Is It Possible For This Food Ingredient To Make Our Gut Bacteria Go Against Us?

Titanium dioxide nanoparticles combined together creates a well-known additive; E171, which is used utilized as a coloring agent in many items. Till now, this additive has a conflicts whether it is safe but new findings in mice has given proof that it can cause the gut to be vulnerable to the disease.

This food additive, E171, is used by manufacturers for whitening numerous products which include chewing gum, cake icing, candy and many more. Although, the inclusion of this substance causes some products more attractive, there are some continuous conflicts about its well-being.

France, for example, has decided to remove the usage of E171 in food items from next year as there are issues of health problems related to this additive. The research conducted in mice that had been seen last year in Scientific Reports, connected the usage of E171 to the introduction of colon cancer tumors.

Further on, a research in vitro, issued in the journal Environmental Science: Nano in April this current year, discovered that E171 can cause an alteration of normal cell function and maintain in the gastrointestinal tract, which could signify that the substance can disrupt the gut’s self-protective mechanisms. In this month, another research was performed in mice which has unfolded new proof that this well-known additive can ‘prime’ the gut for infection.

The study – the results which are shown in Frontiers in Nutrition – demonstrates how E171 can change the activity of gut bacteria in possible threatening ways. “It is well established that dietary composition has an impact on physiology and health, yet the role of food additives is poorly understood,” adds the co-lead author Wojciech Chrzanowski, Ph.D., who is an associate professor at the University of Sydney in Australia.

“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 says.

This additive changes the attitude of the bacteria

“The aim of this research is to stimulate discussions on new standards and regulations to ensure safe use of nanoparticles in Australia and globally,” demonstrates Chrzanowski. Chrzanowski and his team gave E171 to the mice in their water, then checked the substance’s result on the gut microbiota. The researchers also performed experiments in vitro. It was discovered that titanium dioxide particles had very minimal or no effect on the formation of the gut bacteria.

Nevertheless, in observing the mice, they got to know that the component impacted the release microbial metabolites – molecules created by the bacteria – which contact with their biological environment, acting as a passage between the gut bacteria and their host.

In vitro experiments it was evident that titanium dioxide, changed the distribution of bacteria in the gut, which conducted the development of biofilm. It is a sticky ‘network’ which changes the behavior of the bacteria and it is also able to influence the immune system’s reply to the disease. Further on, biofilms do not react to regular methods of treatment for example antibiotics, which can cause a fierce enemy to be messed with.

“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,” describes the study’s other co-lead author, Laurence Macia, Ph.D. “Biofilms are bacteria that stick together, and the formation of biofilm has been reported in diseases such as colorectal cancer,” Macia records.

‘Vital proof’ that E171 is dangerous

The differences that the observers saw titanium dioxide creating in the gut territory were linked with markers of inflammation in the colon, defining that the material was capable to prepare the gut for infection.

“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.” Says Wojciech Chrzanowski.

In the opinion of Macia, the current observation views ‘titanium dioxide connects with bacteria in the gut and damages their purpose, which can cause growth of diseases’.

When the results were seen, the authors described that E171 is not dangerous and the possible effects on health should be notices and taken action by the officials.

“We are saying that its consumption should be better regulated by food authorities,” Macia stresses.