A new study has found that the common food and hygiene product additive, titanium dioxide, can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight pathogens.
Titanium dioxide is relatively common in the standard American diet, as it is included as an additive in most of what we consider to be “junk” foods. It is also present in things like chewing gum and bread, meaning many Americans face chronic exposure to the the chemical.
Researchers at the Binghamton University, State University of New York, found that chronic exposure to the additive can have severe negative consequences on the body. Intestinal cells are lined with microvilli, which help the body absorb vitamins and minerals. Long term exposure to titanium dioxide resulted in a decreased number of microvilli within intestinal cells. As a result, the body’s inflammation signals are boosted, metabolism slows and the body has more trouble absorbing vitamins and minerals, particularly zinc and fatty acids.
It was found that acute or one time exposure to the additive has little effect on the body. However, scientists found that eating it as little as five days in a row can have negative health consequences.
Although the United States Food and Drug Administration (USDA) states that the additive is safe, researchers on the study beg to differ. Those involved in the study do concede that it cannot cause fatal consequences, but are sure that it can lead to negative health consequences and poorer quality of life over time.
At this point in time, digesting titanium dioxide is almost totally unavoidable. Not only is it in most candies, breads and gums, but it can also be found in baked goods, sunscreen, skim milk and even toothpaste. Some companies, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, have yielded to public pressure to remove the additive from their food.