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posted by janrinok on Wednesday December 01, @10:04PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the you-are-what-you-eat dept.

Ubiquitous food additive alters human microbiota and intestinal environment:

Carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) is a synthetic member of a widely used class of food additives, termed emulsifiers, which are added to many processed foods to enhance texture and promote shelf life. CMC has not been extensively tested in humans but has been increasingly used in processed foods since the 1960s. It had long been assumed that CMC was safe to ingest because it is eliminated in the feces without being absorbed. However, increasing appreciation of the health benefits provided by bacteria that normally live in the colon, and thus would interact with non-absorbed additives, has led scientists to challenge this assumption. Experiments in mice found that CMC, and some other emulsifiers, altered gut bacteria resulting in more severe disease in a range of chronic inflammatory conditions, including colitis, metabolic syndrome and colon cancer. However, the extent to which such results are applicable to humans had not been previously investigated.

The team performed a randomized controlled-feeding study in healthy volunteers. Participants, housed at the study site, consumed an additive-free diet or an identical diet supplemented with carboxymethylcellulose (CMC). Because the diseases CMC promotes in mice take years to arise in humans, the researchers focused here on intestinal bacteria and metabolites. They found that CMC consumption changed the make-up of bacteria populating the colon, reducing select species. Furthermore, fecal samples from CMC-treated participants displayed a stark depletion of beneficial metabolites that are thought to normally maintain a healthy colon.

Lastly, the researchers performed colonoscopies on subjects at the beginning and end of the study and noticed that a subset of subjects consuming CMC displayed gut bacteria encroaching into the mucus, which has previously been observed to be a feature of inflammatory bowel diseases and type 2 diabetes. Thus, while CMC consumption did not result in any disease per se in this two week study, collectively the results support the conclusions of animal studies that long-term consumption of this additive might promote chronic inflammatory diseases. Therefore, further studies of this additive are warranted.

Journal Reference:
Benoit Chassaing, et. al. Randomized controlled-feeding study of dietary emulsifier carboxymethylcellulose reveals detrimental impacts on the gut microbiota and metabolome. Gastroenterology, 2021; (DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2021.11.006)


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  • (Score: 3, Offtopic) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday December 01, @10:14PM (2 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 01, @10:14PM (#1201285) Homepage Journal

    I check the ingredients in my food. I don't buy anything with ubiquitous in it!

    --
    Taking bets: When does Biden's approval rating reach 15%?
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, @10:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, @10:22PM (#1201289)

      Good for you! Now go grab yourself a cookie.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @02:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @02:47AM (#1201345)

      You are missing out, Big Time.

      I pity you, like them ignint semitic tribes missing out on the culinary glory that is pork.

      Fool.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, @10:46PM (13 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, @10:46PM (#1201296)

    I'm quite certain that those of us who say things like "avoid processed food" would generally get a lot of push-back from certain quarters here. We may not have had a study like this; but just a simple observation that our neighbors who get stuff that comes in aluminum and plastic, stuff that's microwaved and "ready to eat", tend to be less healthy. If it wasn't recognized as food 200 years ago, it's suspect. No, that's not "science" but it makes sense because the other things are part of a long-term experiment that isn't complete yet. Sometimes (but not always) science needs to catch up with us luddites.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, @11:44PM (10 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, @11:44PM (#1201307)

      Just to nitpick a little bit, it's not the part about coming in a bag or a can that makes these foods unhealthy. Neither is the part about being microwavable/ready-to-eat. The crucial element is the amount of processing that goes into the food that ends up on your dinner table. For example, apples, oranges, and grapes often come in a bag at the store I shop at for my food. That doesn't make these items unhealthy, merely packaged for easy carrying while transporting from store to my kitchen. Good rule of thumb: if you can't tell where that food originally came from, then you should think twice about putting it into your mouth.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @12:27AM (7 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @12:27AM (#1201320)

        Hmm, that reminds me that I have no idea what a pineapple plant looks like (besides the pineapple part.) I doubt it's half way between a pine tree and an apple tree ...

        • (Score: 5, Informative) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday December 02, @01:01AM (6 children)

          by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Thursday December 02, @01:01AM (#1201326)

          I have no idea what a pineapple plant looks like

          Look at the leaves at the top of the pineapple. Pinapples are a bromeliad with leaves in a bush that looks like that. When it's time to fruit it throws up a thick stem and a pineapple grows on top.

          You can grow one from the leaves on top of a pineapple. Cut the fruit off leaving a good clump of base on the leaves. Pull off all but three or four leaves and put it in water. Change the water once a week or two until you have roots. At that point you can transplant it to dirt or a [hydro|aqua]ponics system. They are not cold tolerant and want a lot of light.

          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by istartedi on Thursday December 02, @01:29AM (5 children)

            by istartedi (123) on Thursday December 02, @01:29AM (#1201333) Journal

            On some forums, this inevitably leads people to wonder where new pineapples come from if you have to cut the top off one to grow the plant. The answer that should be obvious (but isn't to some people) is that the hard little black things in the fruit are seeds. You can make many new pineapple plants from one pineapple by using those seeds. They are indeed not very tolerant of cold. The British came up with an interesting way to solve this problem back when ships were too slow to get them fresh pineapple.

            They grew them on top of a pile of composting horse manure. As the manure broke down, it not only fertilized but heated the pineapple plants, allowing them to grow a tropical fruit in a temperate climate.

            • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday December 02, @03:08PM (2 children)

              by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Thursday December 02, @03:08PM (#1201513)

              The manure compost heating is interesting. I read of something similar in a very old book on managing a Victorian estate farm but could never picture it. Very clever.

              On the topic, is there a way to neutralize whatever component of pineapple juice that causes mouth sores? I enjoy the flavor but eating it hurts more than Captain Crunch.

              • (Score: 3, Interesting) by istartedi on Thursday December 02, @11:31PM (1 child)

                by istartedi (123) on Thursday December 02, @11:31PM (#1201680) Journal

                Most likely that's due to bromelain! I guess some people are more sensitive than others. Of course this leads to the question of whether or not it would still taste the same in other ways, but this site [sciencemeetsfood.org] has some suggestions. If you're willing to eat them as something other than raw fruit, it seems like you might find something you like that doesn't sting.

                • (Score: 3, Informative) by hendrikboom on Thursday December 02, @11:41PM

                  by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 02, @11:41PM (#1201683) Homepage Journal

                  Pineapples also contain a chemical that interacts with the drug atorvastatin resulting in a loss of muscle mass.

            • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday December 02, @11:31PM (1 child)

              by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 02, @11:31PM (#1201681) Homepage Journal

              don't they also grow mushrooms in manure? I wonder if the heating is relevant.

              • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Friday December 03, @04:57AM

                by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Friday December 03, @04:57AM (#1201740)

                Yes, the White button mushrooms that are ubiquitous here in the US, have traditionally been grown on composted horse manure. In modern times it is sometimes still used, but you're more likely to find poultry manure instead. It's hot composted before the mycelium colonizes it so the risk of cross contamination is low.

                If that bothers you then consider oyster or Shitake mushrooms instead. They grow on wood (both) or grain (oyster).

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @02:22AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @02:22AM (#1201339)

        it's not the part about coming in a bag or a can that makes these foods unhealthy. Neither is the part about being microwavable/ready-to-eat. The crucial element is the amount of processing that goes into the food

        Uhhhh actually... milk has to be handled every day, mozzarella cheese is turned and turned and turned, kefir needs to ferment, ...

        It really is the preservatives and the "new" chemically-modified crap to make things even "ready-to-eat" or microwavable that is the problem. Not the amount of processing (you can eat a sandwich, with bread even!), but the chemical additives that make it "ready" to eat. Process that rice all day long, I don't care, it's still rice. Mash those potatoes to your heart's content.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @04:28AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @04:28AM (#1201369)

          While we're being super autistic, it's indeed the newfangled industrial chemicals that do it, but they don't make food ready to eat. I normally make food ready to eat by a process of organic chemistry sometimes called "cooking." You can then freeze this ready to eat food for weeks, especially in containers that prevent crystal dihydrogen monoxide from sublimating and escaping. Then you can microwave it, and it's still healthy.

          What the newfangled industrial chemicals accomplish is lowering the cost of industrially prepared food at several stages from factory to warehouse to store to plate........ especially for "foods" that aren't frozen or refrigerated.

          My take-away is that if it can't grow mold, it might not be good for your gut.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @02:13PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @02:13PM (#1201488)

      This is, intentionally or not, a class problem. Boxed macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, and similar products have long shelf life, are incredibly cheap per volume or per calorie, require few dishes and little space to repair, and don't need to be refrigerated before you make them.

      My diet is much healthier now than it was three years ago - because my youngest kid is now a teenager, and my oldest kid can drive. I'm not paying for daycare, I'm not changing diapers, I can afford more expensive foods, I can get to the store more often, I have more time to cook, I have more time to wash dishes and other people in the house are old enough to wash dishes.

      So I grant your premise. But when you see someone else eating processed food, it could be, "I can't afford to buy unprocessed stuff" or "I am struggling to keep up with the dishes, and a microwaved meal makes that easier" or "I don't have the energy to cook anything elaborate because if I hear the Peppa Pig theme song one more time I'm going to hang myself" or "I can only get to the grocery store twice a month and anything that's not boxed or canned spoils after a week".

      In other words, please recommend unprocessed foods and public policy that promotes unprocessed foods without turning this into a moral crusade against people who eat processed foods.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, @07:56PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, @07:56PM (#1201928)
        FWIW olive oil is processed food. Lots of people consume it regularly with no problems.

        The good stuff (not the faked Chinese poison) isn't that cheap though... ;)
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by TrentDavey on Thursday December 02, @12:01AM (1 child)

    by TrentDavey (1526) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 02, @12:01AM (#1201313)

    Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome, Published: 25 February 2015
    https://www.nature.com/articles/nature14232 [nature.com]

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Thursday December 02, @03:14AM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday December 02, @03:14AM (#1201347)

      Old news, and still somehow incomprehensible to surgeons who "treat" colitis by removal of intestinal segments.

      I forget the author, but round-about 20 years ago I read a science fiction novel in which two clandestine agencies were "playing chess with oven mitts" by manipulating unwitting agents in the field by things like manipulating their gut biome, making them more or less irritable and/or prone to violence when needed. This book was the first place I read about the cordyceps fungus and how it caused ants to suicide by feeding themselves to birds so the fungus could continue its lifecycle in the bird guts. I believe it was also the book that had a company "mining" the deep ocean for organic compounds of various fantastical abilities. It's one of the few fictional novels I have felt compelled to read twice within a year.

      --
      "You're all f-cking peasants as far as I can see."
      John Lennon (also sung by David Bowie) Working Class Hero
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