Serious Digestive Problems Linked to Food Additive Titanium Dioxide

Do you or someone you care about suffer from unidentified tummy troubles?  The culprit may be a food additive lurking (often unmarked) in your processed foods…

misc-stomach pain

As we have reported in numerous venues over the past several years including our book*, there is a growing body of scientific evidence linking the commonly used food additive ‘titanium dioxide’ to serious digestive issues.  Now, two more scientific studies have linked the commonly used nanoparticle food additive ‘titanium dioxide’ to digestive problems. More specifically, one of latest studies found that small intestinal cells are hindered by chronic exposure to titanium dioxide, while the other study found that food additive titanium dioxide crosses the intestinal barrier in animals and reaches other parts of the body. Immune system disorders were also found to be linked to the absorption of the nanoscale fraction of titanium dioxide particles.  The study also found that chronic oral exposure to this food additive spontaneously induced preneoplastic lesions in the colon.

Solutions:  As this food additive has grown in popularity among big food manufacturers, it now appears in a wide variety of processed foods on U.S. grocery store shelves–often unlabeled.  If you or a family member are experiencing digestive problems (or have a family history of digestive ailments) your only real solution is to avoid processed foods all together and make your own clean, additive-free meals and snacks using fresh, whole ingredients–choosing organic wherever possible. You can take a stand about wanting this chemical of concern out of the food supply by withholding your money and refusing to purchase processed foods that contain it, and you can send big food manufacturers a very clear message by voicing your concerns through their toll-free numbers or by sending a letter to their corporate headquarters or an email through their corporate websites.

Common food additive could alter digestive cell structure and function

Small intestinal cells hindered by chronic exposure to common food additive


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 common food additive found in everything from chewing gum to bread, according to research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.


Food additive ‘titanium dioxide’ can enter the digestive system through toothpastes (where titanium dioxide is used to create abrasion needed for cleaning). The oxide can also enter the digestive system through ingesting processed foods such as some chocolates where it is used to give a smooth texture; in donuts to provide color; and in skimmed milks for a brighter, more opaque appearance which makes the milk more palatable. Titanium dioxide is also in a wide variety of other processed foods including mayonnaise, salad dressings, dairy products, toaster pastries, candies, gum, and more.


The study:

titanium dioxide effect on intestines before and after shots

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).
Credit:  Dr. Gretchen Mahler

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 projections on the surface of intestinal cells called microvilli. With fewer microvilli, the intestinal barrier was weakened, 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 oxide is a common food additive and people have been eating a lot of it for a long time — don’t worry, it won’t kill you! — but we were interested in some of the subtle effects, and we think people should know about them.

There has been previous work on how titanium oxide nanoparticles affects microvilli, but we are looking at much lower concentrations. We also extended previous work to show that these nanoparticles alter intestinal function…

To avoid foods rich in titanium oxide nanoparticles you should avoid processed foods.”

-Dr. Gretchen Mahler, Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor , one of the authors of the paper

Read the full study here:

Journal reference: 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, 2017; 5: 70

DOI: 10.1016/j.impact.2017.01.002



Also see these recent research findings on the food additive titanium dioxide conducted by scientists in France:

Food additive E171: First findings of oral exposure to titanium …

Researchers from INRA and their partners1 have studied the effects of oral exposure to titanium dioxide, an additive (E171) commonly used in foodstuffs, especially confectionary. They have shown for the first time that E171 crosses the intestinal barrier in animals and reaches other parts of the body. Immune system disorders linked to the absorption of the nanoscale fraction of E171 particles were observed.

The researchers also showed that chronic oral exposure to the additive spontaneously induced preneoplastic lesions in the colon, a non-malignant stage of carcinogenesis, in 40% of exposed animals.

Moreover, E171 was found to accelerate the development of lesions previously induced for experimental purposes. While the findings show that the additive plays a role in initiating and promoting the early stages of colorectal carcinogenesis, they cannot be extrapolated to humans or more advanced stages of the disease. The findings were published in the 20 January 2017 issue of Scientific Reports.

Journal Reference: Sarah Bettini, Elisa Boutet-Robinet, Christel Cartier, Christine Coméra, Eric Gaultier, Jacques Dupuy, Nathalie Naud, Sylviane Taché, Patrick Grysan, Solenn Reguer, Nathalie Thieriet, Matthieu Réfrégiers, Dominique Thiaudière, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Marie Carrière, Jean-Nicolas Audinot, Fabrice H. Pierre, Laurence Guzylack-Piriou, Eric Houdeau. Food-grade TiO2 impairs intestinal and systemic immune homeostasis, initiates preneoplastic lesions and promotes aberrant crypt development in the rat colon. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7: 40373 DOI: 10.1038/srep40373

*Titanium Dioxide

This nanoparticle white pigment (officially classified as a food additive as opposed to a food dye) is present in processed foods common on grocery shelves, as well as in fast food and conventional restaurant foods.  Frequently unlabeled in U.S. foods (though nanoparticles are required to be labeled in EU countries) this additive is used as a white pigment food coloring for processed foods such as skim milk, white cheese, yogurt, frosting/frosted foods, icing, candies, snack foods, mayonnaise, salad dressings, powdered sugar, marshmallows, pudding, breakfast toaster pastries, and non-diary coffee creamer, among many others.  It is also commonly used in medicines and toothpaste.

Scientists are still determining the health safety and potential health hazards of nanoparticles in food.  According to the professional organization American Society of Safety Engineers (the guide has since been removed from their website) ingested nanoparticles can be absorbed through small nodules in intestinal tissue (Peyer’s Plaques) that are part of the immune defense system. If nanoparticles enter the digestive system and proceed into the bloodstream, they can potentially move throughout the body and cause damage. Additionally, the Society concludes that “Nanoparticles may also accumulate in certain organs, disrupt and impair biological, structural and metabolic processes and weaken the immune system.”  Animals studies have demonstrated that nanoparticle ingestion changes the structure of the lining of the intestinal walls. Among other potential problems, such structural changes hold the potential for over-absorption of harmful compounds.  Additionally, research has indicated there are potential adverse health effects of nanoparticles on respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and studies of manufactured nanoparticles have demonstrated toxic properties.  Among other health-related issues researchers are studying the potential link between Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles in food and an increased risk for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and colitis.  And finally, a recent study funded by the National Science Foundation and published by the American Chemical Society found that nanomaterials in food and drinks can interfere with digestive cells, changing the normal organization and decreasing the number of microvilli (finger-like projections on the cells that help us digest food). What this means essentially is that in humans, if such an effect occurs as food and drinks pass through the gastrointestinal tract, these nanomaterials could lead to poor digestion or diarrhea.

Source:  The Food Hacker’s Handbook:  A Guide to Breaking the Processed Foods and Additives Addiction