Americans are now eating five times as much food dye as we did in 1955. Food coloring, or color additive, is any dye, pigment or substance that imparts color when it is added to food or drink. Food coloring is also used in a variety of non-food applications including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, home craft projects and medical devices.
SOME DANGEROUS SIDE EFFECT OF FOOD COLORING
A 2007 British study found that children who consumed a mixture of common synthetic dyes displayed hyperactive behavior within an hour of consumption.
• Cochineal (E120), a red dye derived from the cochineal insect. (Not Vegan or vegetarian).
• Red No. 3 – Erythrosine, E127 (is commonly used in glacé cherries). Erythrosine is linked to thyroid tumors in rats.
• Yellow No. 5 – Tartrazine, E102 (yellow shade). Tartrazine causes hives in less than 0.01% of those exposed to it.
• Yellow 5 and yellow 6: The store-bought mac and cheese has dangerous dyes made from coal tar, which is also used to seal-coat and preserve products like shiny industrial floors as well as to kill bugs in lice shampoo.
• Blue 1 and blue 2 are most commonly found in sports drinks: Similar to yellow 5 and 6, these blue dyes are a rainbow of health risks, including messing with the cognitive function of hyperactive kids, who performed poorly on tests that measured their ability to recall images, according to a U.S. study published in the journal Science.
• The three most widely used culprits—Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40—contain compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that research has linked with cancer.
• Additionally, some natural food colors can sometimes cause allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in sensitive individuals.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Look for foods bearing the green-and-white USDA certified organic label, but be aware that foods labeled “made with organic ingredients” may still contain synthetic dyes.
Pick an organic brand, which means no added artificial colors, no dairy from cows treated with synthetic hormones, and no genetically modified ingredients. Even better, look for one that’s gluten- and wheat-free.
Water is your best friend during short workouts. For longer activities, you may want to supplement water intake with the new performance drink darling: natural coconut water. It’s a good source of electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium.
Ben Feingold created a popular elimination diet designed to treat hyperactivity. This diet proposes the elimination of artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives in order to decrease hyperactivity. Some studies have disproved Feingold’s theory. Nevertheless, many parents who have tried it have reported an improvement in their child’s behavior.