There are flavour-enhancers and additives present in almost all store-bought foods and drinks out there. Health experts have been warning against dangerous impacts of these food additives on the human body. Mounting scientific evidence has suggested that consuming excessive amounts of foods with additives like preservatives and colour enhancers may have long-term impacts on our health. Now a new study has suggested that a common food additive that is used as an anti-mold agent in packaged foods may alter the way our body processes sugar and may even lead to weight gain, raising risks of obesity and Type-2 diabetes. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Tel Aviv and it focuses on the additive propionate, which is a short-chain fatty acid that is commonly used a food preservative.
The study titled, “The short-chain fatty acid propionate increases glucagon and FABP4 production, impairing insulin action in mice and humans”, was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The study was conducted on healthy and non-obese mice and the consumption of propionate was shown to trigger postprandial hyperglyceamia in mice. Propionate is said to be present as a mold-inhibitor in foods like cheeses and baked goods. Earlier research on propionate has shown that it can trigger a rise in glucose levels in dogs, due to two processes- gluconeogenesis and compensatory hyperinsulinemia. Moreover, propionate was also found to also trigger a release of norepinephrine by the sympathetic nervous system.
The results were also said to have been mirrored in another study on human participants. A report on the study in the journal said, “In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in humans, consumption of a propionate-containing mixed meal resulted in a postprandial increase in plasma glucagon, FABP4, and norepinephrine, leading to insulin resistance and compensatory hyperinsulinemia.” The study concluded by saying, “..propionate may activate a catecholamine-mediated increase in insulin counter-regulatory signals, leading to insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, which, over time, may promote adiposity and metabolic abnormalities.” The authors said that this connection between propionate and obesity and diabetes warranted further research.
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