Aug 16 2015

Gut problems from some common food additives

Published by at 12:15 pm under probiotic supplements

A common food additive could be wreaking havoc on your gut.
The increased use of emulsifiers in our food supply parallels the increase in some chronic inflammatory bowel diseases.1*

In the past several years, there has been a serious increase in metabolic syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases that affect digestion, according to Georgia State University professor of biology and lead study author, Andrew Gewirtz. 1*

A new study in the journal Nature, suggests that emulsifiers might be a contributing factor ‘…to the rising incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease by interfering with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract…” 1,2*

‘…Metabolic syndrome includes obesity, increased risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes…”1 Though these conditions are often thought to have a genetic link, the dramatic increase “…cannot be attributed solely to genetics,…”according to Gewirtz. “…Human genetics haven’t changed in recent decades…” His theory: “…All these conditions are associated with changes in gut bacteria…”1 *

Gewirtz and his colleagues focused their study on environmental factors that might be responsible, including, “modern additions to the food supply…”

So what are emulsifiers exactly? Approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “…These ingredients such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other “gums,” all of which keep ingredients—often oils and fats—from separating. They are also used to improve the texture and shelf-life of many foods found on supermarket shelves, from ice cream and baked goods, to salad dressings, veggie burgers, non-dairy milks, and hamburger patties…”1 Emulsifiers can even be found in what we might consider “healthy” foods. They help to reduce trans fats and gluten in some foods and can be found in foods labeled “organic” and non-GMO.1 *

This new study involved feeding emulsifiers to mice through water and food. “…The experiment used polysorbate 80 (common in ice cream) and carboxymethylcellulose, and found that it altered microbiota in a way that caused chronic inflammation…”1 The mice were fed emulsifiers at levels below what would be considered normal consumption, and then also at levels that equaled the diet of someone who ate a lot of processed foods, which is a good deal of our country, especially children.1*

“…Mice with abnormal immune systems fed emulsifiers developed chronic colitis. Those with normal immune systems developed mild intestinal inflammation and a metabolic disorder that caused them to eat more, and become obese, hyperglycemic, and insulin resistant…” 1 *

“…Gewirtz explains that the emulsifiers appear to disturb both the bacteria normally present in the gut and the gut’s protective mucus layer. Something in the chemistry of the emulsifiers seems to change the microbiota and how these bacteria interact with the intestine itself. The combination, Gewirtz says, sets the stage for inflammation…”1

Of course, these additives are not the sole source for our countries obesity rates, nor the sole cause for inflammatory bowel disease. “But emulsifiers may be a factor contributing to excess eating…” He also concluded that the increase in these very common additives “roughly parallels the increase in these chronic diseases…” 1

To better health,






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