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Breakthrough study: Common colouring, titanium dioxide, aggravates bowel disease

Thursday July 27, 2017
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Caption: Jenny Hall, BSc, Technical Advisor, at Viridian Nutrition, comments on the latest titanium dioxide research.


Top gut-health professor recommends patients abstain from one of the most commonly-consumed nanoparticles. 

Titanium dioxide is one of the most-produced nanoparticles worldwide and being used increasingly in everyday foods and products as a colouring. The compound (E171, as found on food labels) is a common ingredient in coffee whitener, icing, chewing gum, biscuits and ice lollies. It is also used in paint, and added to medicinal tablets and capsules to give them a uniform bright whiteness.

Exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and its impact to the human body has been the subject of a long-running debate.

A new study at the University of Zurich has recommended that people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other bowel disorders should avoid food that may contain the compound.

The research of Gerhard Rogler, professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at the university shows that these nanoparticles may intensify the inflammatory reaction in the bodies of patients with inflammatory intestinal diseases. 


The causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) remains only partially understood; however, it is now accepted that both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are due to the interplay of genetic and environmental factors that trigger an inappropriate immune response. The incidence of IBD is increasing in many Western societies, supporting an important role of environmental factors during IBD development. Among those environmental triggers are increased hygiene and a ‘Western diet’, which includes consumption of nanoparticles. 


Professor Rogler said: “These particles can be absorbed from food under certain disease conditions.” 

"Based on our results," Rogler concludes, "patients with an intestinal barrier dysfunction as found in colitis should abstain from foods containing titanium dioxide."

Viridian Nutrition, the British ethical vitamin company, said this research confirms its position of having no binders, fillers or excipients and only 100% active ingredients in its supplements.


Founder of Viridian Nutrition, Cheryl Thallon, said: “Would you add magnesium dioxide, stearic acid, shellac, talc or colourings such as titanium dioxide to your meal, in the way you might sprinkle salt or pepper? Neither would we. By making our capsules, liquids and powders as pure and simple as possible, avoiding all the nasties, we have shown that it is possible to make a range of nutritional supplements acceptable for the majority of people.”


This latest research gives new hope to the concerns over use of titanium dioxide as a food additive, thus far, there have been no restrictions on its use in the food industry.


To read the full study visit:


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