Study shows common synthetic food dye as a potential dietary trigger for IBDs


Long-term intake of Allura Red food dye can be a potential trigger for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, according to Wariul Khan of McMaster University. Researchers using the model found that continuous exposure to Allura Red AC impairs gut health and promotes inflammation.

This dye directly disrupts the intestinal barrier function and increases the production of serotonin, a hormone/neurotransmitter found in the gut. This alters the composition of the gut microbiota and increases susceptibility to colitis.

Allura Red (also known as FD&C Red 40 and Food Red 17) is a common ingredient in candies, soft drinks, dairy products, and some cereals, according to Khan. Dyes are used to add color and texture to food and are often attractive to children.

Although the use of synthetic food dyes such as Allura Red has increased significantly over the last few decades, the effects of these dyes on gut health have been largely unstudied.Khan and his team shared their findings with Nature CommunicationsFirst author is Yun Han (Eric) Kwon, a recent Ph.D. in Khan’s lab.

“This study demonstrates significant detrimental effects of Allura Red on gut health and identifies intestinal serotonin as a key factor mediating these effects. It has important implications for management,” said Khan, senior author and professor of the study, who holds a Ph.D. in Pathology and Molecular Medicine and is a principal investigator at the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.

“Our findings are surprising and alarming because this common synthetic food dye can be a dietary trigger for IBD. “It’s an important advance in warning the public about the potential harm of food dyes,” he said.

“The literature suggests that consumption of Allura Red may also affect behavioral problems in children, such as certain allergies, immune disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

Khan said IBD is a severe, chronic inflammatory condition of the human gut that affects millions of people worldwide. Their exact causes are still not fully understood, but it is known that dysregulated immune responses, genetic factors, gut microbiota imbalances, and environmental factors can cause these conditions. Shown by research.

In recent years, great progress has been made in identifying susceptibility genes and understanding the role of the immune system and host microbiota in the pathogenesis of IBD. But similar progress in defining environmental risk factors has lagged, he said.

According to Khan, environmental factors for IBD include a typical Western diet, including processed fat, lean and processed meats, sugar and lack of dietary fiber. Western diets and processed foods also contain large amounts of various additives and colorings, he added.

He said the study suggested an association between commonly used food dyes and IBD, and that food dyes and IBD need to be further investigated at the experimental, epidemiological, and clinical levels. Added.

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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Journal reference:

10.1038/s41467-022-35309-y



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