Dr Dingle's Blog / IBD

Food additive E171 (titanium dioxide) increases gut problems and cancer risk

Food additive E171 (titanium dioxide) increases gut problems and cancer risk

Diet has a profound impact on gut microbiota composition and function including the role of food additives.

Food additives are used to improve the texture, preservation and aesthetics of food. Food grade titanium dioxide (TiO2) or E171, is a whitening agent present in over 900 commonly consumed food products. The average adult consumes between 0.7 and 5.9 mg of TiO2 per kg of body weight (BW) per day throughout their life and children are the most exposed, consuming up to 32.4 mg TiO2/kg BW/day in maximally exposed individuals. This is of concern.
The effect of TiO2 on gut is poorly understood yet evidence suggests that TiO2 interacts with gut cells. Studies have demonstrated the accumulation of TiO2 in the mucus layer (which protects the gut cells) in the gut and its uptake by gut cells. A study in rats has shown that TiO2 affects immune cells.
While concern has been raised over the use of titanium dioxide in foods this study investigated the impact of food grade TiO2 on gut microbiota of mice when orally administered via drinking water.

The study found that TiO2 could alter the release of bacterial metabolites in the gut and affect the distribution of the commensal bacteria. They also found reduced expression of the colonic mucin 2 gene, a key component of the intestinal mucus layer, and increased expression of the beta defensin gene, indicating that TiO2 significantly impacts gut homeostasis. These changes were associated with gut inflammation and an increase in the rick of colon cancer.

These findings collectively show that TiO2 is not inert, but rather impairs gut homeostasis which may in turn prime the host for disease development.

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Gut Health Gut Healing an Modern Perspective

Gut Health Gut Healing an Modern Perspective

Arguable the biggest health problem facing us today is gut health rivaling the current obesity crisis and tobacco smoking in its impact on our health. Every health condition is linked to gut health and gut healing either directly or indirectly through inflammation and oxidation. Historically every culture understood this and were involved in extensive practices of gut healing and even our own up until 60 or so years ago. The first thing health practitioners throughout history would do is to start to fix the gut.

Until recently the positive effects of the gut microbiome on our digestive system and health has been severely under rated. Wisdom of Chinese doctors from centuries ago, who somehow knew that the intestines were not merely a digestive organ, but the centre of health and wellbeing. Hippocrates was recorded as saying that all illness begins in the gut. Throughout history from the Egyptians till around 80 years ago medicine and the bowels were frequently mentioned in the same sentence and good health revolved around gut health.

Even today the nomadic Maasai tribes in Africa attribute most illnesses to the effect of “pollutants” that block or inhibit digestion. In these communities the plants are used to cure diseases served mainly as strong purgatives and emetics; they "cleanse" the body and digestive system from polluting substances.

With thousands of studies released each year the gut is known to play a major role in many health conditions including mental health issues, cardiovascular disease, allergies and asthma, autoimmune diseases, some cancers and even diabetes and weight gain. Many of these conditions which are now reaching epidemic proportions have been linked to a dysfunctional gut. Studies have shown a strong link between mental health issues including depression and what is called the gut brain axis. We also know the gut is the centre of our immune system and is strongly influenced by the gut microbiome. As a result the gut has a strong link with allergies and asthma. Peanut allergies for example are not caused by peanuts they are brought about by a dysfunctional gut microbiome.

Antibiotics and many gut medications used for controlling acid reflux have been shown to be devastating to gut health a healthy gut microbiome, as well as many of the chemicals we use around the homes and even the personal care products we apply to our skin. Even our activities either promote gut health and gut healing or harm it. Stress sends messages to the opportunistic (bad) microorganisms in the gut to tell them to start to take over from the good ones. Exercise promotes gut health and healing while no exercise or too much exercise does the exact opposite.

Fortunately, in animal studies we know that many of these conditions can be improved and even reversed if the gut microbiome is repaired. 50% of Parkinson’s Disease has been directly linked with poor gut health while improving the gut microbiome has been shown to dramatically improve symptoms.

The research also shows that while probiotics can be useful in gut healing, repairing the gut microbiome requires an understanding of what encourages a healthy gut microbiome in our diet and lifestyle as well as what causes a dysfunctional microbiome. We now know that all the healthy foods we eat, the vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and fruit all feed the gut microbiome which then feeds us and looks after our health. All the studies on healthy diets from the Mediterranean to the original Japanese or the low inflammatory diet (DII) benefit us because they work through the gut to promote gut health and subsequently our health.

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