University, State University of New York. Researchers exposed a small intestinal cell culture model to the physiological equivalent of a meal’s worth of titanium oxide nanoparticles—30 nanometres across—over four hours (acute exposure), or three meal’s worth over five days (chronic exposure).

Acute exposures did not have much effect, but chronic exposure diminished the absorptive projections on the surface of intestinal cells called microvilli. With fewer microvilli, the intestinal barrier was weakened, metabolism slowed, and some nutrients—iron, zinc and fatty acids specifically—were more difficult to absorb. Enzyme functions were negatively affected, while inflammation signals increased.

The paper, ‘Titanium dioxide nanoparticle ingestion alters nutrient absorption in an in vitro model of the small intestine,’ was published in NanoImpact.

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