Chewing gum decreases digestive abilities

Chewing gum decreases digestive abilities
Highlights

Chronic exposure to a common food additive found in everything from chewing gum to bread can decrease the ability of small intestine cells to absorb nutrients and act as a barrier to pathogens, warns a study.

Chronic exposure to a common food additive found in everything from chewing gum to bread can decrease the ability of small intestine cells to absorb nutrients and act as a barrier to pathogens, warns a study.

Ingestion of the compound, known as titanium dioxide, is nearly unavoidable. It can enter the digestive system through toothpastes, as titanium dioxide is used to create abrasion needed for cleaning. The oxide is also used in some chocolates to give it a smooth texture.

"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 one of the authors of the study, Gretchen Mahler, Assistant Professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

For the study, the researchers exposed a small intestinal cell culture model to the physiological equivalent of a meal's worth of titanium oxide nanoparticles. Acute exposures did not have much effect, but chronic exposure diminished the absorptive projections on the surface of intestinal cells called microvilli, showed the findings published in the journal NanoImpact. Enzyme functions were negatively affected, while inflammation signals increased, the study said.

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