April 19, 2011

Beware! The Dangers of Artificial Food Dyes

April 19, 2011
Brightly colored candies, drinks, baked goods, cereals and much more adorn all of our local store shelves. They call out to us, "Eat me! I'm bright, sweet, and flavorful!"

Are children are growing up believing that cheese is naturally bright orange, strawberries are ruby red, and raspberries are. . . blue?

But what is really in those colorful treats? 

Most often these colors are the result of artificial food dyes. And you will be surprised how often they are used in everyday foods and drinks. Take a minute or two to look through your pantry or cupboards and see how often Reds, Yellows and Blues are added to your favorite foods.
Are you shocked?
I was!

The Washington Post's article titled "The rainbow of food dyes in our grocery aisles has a dark side" (March 25 2011), stated:
      " Artificial dyes aren’t just making your Yoplait Light Red Raspberry yogurt blush and your Kraft    Macaroni and Cheese glow in the dark. They are causing behavioral problems and disrupting children’s attention, according to a growing number of scientific studies."

"Beyond the behavioral problems and cancer risks, the greatest hazard that dyes pose for children may also be the most obvious: They draw kids away from nutritious foods and toward brightly colored processed products that are high in calories but low in nutrients, such as fruit-flavored drinks and snack foods. Those types of foods are a major force in America's obesity epidemic."

Here is a list of conditions that have possible links to food dyes:
1. Cancer, including brain tumors
2. Allergies, asthma, and sensitivities
3. Behavioral issues, hyperactivity, and ADHD
4. Decreased cognitive function, lowered IQ

Behavior problems? Cancer? Lower IQ?  From food dyes!?  REALLY!?


The British government has recently funded 2 major studies that have concluded that food dyes cause behavior problems, even in children who had previously showed no behaviour issues.

Since these studies, Health officials in the UK have urged manufacturers to discontinue use of the 6 commonly used food dyes, including Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 (some of the dyes used in the studies.)

Here are some examples of what these food dyes are known to do:
-"Red # 40, which is the most widely used dye, may accelerate the appearance of immune-system tumors in mice, while also triggering hyperactivity in children.

-Blue # 2, used in candies, beverages, pet foods and more, was linked to brain tumors.

-And Yellow 5, used in baked goods, candies, cereal and more, may not only be contaminated with several cancer-causing chemicals, but it's also linked to hyperactivity, hypersensitivity and other behavioral effects in children." (Dr. Mercola "The Dark Side of the Rainbow of Food Dyes Being Used to Color Your Food ")

This is scary news, considering the fact that these food dyes are so widely used in everyday products.

Unfortunately, the United States' FDA has chosen not to choose sides on this issue yet.
Their stance on the matter is:
"FDA concludes that a causal relationship between exposure to color additives and hyperactivity in children in the general population has not been established."

It would be a huge ordeal if they come out to warn the population about the dangers of these food dyes. (My guess is that they are biding their time to avoid angry food manufacturers who would be forced to change their recipes. And more importantly,to avoid ANGRY PARENTS!)

Since the studies were conducted in the United Kingdom, many manufacturers who use artificial colors now put a warning label on their packages that says:  "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." And many manufacturers have changed their recipes and discontinued the use of artificial dyes all together.

But what is food without color? Bland, and boring?
Removing artificial dyes from our food isn't the end of color! There are many natural dyes that are safe and effective. For instance, USA made Strawberry Nutri-gran bars contain Red #40, while the ones made in the UK use natural colors, such as beetroot red, anatto, and paprika extract.
In fact, most branches of Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and Mars in the UK have eliminated all artificial colors, the preservative sodium benzoate, and aspartame from their products!
(This almost makes me want to move there!)

Since most of us aren't living in the UK, how do we avoid these dangerous additives?
The best advice is to try and avoid processed foods. They are the main contributor to artificial colors and preservatives in our diets. And on top of this, they are low in vitamins and minerals too. Choose fresh or even frozen foods whenever you can and ALWAYS check the labels!
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