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the harmful effects of cellulose gum on the microbiota

Almost 20 million people worldwide are believed to be affected by chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Faced with the prevalence of these diseases, researchers at the Cochin Institute in Paris have looked into the environmental causes and in particular the impact of diet. These researchers notably studied the impact of carboxymethylcellulose (more commonly known as cellulose gum or E466), a food additive, on the microbiota. This thickener, gelling agent is added to many processed foods to improve their texture and extend their shelf life.

A decrease in good bacteria

In previous work, they had shown that cellulose gum altered the composition of the microbiota of mice. This time, they recruited a small group of healthy volunteers divided into two groups. One consumed a strictly controlled diet without any additives, and the other an identical diet but supplemented with carboxymethylcellulose.

After two weeks, the researchers observed that, in participants consuming CMC, the composition of bacteria present in the gut was altered, with a marked decrease in the amount of certain species known to play a beneficial role in human health, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, explains Inserm. (…)

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