Processed foods have become a quick and convenient option in our modern, busy lives. Processed foods are not just limited to junk food items, we can categorise anything that comes out of a packet as processed. While there are many packaged food items that are marketed as 'healthy' they may be full of artificial additives. Whilst not all food additives are harmful, there are some that may upset our natural gut bacteria which can lead to increased gut permeability and inflammatory gut issues.
It is important to note that the frequency and amount of additives consumed will have the biggest impact on our long term health and gut bacteria. Consuming small amount of additives on an infrequent basis is unlikely to lead to long term gut imbalance, unless allergies are present.
Food additives that may upset the gut:
Maltodextrin isa type of carbohydrate, known as a polysaccharide. Maltodextrin is a common additive used as a filler and thickener to ultimately increase the volume of processed food. We see Maltodextrin in a plethora of commercially prepared foods including packet mixes and powders, health supplements, beauty powders, breakfast cereals, yoghurts, powdered sugar free sweeteners and museli bars.
Maltodextrin has been shown to to potentially upset out gut microbiome as it suppresses the growth of beneficial bacteria within out gut.Research conducted at Lerner Research Institute in Ohio suggests that polysaccharides such as maltodextrin have been linked to bacteria-associated intestinal disorders.
Another study conducted at the Boston Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center reported that maltodextrin impairs cellular antibacterial responses and also suppresses intestinal antimicrobial defence mechanisms. These effects may be contributing factors in inflammatory bowel disease and gut disorders. Maltodextrin markedly enhanced LF82 specific biofilm formation and the formation of multiple other E. coli strains.
In conclusion Maltodextrin may lead to dysbiosis of gut microbes and contribute to gut related diseases.
Titanium Dioxide E171
Titanium dioxide is used as a food whitener in common processed foods and has been show to negatively interact with bacteria in the gut as it impairs the function of beneficial gut bacteria. Health researchers claim that exposure to these types of nanoparticles has been linked to the development of diseases such as dementia, auto-immune disease, autism, cancer metastasis, eczema and asthma.
One study found that titanium dioxide did not change the composition of gut microbiota, but instead altered bacteria activity and promoted growth in a form of an undesired biofilm. Biofilms are bacteria that stick together and have been reported in diseases such as colon and rectal cancer.
Thickeners and Emulsifiers
Carboxymethylcellulose E466 is commonly referred to as cellulose gum and is used as an emulsifier and thickening agent found in both foods and drinks such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, dressings, gelatinous foods and sauces.
Carboxymethylcellulose is thought to cause an immediate inflammatory gut response by influencing the gene expression of gut bacteria. The altered gene expression caused by Carboxymethylcellusose leads to the over production of flagellin, a protein that when increased can cause inflammation in the gut.
Polysorbate 80 emulsifies or stabilises food substances that would normally separate to give a creamy consistency. It is used in foods such as coconut milk, salad dressing, creams and sauces.
In a 2017 study, Polysorbate 80 was found to decrease beneficial bacteria in the gut. This is thought to be due to pathogenic gut bacteria feeding on polysorbate 80, increasing inflammation posing a risk of weight gain in both humansand rodents.
As well as being commonly found in foods Polysorbate80 is also found in many skincare products. While the effect on the skin microbiota is unknown, it is hypothosised that it could feed pathogenic bacteria on the skin as it does in our gut, which could lead to a myriad of skin conditions.
Artificial sweeteners may decrease beneficial gut bacteria, which can cause a rise and imbalance of pathogenic bacteria which may lead to inflammation associated diseases and autoimmune conditions. According to scientists from universities in Israel and Singapore, there are six artificial sweeteners commonly used in processed foods which have been found to be toxic to our beneficial gut bacteria:
Acesulfame potassium-k E950
Selecting minimally processed foods and avoiding harmful additiveswhere possible may be beneficial for those susceptible to inflammatory gut related disorders, inflammatory skin conditions and autoimmune disorders.
Vita-sol has been formulated without the use of any artificial additives, fillers, sweeteners or colours to ensure a clean and nutrient dense inner beauty wholefood powder that supports both your gut and your skin.