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To Dye For

I always encourage my patients to have a diet that consists of all colors of the rainbow, but there are certain colors you should avoid - artificial food dyes!

Artificial food dyes have been studied over the past few decades and been shown to lead to many short and long term health concerns. These dyes have shown to be contaminated with carcinogens and high toxicity levels. Some effects include linkage to behavioral problems in children, a disrupted immune system, allergies, cancer causing chemicals in the body and an overall unhealthy diet.

Research has shown that within the past 50 years, the use of synthetic dye used in foods has increased 500%. The consumption of artificial food dyes has also been linked to a boost in behavioral problems in children. They lead to rises in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning impairments, aggression and more behavioral problems.

Experiments have shown that hyperactive children show sensitivity when artificial food colors are in their diet, specifically Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. Red 40 is a chemical compound that comes from coal tars. Coal tar is a thick, dark liquid by-product of burning coal. Red 40 is found in many common foods and medications. Reading food and medication labels is important to be aware of for yourself and your children.

Throughout the past couple years I have seen the effects that foods with artificial dyes have on my own son. I have kept him away from foods with artificial colors and have tried alternatives that include natural coloring. This change has had positive effects on his daily behavior and attitude.

Being aware of the nutrition label and ingredient lists are very important. Below are some foods that you may not know contains artificial coloring:

  • Yogurt

  • Instant Oatmeal

  • Chewing Gum

  • Ice Cream

  • Cereal

  • Flavored Applesauce

  • Candy

One study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found a 41% increase of ADHD diagnoses in teenage boys within the past decade. Within that same time period, the legal amount of artificial colorants that have been allowed by the FDA is an outstanding amount. There is not much control over these colorants and they may never receive the restrictions needed for our society to become safer and healthier.