Food packaging is not only an environmental pollutant, but it could also affect the absorption of nutrients in your body. This is reported in a study published in February 2018 by professors and students at Binghamton University at the State University of New York (USA).
Indeed, food packaging could have a negative impact on the functioning of your digestive tract.
Researchers have found that zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO) at doses that are appropriate for what you normally eat during a meal or a day can change the way your gut absorbs nutrients or expression. of your genes and intestinal proteins.
These ZnO nanoparticles are present in the coating of some cans for their antimicrobial properties and to prevent the staining of sulfur-producing foods.
In the study, canned corn, tuna, asparagus and chicken were studied using mass spectrometry to estimate how many particles could be transferred to food. It was found that the food contained 100 times the daily dietary zinc intake.
NANOPARTICLES AND HEALTH
Some researchers have already examined the effects of nanoparticles on intestinal cells, but they tend to work with very high doses and look for obvious toxicity, such as cell death.
In this latest study, the researchers looked at cellular function, which is a much more subtle effect, and doses of nanoparticles that are closer to what you could actually be exposed to.
THE EFFECT OF PARTICLES ON THE DIGESTIVE TRACT
Nanoparticles tend to attach to cells representing the gastrointestinal tract and cause remodeling or loss of microvilli, which are tiny projections on the surface of intestinal absorbing cells that help increase the area available for absorption.
This loss of surface tends to lead to a decrease in the absorption of nutrients, some of the nanoparticles also cause a pro-inflammatory signaling at high doses, which can increase the permeability of the intestinal model. This means that compounds that are not supposed to pass into the bloodstream might be able to get there.
Researchers say they do not know if these effects, proven in the laboratory, can have long-term health consequences. Note that this is the first study that analyzes how ZnO nanoparticles affect the human body.
Finally, it is difficult to say what are the long-term effects of ingestion of nanoparticles on human health, especially on the basis of the results of a cell culture model.
What the study model shows is that nanoparticles have effects on the in vitro model , and understanding how they affect bowel function is an important area of study for consumer safety.
To conclude, the researchers indicate that future work will focus on these interactions between the food microbiome and the food additive.