Artificial food coloring dyes have been around since 1856. They were originally made from coal tar, but today’s food dyes are made from petroleum. Not exactly a step in the right direction, at least in my opinion. Artificial food dyes are responsible for the bright colors we see in candy, some cereals, sports drinks, and baked goods. But they are also found in certain brands of pickles, smoked salmon, salad dressings and medications. The list goes on and on. The 2 reasons for the food industry to use dyes is 1) they are cheaper than natural colors and 2) kids and adults alike are drawn to brighter colors.
Artificial food dye consumption has increased by 500% in the last 50 years, and children are the biggest consumers.
Several European countries have banned artificial dyes and require foods using any still approved unnatural colors to prominently display warning labels on packaging. These labels are required to state that consuming foods containing artificial colors might be linked to behavioral problems in children. American companies including Kellogg’s and McDonald’s have stopped using artificial dyes overseas while they continue to sell foods with questionable ingredients to us, in the U.S. They can and do use natural food coloring abroad, but not for my child.
Research shows that while artificial food coloring may not be the one cause of ADHD, the dyes do affect all children and some significantly. The research showed there is enough proof to say that food dyes can affect the brain and cause general health issues. I have personally experienced the aggression of a child who just 20 minutes before had eaten candy with RED#40. Anything he knew he wasn’t to do - he did. Hit his sisters, turn the tv volume up real loud, slam doors, knock things over, etc. and this would go on for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how much RED#40 was in the food he had eaten. Once when he had a red sports drink, it went on for an hour. His parents soon realized what was happening and have been very careful about what’s in the foods he now eats.
Health-conscious food companies use vegetables, berries and spices to add a bit of color to their products. Mostly beets, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, berries, red cabbage, turmeric, saffron and paprika. And in Europe, McDonald’s uses the red strawberries in their strawberry sundaes to get the hint of red. Here in the U.S. they still use RED#40.
Purdue University research concluded that 1 serving a day of food containing dyes may harm kids. Studies link different food dyes to chromosomal damage, brain tumors, bladder tumors, hyperactivity, lymphomas, asthma, allergies, thyroid tumors, aggression, loss of concentration, and insomnia. The American National Institute of Health(NIH) concluded in 1982 that removing artificial dyes from the diet helped some kids with ADHD.
What can we do for our families to avoid these problems? Read labels, let food companies know you don’t want artificial dyes in your food and use whole foods as much as possible. Just some of the foods that are naturally dye-free include(but not limited to): plain yogurt, unflavored nuts, sunflower seeds, oats, brown rice, beans, lentils, and all fresh fruits and vegetables.
Psalm 139:14 says”...I am fearfully and wonderfully made...”. We should do whatever is humanly possible to maintain overall good health for our families by being informed.