gut health

Additives in Processed Foods May Alter Gut Bacteria

Study in mice suggests changes might raise risk of bowel diseases and metabolic syndrome

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A common ingredient in many processed foods might increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and metabolic syndrome, a new study in mice suggests.

Emulsifiers are used to improve food texture and to extend shelf life. In experiments with mice, researchers found that emulsifiers can alter the make-up of bacteria populations in the digestive tract. This can lead to inflammation that may contribute to the development of IBD and metabolic syndrome, the researchers said.

IBD — which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — affects millions of people and is often severe and debilitating, according to the researchers. Metabolic syndrome is a group of obesity-related conditions that can lead to diabetes, as well as heart and/or liver diseases.

But, it’s important to note that this study was conducted in mice, and research done in mice doesn’t always translate to humans. This study wasn’t designed to show whether or not emulsifiers might cause health problems in humans.

The study was published Feb. 25 in the journal Nature.

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