How common food additives could affect your gut health

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What’s in Your Food?

When you munch on a candy bar or dig into a bowl of ice cream, you’re probably not thinking about the microscopic particles that could be in there.

But some of these teeny-tiny particles are added to food for different reasons, like making it look better or last longer.

A recent study shows that these microscopic additives could be affecting the health of our stomach and intestines. So, let’s dig into this a bit more and find out what this all means for us.

The Study: Chickens as Test Subjects

Scientists from Binghamton University and Cornell University decided to use chickens to understand how these particles affect our gut.

Why chickens? It turns out that their stomachs are a lot like ours, especially when it comes to the types of tiny creatures (bacteria) that live in there.

Researchers picked five kinds of these small particles to test. They put these particles into chicken eggs and then watched what happened after the chicks hatched.

They looked at how well the chicks’ stomachs were working, what kinds of bacteria were living in there, and how the inner lining of their small intestine looked.

What They Found: Some Good, Some Not So Good

The results were a mixed bag. On one hand, some of these particles seemed to actually help the chicks. For instance, a particle called zinc oxide seemed to make their intestines healthier.

On the other hand, some particles seemed to do more harm than good. For example, particles called silicone dioxide and titanium dioxide didn’t play well with the chicks’ stomachs.

They made it harder for the chicks to absorb important minerals from food and messed up the balance of bacteria living in their stomachs.

A Little Background on the Particles

Now, you might be wondering what these particles are used for in the first place. Here’s a quick rundown:

Titanium dioxide is often used to make food look brighter or whiter. You might find it in items like white frosting on cakes.

Silicon dioxide helps to stop food from sticking together, especially powders like coffee creamer.

Iron oxide keeps red meats looking red, instead of turning an unappetizing brown.

Zinc oxide can work as a preservative, killing off bad bacteria in foods.

All these particles are approved for use in foods, but we’re still learning about the long-term effects of eating them. This study is a starting point, and more research is needed.

Should We Stop Eating These Foods?

The short answer is no, we shouldn’t stop eating foods that have these particles right away. However, it’s good to be aware of what’s in our food, especially if you have stomach issues or other health concerns.

The scientists who did the study say that more research is needed to know for sure what these particles do to our bodies in the long run.

Also, each person is different. What affects one person’s stomach might not affect another’s. But if you’re worried, you can always read food labels more carefully or choose foods that don’t use these kinds of additives.

So next time you’re about to take a bite out of something, maybe take a moment to think about what’s in it.

Understanding what we’re eating can help us make smarter food choices in the future. And as science learns more about these tiny particles, we’ll get a clearer picture of how they impact our health.

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