Titanium oxide is a chemical that is utilized in an overabundance of products. It exists in gum, candy, chocolate, doughnuts, paint, paper, and plastic. It is used in mineral-based sunscreens to help with UV protection. Unfortunately, this makes it hard to avoid. Shockingly, scientists have recently proven that this food additive alters digestive cell structure. Specifically, chronic exposure to titanium oxide has a negative effect on our small intestine.
In a recent study from Binghamton University, scientists exposed a small intestinal cell culture to the physiological equivalent of a meal’s worth of titanium oxide nanoparticles. One test exposed the cell over four hours (acute exposure), and another three meal’s worth over five days (chronic exposure). What they found was that acute exposure had little effect on the intestinal wall, but the chronic exposure began to compromise the wall.
Within the intestinal wall, there are thousands of tiny projections that protrude from each individual cell. These projections increase the intestinal surface area allowing for greater nutrient absorption. The projections also offer additional shielding from pathogens trying to enter the blood stream. What this study has now proven is that chronic ingestion of titanium oxide diminishes these projections, weakening the intestinal wall and making us more susceptible to pathogens.
With less projections on the intestinal wall, metabolism is slowed. Iron, zinc and fatty acid become more difficult to absorb. In addition, inflammation increases. Chronic inflammation has been linked to more and more noncommunicable diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and pulmonary, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Although titanium oxide is considered safe by the food and drug administration, this study proves that long term exposure can certainly have an effect on us.
“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,” said Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Gretchen Mahler, one of the authors of the paper.
“To avoid foods rich in titanium oxide nanoparticles you should avoid processed foods, and especially candy. That is where you see a lot of nanoparticles,” Mahler said.
In addition to food, we ingest titanium oxide through toothpaste. It is the abrasive component in many main stream brands. It appears that this inert, insoluble material surrounds us everyday. Eating a whole food diet, and learning to read labels, will help you make safer choices.
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