Artificial food colorings were originally manufactured from coal tar, which comes from coal. Early critics were quick to point this out. Today, most synthetic food dyes are derived from petroleum, a crude oil product commonly used to also make gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and plastic. Some critics argue eating this petroleum is no better than eating coal.
In the early 1900s, it became common for U.S. food manufacturers to add artificial coloring or dyes to foods. The use of artificial food coloring has steadily increased since the 1950s; within the past 50 years, the amount of synthetic dye used in foods has increased by 500%!
Artificial coloring is used in thousands of foods, including soda, breakfast cereals, candies, snack foods, baked goods, frozen desserts, and even pickles and salad dressings.
Is it Safe to Eat?
Today, although artificial coloring is commonly added to food, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to eat. Food coloring is FDA approved, making it “safe” to eat, but you might be eating highly processed and chemically engineered foods. Studies have linked artificial food dyes to numerous harmful effects:
- Hyperactivity, including ADHD
- Behavioral changes, such as irritability and depression
- Repeat occurrence of hives
- Respiratory disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis
- Increased inflammation, causing disruption of the immune system
- Negatively impacts nerve cell development
- Negatively impacts function of liver and other vital organs
- Interfere with digestive enzymes our bodies produce to aid proper break down of food we eat
- Increases intestinal permeability, aka “leaky gut”
- Tumor growth (three of the most commonly used food dyes –Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6– are contaminated with known carcinogens or cancer-causing substances, such as 4-aminobiphenyl, 4-aminoazobenzene, and benzidine. According to the FDA, these contaminants are present in food dyes at “safe” levels. Red 3 was found in 1990 to be an animal carcinogen, but for some reason is still permitted in our food.)
These synthetic dyes raise significant health concerns, especially with children.
- Red 40 is shown to trigger hypersensitivity
- Yellow 5 is linked to hyperactivity, hypersensitivity, and other unfavorable behavioral effects
- Studies show eliminating artificial food dyes from children’s diets may help to reduce symptoms of attention-related disorders and other behavioral problems
Why Use Artificial Dyes Then?
Food manufacturer use of artificial dyes to color foods gives the food no nutritional value whatsoever and is mainly used for aesthetic purposes, to make the food look more appealing and attractive to consumers, especially children. These dyes are much cheaper, have a longer shelf-life, and are brighter colored than most natural food colorings. The artificial colors mask the absence of brightly colored natural ingredients, such as fruit.
Most foods containing artificial food dyes are highly processed, contain little if any natural nutrients, and are high in calories & added sugars. Simply put, artificial food dyes are likely to be detrimental to our health, which is supported by the cancer-causing, immune-disrupting, behavior-altering effects they are linked to. Remember, what we put in our bodies has a direct effect on our cells, which in turn dictates our health & wellbeing. Do a big favor for your health, and choose to put healthy, naturally-colored foods in your body. You can even make your own food colorings!
- Red: beet root, cranberry, cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, tomato
- Pink: raspberry, strawberry
- Orange: carrot, paprika, pumpkin, sweet potato
- Yellow: saffron flower, turmeric powder, butternut squash
- Green: kale, spinach, matcha powder
- Blue: blueberry
- Purple: blackberry, purple potato
- Brown: cocoa powder, coffee, tea
Keep in mind you only want to use small amounts of each coloring. These are foods after all, and since they’re being juiced, their tastes will be strong. Best to begin with 1 teaspoon to start, as you can always add more as needed. You can store these food dye substitutes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Immune Solution’s recommendation is to eat real food. Look at food labels; strive to eat mostly unprocessed, real food absent of artificial dyes and other synthetic additives. When choosing to eat processed foods, look at the label to see if dyes are in the ingredients list. Avoid those foods, opting to eat foods colored by natural ingredients.
A whole food diet properly reinforced with premium quality supplements is always a winning plan for healthy complete nutrition!
Cheers to your health today and every day!
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “Color Additives Questions and Answers for Consumers.” U.S. Food & Drug Administration: www.fda.gov (2018).
- Kobylewski, Sarah, and Michael F. Jacobson. Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks. Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2010.
- Kobylewski, Sarah, and Michael F. Jacobson. “Toxicology of Food Dyes.” International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 18.3 (2012): 220-246.
- Okafor, Sunday N., et al. “Assessment of the Health implications of Synthetic and Natural Food Colourants – A Critical Review.” UK Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biosciences 4.4 (2016): 01-11.
- Vojdani, Aristo, and Charlene Vojdani. “Immune reactivity to food coloring.” Alternative Therapies 21 (2015): 1-100.