The changes in the gastrointestinal tract from plastic are linked to metabolic diseases like obesity, diabetes and chronic liver disease.

While Medical University of Vienna researchers are studying the impacts that nano- and microplastics have on the body, they also discovered how these tiny plastics weasel their way into our gut tissue.

When in the gut, the plastic particles trigger an immune response and activate inflammation, with mounting evidence suggesting that nanoplastics specifically “trigger chemical pathways involved in the formation of cancer.”

Drinking the recommended amount of water — 1.5 to 2 liters daily — through plastic bottles alone will introduce 90,000 plastic particles per year into your body, according to a study referenced in the review.

But not so fast — drinking tap water doesn’t solve the problem, either: Those who drank the same amount of water from the tap ingested about 40,000 plastic particles each year.

According to the study, the health effects of plastic “may be irreversible” and that this is a risk future generations must brace for. Yet, the authors conceded, plastics are “irreplaceable” in daily life.

So, while it’s seemingly impossible to escape ingesting nano- and microplastics, Lukas Kenner, one of the study’s co-authors, explained to Gut Health News that it’s more harmful to people with chronic illness.

“A healthy gut is more likely to ward off the health risk,” he said, adding that, “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,” he added.