Recent research from Sydney provides evidence that nano-particles of food additives especially E171 which is present in most of the foods have a significant and unfriendly influence on the human body.
The research-based its findings on food additive E171 the titanium dioxide nanoparticles. It is used in a large amount mainly in the food and medicine industry as a whitening agent. It is a very common food additive found in more than 900 food products including chewing gum and mayonnaise. Food additive E171 is consumed by a large group of the population every day in a very high proportion.
The research paper “Impact of the food additive titanium dioxide (E171) on gut microbiota-host interaction” was published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition on 12th April 2019.
The research carried out in mice showed that consumption of E171 food additive would affect the gut microbiota which is a large group of bacteria living in the gut triggering the disease like colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
According to the research “While TiO2 had minimal impacts on the composition of the microbiota in the small intestine and colon, we found that TiO2 treatment could alter the release of bacterial metabolites in vivo and affect the spatial distribution of commensal bacteria in vitro by promoting biofilm formation.
“We also found reduced expression of the colonic mucin 2 genes, a key component of the intestinal mucus layer, and increased expression of the beta-defensin gene, indicating that TiO2 significantly impacts gut homeostasis.”
The co-lead author Associate lecturer Wojciech Chrzanowski emphasized that the study emphasized on the nanoparticle toxicity and safety and its effect on the human body and surroundings.
He explained, “The aim of this research is to stimulate discussions on new standards and regulations to ensure the safe use of nano-particles in Australia and globally.” Although the food additive E171 is commonly used in many sectors of our daily life like medicines, food, and clothing, researchers fail to clearly understand the long term effects of these nanoparticles.
Since the last decade consumption of titanium dioxide has increased tremendously and is already linked with several medical conditions. There is insufficient evidence about its safety however; it is still approved as a food additive.
Increased exposure to these nanoparticles has triggered several diseases lately like increasing rates of dementia, eczema, cancer metastasis, asthma, auto-immune diseases, and autism.
“It is well established that dietary composition has an impact on physiology and health, yet the role of food additives is poorly understood,” said an Associate Lecturer Chrzanowski, a nanotoxicology expert from the University of Sydney’s School of Pharmacy and Sydney Nano Institute.
“There is increasing evidence that continuous exposure to nanoparticles has an impact on gut microbiota composition, and since gut microbiota is a gatekeeper of our health, any changes to its function have an influence on overall health.”
He further 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.”
“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. We are saying that its consumption should be better regulated by food authorities,” said Associate Professor Macia, who is an immunologist expert on the impacts of the gut and gut microbiota on health from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Charles Perkins Centre.
Co-lead author Associate Professor Laurence Macia from the University of Sydney said: “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,”