Carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) is a synthetic compound widely used as a food additive or emulsifier which enhances texture and promotes shelf life of processed foods since the 1960s however CMC has never been extensively tested in humans.
Researchers performed a randomized controlled-feeding study in healthy volunteers:
The controlled group consumed an additive-free diet.
The experimental group consumed an identical diet supplemented with CMC.
They found that:
CMC consumption selectively reduced bacterial species leading in the gut microbiota.
Fecal samples the experimental group displayed a drastic depletion of beneficial metabolites important to maintain a healthy colon.
Colonoscopies experimental group displayed gut bacteria encroaching into the mucus similar to the inflammatory bowel diseases and type 2 diabetes cases.
These results suggest that further approaches & researches are needed to predict the effect of other food additives on humans.
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Benoit Chassaing, Charlene Compher, Brittaney Bonhomme, Qing Liu, Yuan Tian, William Walters, Lisa Nessel, Clara Delaroque, Fuhua Hao, Victoria Gershuni, Lillian Chau, Josephine Ni, Meenakshi Bewtra, Lindsey Albenberg, Alexis Bretin, Liam McKeever, Ruth E. Ley, Andrew D. Patterson, Gary D. Wu, Andrew T. Gewirtz, James D. Lewis. Randomized controlled-feeding study of dietary emulsifier carboxymethylcellulose reveals detrimental impacts on the gut microbiota and metabolome. Gastroenterology, 2021; DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2021.11.006