Home LATEST NEWS A commonly used food additive would alter the microbiota

A commonly used food additive would alter the microbiota


CMC is a synthetic emulsifier added since the 1960s to many processed foods to improve their texture and extend their shelf life.

Visualization of the human intestinal microbiota.

Visualization of the human gut microbiota (red) within the mucus layer (green) located on the surface of the intestine.

Photo: Institut Cochin / Benoit Chassaing

In previous work, researcher Benoît Chassaing and his colleagues had shown in mice that the presence of food emulsifiers in many processed dishes alters the composition of the intestinal microbiota and thus leads to the aggravation of many chronic inflammatory pathologies, such as colitis, metabolic syndrome and colon cancer.

In the present work, the French team confirms in humans that CMC alters the composition of the microbiota.

Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and ulcerative colitis are the three most common inflammatory bowel diseases. They affect nearly 20 million people worldwide, and nearly 260,000 Canadians suffer from them.

Genetic factors have been associated with these pathologies in recent years. However, these predispositions are not sufficient to explain on their own the occurrence of these diseases., consider the authors of this work published in the journal Gastroenterology (New window) (in English).

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The study

Healthy volunteers were separated into two groups, one consuming a strictly controlled diet without any additives, and the other an identical diet, but fortified with CMC.

This is a feature seen in inflammatory bowel disease and type 2 diabetes., note the researchers.

This study did not show that ingestion of CMC leads to inflammatory disease, but it does confirm data from animal studies and suggests that long-term consumption of this additive could negatively impact the intestinal microbiota and therefore promote chronic inflammatory diseases as well as metabolic deregulations in humans.

More research needed

The French team stresses the need for further work to characterize the long-term impact of this food additive, particularly in people who suffer from chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

She also wants to carry out work that will identify molecular markers of sensitivity to CMC.

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