After 12 weeks of regular intermittent exposure (which mimics the type of exposure a human might get from food), researchers found that AR harmed gut health and contributed to chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract in mice.

Specifically, researchers found that AR directly disrupts gut barrier function, alters gut microbiota composition, and is linked to an increased susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is an umbrella term for diseases like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis, which are characterized by chronic inflammation and autoimmunity in the gut.  

Study author Waliul Khan, Ph.D. explained in a news release: “What we have found is striking and alarming, as this common synthetic food dye is a possible dietary trigger for IBD. This research is a significant advance in alerting the public on the potential harms of food dyes that we consume daily.”

Yes, you read that correctly—daily. Many people consume AR every single day in foods like candy, soda, dairy products, and cereals. Children are also at risk, as it’s often added to kid’s products to add color and texture.

Previous research had shown us that some food dyes, including AR, triggered inflammation and oxidative stress. But this study gave us more information on exactly how this dye actually affects our gut and is linked to disease. This is a big deal when you consider that around 1.3% of U.S. adults report being diagnosed with IBD2 (either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis). Furthermore, there’s currently no cure, and many treatments fail to put the disease fully into remission. 

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