Features  |  Health  

Chewing gum, bread leaves body more vulnerable to infections, researchers find

By Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor   |   22 February 2017   |   2:54 am

Scientists claim that chewing gum and bread could be bad for your health, a new study reveals. Long-term exposure to a popular food additive leaves the body more prone to infections.

The research suggests that Titanium dioxide, found in a variety of foods as E171, damages cell structures inside the intestines; and not only does this allow for more harmful bacteria to enter the digestive system, but it prevents some nutrients from being absorbed.

Researchers exposed a small intestinal cell model to the equivalent of a meal’s worth of titanium oxide nanoparticles over four hours.

They also tested the same model with three meal’s worth over five days – deemed chronic exposure.

But only those who had been repeatedly given the additive had any negative effects, according to the study by Binghamton University.

Chronic exposure was found to have an effect on the ability of intestinal cells called microvilli – designed to help absorb nutrients.

This was found to weaken their intestines, and made zinc, iron and fatty acids more difficult to absorb.

The study published in the journal NanoImpact discovered the ability to break food down was also negatively affected.

Meanwhile, a study has revealed that adding vitamin B3 to water may protect you against glaucoma.

In a study on mice, scientists found it helped to keep their eyes healthier for longer – reducing their risk of developing the condition.

Experts say the findings could point to a cheap and safe treatment option for older people, instead of relying on eye drops.

Researchers at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine added the vitamin to the water of mice who were genetically predisposed to glaucoma.

Results revealed it kept their eyes healthier for longer and provided remarkable protection against glaucoma compared to those given plain water.

Study author Dr. Pete Williams said: “Because these (eye) cells are still healthy, and still metabolically robust, even when high pressure turns on, they better resist the damaging processes.”

The researchers also found that a single gene therapy application of the enzyme responsible for giving brain cells energy prevented glaucoma in the mice.

Williams added: “It can be a problem for patients, especially the elderly, to take their drugs every day and in the correct dose. So gene therapy could be a one-shot, protective treatment.”

Across the world, glaucoma affects around 80 million people, with many currently relying on eye drops. It usually occurs due to a build-up of pressure in the eye, which damages the optic nerve.

Those with a family history of the condition and people with other medical conditions such as diabetes, are at an increased risk.

Treatment includes eye drops, which can cause irritation and aren’t suitable for all patients.

In more severe cases, patients may undergo laser therapy, which can be painful, or surgery, which requires an anaesthetic.


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Chewing gumPete Williams


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