Could Chewing Gum Be Behind Your Gut Issues?

Identifying the dietary cause of your gut issues can seem like an impossible puzzle. One day, you’re sure it’s peppers. The next, peppers are fine, but grains aren’t. Pair that with the diarrhea, bloating and constipation that come with intestinal inflammation and it can feel like your own little slice of digestive hell.

But perhaps there is a new answer. There is a food additive you probably haven’t considered, and your chewing gum is loaded with it. That’s right, you may have fresher breath and whiter teeth, but the titanium dioxide in your gum may be fueling the inflammation in your intestines.

It’s well-known that gum isn’t necessarily the cleanest not-a-food product. Loaded with BHT and aspartame, it seems like titanium dioxide is just another in a long list of chewing gum’s questionable ingredients. According to the recent study, when participants ate foods containing titanium dioxide for 5 days, they exhibited small but significant intestinal changes.

The little hairs inside the intestines—the microvilli—showed a reduced ability to absorb important nutrients, which, let’s be honest, is their main job. Metabolism also slowed and participants experienced a slight increase of intestinal permeability, meaning leaky gut. On the whole, the very small but regular quantities of titanium dioxide caused slight changes to the cellular structure of the intestines, changes which encouraged a heightened inflammatory response in the intestinal system.

That’s all from chronic titanium dioxide consumption, something as simple as chewing a piece of gum or two at each meal.

This isn’t entirely shocking information. Prior animal studies have confirmed a link between titanium dioxide and worsened gut health. A 2017 study using mice showed that titanium dioxide consumption indeed exacerbates intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, colitis and IBS. But is it the same risk for humans? It would appear so.

Of course, gum isn’t the only product that contains titanium dioxide. In fact, it’s everywhere, from toothpaste and sunscreen to candies, cheeses, marshmallows and breads. Manufacturers use titanium dioxide mainly for its whitening effect, but also for its anti-caking properties. Yeah, it’s all over those white powdered mini-doughnuts you used to eat as a kid. And your tooth whitening strips. And in paper, ink and paint. Yum.

Titanium dioxide has no purported health benefits when consumed. It’s main food purpose is texture and coloring. And yet, the International Agency for Research on Cancer recently classified titanium dioxide as a “possibly carcinogenic to humans” when inhaled. While this is based on very specific research on rats, it does raise concern. Should this chemical really be going in our foods? Or is it harmless enough for the majority of people?

You may be surprised to find out that even certain probiotics, supplements specifically made for improving intestinal health, actually contain titanium dioxide as an ingredient. That’s why it’s important to start looking at your labels and taking note of how many foods contain titanium dioxide. Be the Sherlock Holmes of your own body. With a little sleuthing, you can bring your intestinal issues a lot of relief.

Do you have digestive difficulties with gum or, specifically, titanium dioxide? Share your experiences with other community members below.  

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87 comments

Cindy S
Cindy Sabout a month ago

it makes me sicker

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W. C
W. C2 months ago

Thanks.

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William C
William C2 months ago

Thank you.

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Mike R
Mike R2 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R2 months ago

Thanks

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Danuta W
Danuta W2 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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John W
John W3 months ago

Good to know :-)

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Katie S
Katie S3 months ago

thanks!

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John B
John B3 months ago

Thanks Jordyn for sharing the interesting info.

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Danii P
Danii P3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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