Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 21st 2017 Contents A24 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Food additive that alters
digestive cell function
The ability of small intestine cells to absorb
nutrients and act as a barrier to pathogens is
"significantly decreased" after chronic exposure
to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide---a com-
mon food additive found in everything from
chewing gum to bread, according to research
from Binghamton University, State University
of New York.
Researchers exposed a small intestinal cell culture
model to the physiological equivalent of a meal's worth
of titanium oxide nanoparticles---30 nanometers
across---over four hours (acute exposure), or three
meal's worth over five days (chronic exposure).
Acute exposures did not have much effect, but
chronic exposure diminished the absorptive projec-
tions on the surface of intestinal cells called microvilli.
With fewer microvilli, the intestinal barrier was weak-
ened, metabolism slowed and some nutrients---iron,
zinc, and fatty acids, specifically---were more difficult
to absorb. Enzyme functions were negatively affected,
while inflammation signals increased.
Titanium dioxide is generally recognised as safe by
the US Food and Drug Administration and ingestion
is nearly unavoidable. The compound is an inert and
insoluble material that is commonly used for white
pigmentation in paints, paper and plastics. It is also
an active ingredient in mineral-based sunscreens for
pigmentation to block ultraviolet light.
However, it can enter the digestive system through
toothpastes, as titanium dioxide is used to create
abrasion needed for cleaning. The oxide is also used
in some chocolate to give it a smooth texture, in do-
nuts to provide colour and in skimmed milks for a
brighter, more opaque appearance which makes the
milk more palatable.
A 2012 Arizona State University study tested 89
common food products including gum, Twinkies, and
mayonnaise and found that they all contained tita-
nium dioxide. About five per cent of products in that
Try drugs last
Patients with lower back pain should try heat
wraps and exercise first and prescription drugs
should be used only as a last resort, a leading
doctors' group said recently. New guidelines
from the American College of Physicians de-
tail just what works and what doesn't for lower
"Given that most patients with acute or subacute
low back pain improve over time regardless of treat-
ment, clinicians and patients should select nonphar-
macologic treatment with superficial heat massage,
acupuncture, or spinal manipulation," the American
College of Physicians says in its new guidance.
It may be a big change for many doctors, who often
turn to pills first for patients who are in pain.
"For patients with chronic low back pain, [the]
American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends
non-drug therapy first," the organisation says in the
new guidelines, published in the Annals of Internal
"Exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acu-
puncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi,
yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation,
electromyography biofeedback, low level laser thera-
py, operant therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and
spinal manipulation are shown to improve symptoms
with little risk of harm," it adds.
If none of those helps, then over-the-counter drugs
such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be tried, the group
says. Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol,
has been shown in several studies to do little to help
back pain, it added.
Only if nothing else works and the patient is still
in debilitating pain should a doctor try prescription
drugs, the ACP says. (NBC)
Titanium dioxide is commonly used for white pigmentation in paints, paper and
plastics---as well as in foods like donuts, gums, mayonnaise and candies to
provide colour. Too much titanium dioxide badly affects how your intestine
absorbs some nutrients.
study contained titanium dioxide as nanoparticles.
Dunkin Donuts stopped using powdered sugar with
titanium dioxide nanoparticles in 2015 in response
to pressure from the advocacy group As You Sow.
"To avoid foods rich in titanium oxide nanoparti-
cles you should avoid processed foods, and especially
candy. That is where you see a lot of nanoparticles,"
Mahler said. (Binghamton University)
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