Over the past few years, scientists have become increasingly aware of the danger associated with nanoparticles.
Nanoparticles are the remnants of solids like plastics, metals, and even chemical constituents that are left over from the degradation of larger items that make their way into almost every inch of our environment.
Researchers have pointed out nanoparticles from “cleaning beads” are ravaging our seas and harming wildlife.
And nanoparticles left over from industrial facilities have leached into farmland and are consumed by livestock making them sick and even causing them to mutate.
The presence of these nanoparticles has wide-reaching effects on our environment and our health.
Researchers now believe the problems associated with nanoparticles could be even more severe as they’re collecting evidence that shows these nanoparticles could be killing healthy bacteria in the gut.
Gut Bacteria Killed by Nanoparticles
Researchers from the University Medical Center of Mainz in Germany recently noted that nanoparticles could bind to gut bacteria present in the gut microbiome and cause damage to them which ultimately affects the health of the host.
Releasing their findings in the journal npj Science of Food — the researchers show that in their observations once the nanoparticles bind to the gut bacteria, it could alter the life cycle of the gut bacteria as well as influencing how those bacteria interact with the host.
This observation points out that nanoparticles could have a profoundly negative effect on gut bacteria… or it could also lead to new treatments that may increase how well probiotic bacteria work.
For instance, in one of their studies, the scientists sought to see what would happen to a host’s body when the potentially dangerous bacteria Helicobacter pylori was exposed to synthetic nanoparticles.
H. pylori is believed to influence the formation of cancer’s, contribute to GERD and could also be one of the main culprits behind leaky gut.
When exposing H. Pylori to silicon nanoparticles, they observed a decrease in the number of infections present in the host’s body, a promising application for the use of nanoparticles in health modulation.
Studies Show Promising and Disturbing Results
While the application for nanotechnology in affecting gut bacteria is novel and powerful, it doesn’t mean that every single application will result in improved health.
Catharine Paddock Ph.D. writes:
“ Prof. Stauber and his colleagues set up experiments in which they could examine the effects of a wide range of synthetic nanoparticles.
These experiments simulated the journeys that the different particles might make as they travel through the different parts of the gut and encounter various bacteria.
The main result was that all the “currently used or potential future nanosized food additives” showed the ability to bind to bacteria in the gut.
The nanoparticles bound to all kinds of bacteria, including the “probiotic” species that can breed in milk products such as yogurt.
While all the synthetic nanoparticles that they tested attached to bacteria, the researchers noticed differences in their binding properties.
When bound to nanoparticles, the bacteria altered their behavior in some ways that might prove beneficial and in other ways that might not.
However, a potentially disturbing prospect that came up in other experiments was that binding to nanoparticles could render some unfriendly bacteria less visible to the immune system. Such a result could increase inflammation responses, for instance.”
The reason nanoparticles are of particular interest is because of their size. Not only are nanoparticles very easy to introduce into the gut, at the nanoscale (one nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter, which means that there are 25,400,000 of them in 1 inch) these particles exhibit unique effects on bacteria not seen on a larger scale.
Seeing as how some studies have linked imbalance in the microbiome to cardiovascular diseases, allergies, cancer, obesity, and psychiatric conditions. This shows serious promise in the treatment of many medical conditions.