Marshmallows, gingerbread men, doughnuts and frosted cupcakes all tied up in strings – these may be some of your favorite things, but white coloring pigments in foods often contain titanium dioxide – a metal previously considered harmless to ingest.
More and more, reports are surfacing that these tiny metal particles actually cause intestinal stress. And just because the health food stores contain titanium dioxide in their aspartame-free gum – doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
No matter how many times science-frontrunners claim the safety of titanium dioxide, it doesn’t change the fact that nanoparticles – used in food, personal care, makeup and medicine – are the new kids on the scene and a few declarations of safety are not enough. Remember when scientists were silent about BPA for the last three decades?
New research is cautioning – yet again – that titanium dioxide nanoparticles might increase inflammation in the intestinal tract. The potential negative effects are of particular concern to those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, afflicting at least 1.3 million people in the U.S.
Medical News Today reports:
Recently, researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland have looked at what happens when the digestive system absorbs nanoparticles of titanium dioxide. Their findings suggest that foods containing titanium dioxide could be particularly harmful for patients with IBD.
This new study, which was led by Dr. Gerhard Rogler, is published in the journal Gut.
Immune system flags up titanium dioxide
The scientists focused their efforts on the NLRP3 inflammasome, which is a protein complex released by the non-specific immune system to flag up potential threats. When activated, the NLRP3 inflammasome triggers inflammation as a way of counteracting the perceived hazard.
“This shows that [titanium dioxide] particles can be absorbed from food under certain disease conditions,” says Dr. Rogler.
First they tested nanoparticles in a Petri dish, then on mice. In both cases, the NLRP3 complex was activated causing “severe inflammation of the intestines and damage to the intestinal barrier.” The nanoparticles bypassed two of the body’s defense mechanisms known as epithelial cells and macrophages (the white blood cells that eat up dead or foreign matter). As nanoparticles bypass these natural systems, they accumulate and get tagged as a threat by NLRP3 inflammasomes.
Dr. Rogler and his colleagues caution that titanium dioxide nanoparticles could be particularly harmful to those diagnosed with any form of irritable bowel and that consumption of titanium dioxide should be avoided.
Dr. Rogler emphasizes that, “patients with an intestinal barrier dysfunction as found in colitis should abstain from foods containing titanium dioxide.”
Check food and lipstick labels to avoid this ingredient. Pay careful attention to mints, gum, candies, frosted treats, health food store creamers, any non-dairy creamers, sunscreens and more. It also appears in shampoo a lot more now.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.