Common Food Preservatives Found to Harm Beneficial Gut Microbes

Common Food Preservatives Found to Harm Beneficial Gut Microbes

Analysis of a common preservative used to kill pathogens in food shows that it affects beneficial bacteria as well, threatening the healthy balance of the gut microbiome. 

A commonly used group of food preservatives known as lantibiotics has been shown to harm or destroy beneficial gut bacteria, according to some recent research. This may mean that they have the potential to disrupt overall gut health by causing an imbalance in the gut microbiome. 

Though naturally produced, lantibiotics act almost like an antibiotic for food, killing potentially dangerous pathogens that could make people sick. Alongside synthetic preservatives, lantibiotics have replaced more traditional preservatives like sugar, salt, vinegar, and alcohol. 

Researchers tested the effects of nisin – a popular type of lantibiotic used in foods like beer, cheese, sausage, and dipping sauces – on both pathogenic and beneficial gut bacteria in a lab setting. They found that nisin had “potent effects” against both, killing bad and good bacteria alike. 

“Nisin is, in essence, an antibiotic that has been added to our food for a long time, but how it might impact our gut microbes is not well studied,” said Zhenrun “Jerry” Zhang, PhD, study author. “Even though it might be very effective in preventing food contamination, it might also have a greater impact on our human gut microbes.” 

What Can You Do? 

Firstly, being aware that some of the foods you eat could be harming your gut bacteria and disrupting your gut microbiome is important. 

Secondly, ensuring you incorporate gut supporting foods in your diet is a must. 

A Diet Your Gut Will Love 

The food and beverages you consume have a direct impact on your gut health. So, the more gut friendly foods and drinks you consume, the better your gut health will be. 

Here are some foods that will help your gut: 

Fermented Foods 

Fermenting is a method of preserving foods with bacteria and yeast. When you eat or drink fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, or kombucha, you get the live bacteria in them. This makes them a great source of probiotics. 

Yoghurt is already a popular food in the American diet. But for gut health, only consume sugar-free yoghurt. Foods high in added sugar will eliminate the beneficial bacteria in your gut. 

Foods that Feed your Microbiome 

Prebiotics function as a food source for your gut microbiome to help it do its job. Consume dietary prebiotics to feed your microbiome, such as whole grains, apples, cocoa extracts, bananas, nuts, seeds, red wine extracts, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and green tea extracts. 


The more vegetables you consume in your diet, the better. Vegetables are beneficial for the gut because they contain fibers that cannot be digested but are consumed by the good bacteria in your gut. Some vegetables that feed your microbes are leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, and root vegetables. 

Camel Milk 

Camel milk may not be top of mind for most people, but it can help promote optimum gut health because camel milk contains probiotics (good bacteria) that can help keep the gut microbiome in balance with optimal numbers of the good bacteria and help keep bacteria in the right ratio to one another. Both things are important for better health.


Drink camel milk or make camel milk kefir. Both are beneficial for better gut health. 



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