You’re eating a credit card’s worth of plastic every week, and it’s altering your gut makeup

How much plastic is sitting on your gut? If you think the answer is zero, think again. A recent review suggests people consume about five grams of plastic particles per week — the equivalent of the weight of a credit card.

Nanoplastics are any plastics less than 0.001 millimeters in size. Microplastics, on the other hand, are 0.001 to 5 millimeters and on some occasions still visible to the naked eye. Most microplastic and nanoplastics find their way to the human food chain from packaging waste.

Plastic particles can enter the body through seafood, sea salt, or drinking water. One study referenced in the review found people who drank the recommended 1.5 to 2 liters of water a day from plastic bottles takes in 90,000 plastic particles per year from this way alone. People who opt for tap water reduce their ingested amount to about 40,000 plastic particles.

Research exploring the number of micro-and nanoplastic particles in the gastrointestinal tract has shown its presence is changing the gut microbiome composition. The changes it’s making are linked to the emergence of metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, or chronic liver disease.

Not only are the changes in the gut microbiome apparent, but scientists have also broken ground on the molecular mechanisms behind the uptake of micro- and nanoplastic particles into gut tissue. Both microplastic and nanoplastic particles potentially activate mechanisms involved in local inflammation and immune response. Evidence has shown that nanoplastics, in particular, trigger chemical pathways involved in the formation of cancer.

While ingesting plastic is harmful to everyone, it is more detrimental to people with chronic diseases. “A healthy gut is more likely to ward off the health risk. But local changes in the gastrointestinal tract, such as those present in chronic disease or even negative stress, could make them susceptible to the harmful effects of MNPs,” says Lukas Kenner, study co-author from the Medical University of Vienna in a statement.

The research is published in the journal Exposure & Health.


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About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

Comments

  1. Thanks for a good article. However, I find that to be highly unlikely: one credit card worth of plastic? per week? I know it is everywhere and that we probably ingest a lot, but it is tiny, hence the name, and a credit cart provides an extreme amount of particles. Are you sure there isn’t a punctuation error somewhere?BTW, I cannot find the original article, do you have a link.

    1. The study does indicate “up to 5g depending on where you live” so that part is only slightly misleading. The really misleading part is they dont mention that the study refers to another that indicates the vast majority just pass right though and only a small fraction would remain in the gut.

      1. The foremost industry in our nation is now the “warning industry.” We’re warned incessantly about everything and anything – God only knows how many innocents are turned into hopeless hypochondriacs from the endless warnings barraging them from all sides.

    2. people do that in vegcaps alone. think they are natural? only by default. they are a semi-synthetic plasit that harms the gut in numerous ways including creating a biofilm that prevents absorption and being impossible to digest (bioaccumulative?) why dont people know this? gelatin, otoh, is a safe food used for centuries. people will swallow anything; pun intended.

        1. Perhaps its #2 in HTPE rating of petroleum-based plastics in water jugs, bottles…other then that…get another test. Unless, you are eating fermenting foods every other day….seems doubtful.

  2. And yet humans live longer than ever. These doom and gloom, the sky is falling stuff all has a political motivation behind it.

    1. You r an absolutely I d 10 t. Good luck with that.

      I he’s gas prices, food shortages, Biden getting us into a war, this plandemic, GeoEngineering aka fake climate change, hasn’t entered your thing brain yet.

      1. Denialists only know what they are fed from the Conservative/Libertarian denialist industry.

        That is why they call themselves “free thinkers”, because they freely think whatever their masters tell them to think.

    2. Absolutely! If the sky wasn’t falling, there would be no need to study it. Think of all the unemployed scientists!

    3. I’m guessing you’ve never read the Bible… people are NOT living longer than ever 🤦‍♀️ We’re literally being poisoned

    4. But at what cost most are not even healthy anymore the only reason is due to medical intervention and medicines, might be living longer but not healthier or better for it.

    5. Living? Or existing, with endless chronic conditions?

      “Global warming” is what is driven by political motivations, while an actual problem like nanoplastics is IGNORED by governments.

  3. Not everyone has a gut full of microplastics! For the last 40 years, I drank water from our private artesian well which is regularly tested (not tap or bottled), I don’t waste the money on sea salt (table salt only), and haven’t eaten much seafood because I don’t like it. Thank You for your concern over my health though.

  4. So what? Where is the evidence that these particles are harmful to humans?

    Many of the particles concerned are at the molecular level. Forget plastic panics. With every breath we take in many thousands of other particles from the air. Smoke, dust, skin from other humans and animals, pollen, bacteria, viruses – the list is endless. Our drinking water contains thousands of molecules that were once in the bodies and urine of other humans and animals as well as dissolved salts . We evolved to thrive in all this

    1. Agreed. The article says “while ingesting plastic is harmful to everyone”, it does not say how it is harmful. If 100% of it just goes right through you without having any biological impact then why does it even matter?

  5. To LoanWolf: I am curious what the alleged “political motivation” would be for a health issue like this. Maybe the liberals want to reduce plastics because they want to infringe on your right to consume microplastics in your food and water?

    1. One motivation would be to ban plastic which is made from those sinister petrol chemicals that are causing our world the brink of human extinction (in less than 5 years no less).

  6. The research was commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for its report “No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People.” The research was done by Australia’s University of Newcastle.

    WWF has zero credibility. Researchers at Newcastle in numerous fields of study have been hit with dozens of charges of fraud and have had hundreds of research papers retracted.

    This might be honest work, but it is coming from a dodgy place. Despite more than $11 billion dollars being spent by the federal government of Australia on research and development each year, there isn’t an independent body designated to investigate allegations of misconduct.

    “Australia is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t have a national office for research integrity. You know, 20 European countries do. The US does, Canada, Japan, even China,” according to Professor Vaux.

    “Australia has a national office for integrity in sports, but we don’t have one for integrity in research”.

    You will likely never hear of this study again.

    And that, Jocelyn, is research YOU should have done. Are you a journalist or a parrot?

  7. I drink double filtered water from a glass… no plastic possible there. Not sure where plastic hides inside a steak or a potato… a turkey… a chicken? Come on man.

  8. If you buy into this, you’re consuming something and it ain’t plastic.
    This smells like 💩 to me.
    OJO
    V–V

  9. I thought bacteria change nano plastic molecules into shorter chains. How do we reduce our intake of nano plastics present in the environment? Filtered water and no plastic storage containers.

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