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The word candy has always been a dirty one. We've known since childhood that candy is terrible for our health, yet the sweet deliciousness of our favorite candies—thin mints, jelly beans, licorice twists, Sour Patch Kids, and all the rest—makes them impossible to resist. Guilt often isn't enough to stop us from picking up a pack of candy in the grocery store or supermarket and enjoying just a little treat.

 

 

Well, if the knowledge that candy is filled with fattening calories and sugar that will rot your teeth and dampen your immune system isn't enough to stop you from eating it, here's something that might: candy can prevent your intestines from absorbing nutrients and fighting off disease.

 

A team of researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York found that intestinal cell cultures exposed to titanium oxide (a food additive found in chewing gum and candy) had a harder time absorbing nutrients. The absorptive projections on the intestinal cells decreased, leading to a decrease of microvilli.

 

Microvilli are responsible for taking nutrients from the food into your body, but they're also part of the intestinal barrier responsible for keeping out pathogens. More pathogens were able to pass through the intestinal barrier, meaning a higher risk of disease. Of course, this was on top of the fact that the decrease in microvilli caused by titanium oxide slowed the metabolism and made it harder for the intestines to absorb fatty acids, iron, and zinc. Inflammation signals in the body increased thanks to the titanium oxide, and enzyme functions decreased. 

 

This study makes one thing abundantly clear: titanium oxide is very dangerous for your intestinal health, immune function, and digestive processes. But the researchers found that acute (short-term) exposure to the chemical had little effect, but chronic (three meals' worth over the course of five days) exposure led to the health problems mentioned above. It's the daily/regular ingestion of chewing gum and candy that can be the real source of your woes.

 

The FDA has classified titanium dioxide as safe for human consumption, which is why it is an additive found in so many different food products: donuts, candies, chocolate, skimmed milk, chewing gum, Twinkies, mayonnaise, and the list goes one. The good news is that all of these food products are ones you should be trying to avoid. If you follow a clean eating, whole foods diet, you should have no trouble avoiding the titanium dioxide that messes with your intestines and internal functions.

 

Reference:

1. Zhongyuan Guo, Nicole J. Martucci, Fabiola Moreno-Olivas, Elad Tako, Gretchen J. Mahler, "Titanium dioxide nanoparticle ingestion alters nutrient absorption in an in vitro model of the small intestine," NanoImpact, doi: 10.1016/j.impact.2017.01.002, published online 18 January 2017.

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