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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.


Another situation where artificial colors can affect our body is through cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. A majority of public companies promote and sell products containing artificial colors on a daily basis. Their marketing and promotion strategies use the colors to attract the viewers eyes, ultimately influencing us to buy and use the product. This can eventually cause problems that affect our skin and body. Most of the public is unaware of the truth of artificial coloring.


Since the molecules in the colorants are so small and unsafe, our immune system is sometimes unable to defend against them and attach to proteins in our body. An inflammatory response is then set in. The body proteins are not protected and therefore this can cause a disrupt in our immune system and consequences later down the road.



Whether it's dying eggs for Easter, baking cupcakes for a birthday party or any other homemade activity, make sure to use natural food coloring to avoid health consequences.



There are also various food options with natural food coloring, made from veggies and fruit at local grocery stores such as Trader Joes, Whole Foods and even the Boise Co-op! I always make sure to shop at these stores and find some natural goodies for my family! You can basically guarantee anything from these places is natural and non-artificial!

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