If you suffer from recurrent stomachaches, the culprit may be hiding in your purse, pocket or pantry.
Researchers at Binghamton University in New York found that chronic exposure to titanium dioxide — an additive present in chewing gum, candy and bread — changed digestive cells’ structure and function.
Ultimately, the study suggests that frequent consumption of foods with the additive may lead to less nutrient absorption, impaired digestive function and a slower metabolism. Chronic exposure also led to more inflammation, an effect that is tied to chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Although researchers haven’t yet replicated the study in humans with food products, authors tested 89 common items including gum, mayonnaise and Twinkies, and found they all contained titanium dioxide.
“To avoid foods rich in titanium oxide nanoparticles, you should avoid processed foods, and especially candy,” study author Gretchen Mahler, a biomedical engineering assistant professor, said in a news release.
Titanium dioxide is also used in toothpaste, chocolate, donuts and skim milk, according to Binghamton University.
To spot titanium dioxide in your food, simply check out the ingredients list on their labels.