Op Ed: Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity and Colorful Things to Eat

Autoimmunity & Healing Diets

Jun 13

This is a new feature where I let off some steam about events related to health and nutrition. This is where I let my inherent sarcasm rise to the surface and splinter the lunacy we call evidence based medicine. I call it Oppositional Editorial because I usually think things should be exactly the opposite of what convention says.

Have you looked at the candy aisle lately — or looked at some of the new candy that is marketed to children ? I would NEVER allow that, and I just cringe when I see parents giving their children so much multicolored candy. I want to ask the mother why she lets her children eat that toxic junk. But I control myself, smile and walk away. When my son was little I never allowed him such things to the chagrin of some relatives. Am I a killjoy? I don’t think so.

Food Dyes linked to Attention Deficit and Behavior Problems in Children

This study of hyperactivity and food dyes included a meta-analysis of 15 double-blind clinical trials that evaluated artificial food coloring in children already considered to be hyperactive. The studies showed an increase in their hyperactive behavior and concluded that,

these data suggest that it is best to avoid exposing children to artificial food coloring.

Do we really need studies to know this? I guess so. We need studies so that concerned parents can go before congress and diligently show that “science” backs up their common sense and common knowledge. Then and only then can we ask that congress ban the use of these potentially carcinogenic and neurotoxic substances from food (or the junk they call food).

The European Parliment Requires a Warning Label

In 2009, the European Parliment required foods containing six tested dyes to carry a label warning that these products,

may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.

Isn’t that reminiscent of the warning on a pack of cigarettes? However, to avoid warning labels on their products in Europe, many foodmakers — including U.S.-based companies such as Kellogg and Mars International — replaced the six tested dyes with other dyes, including some natural ones made from fruits and vegetables.

Wouldn’t it make sense to use dyes made of all natural substances all the time? The problem with natural coloring is that is it not as vibrant as artificial and it fades after a while. In addition, and probably most importantly, it is more expensive to use natural colorings.

The FDA is Married to the Food Industry

It’s all in the hands of the powerful food corporations and the Food and Drug Administration.

That worries me.

But now, at least we have science on our side. In fact, this has been taken seriously and a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee has begun a review of the research on the behavioral effects of artificial dyes. This is significant because previously the FDA denied that dyes have any influence on children’s behavior. An FDA staff report concluded that synthetic food colorings do affect some children. Hallelujah!

The Issue Goes Back To 1906

As early as 1906, congress was considering whether or not artificial dyes were bad for us. More recently, in 1960, congress banned color additives that caused cancer in humans or animals. Red dye #3 was found to cause thyroid cancer in rats. However, lobbyists for the fruit cocktail producers were successful in keeping it in the food supply, and banned red #3 only in cosmetics and topical drugs. This is an example of how the FDA protects the public from harmful substances.

More Carcinogens Found in the 1990’s

Three of the most widely used dyes; red#49, yellow #5 and yellow #6 were found to harbor likely human carcinogens in the early 1990’s. However the synergistic carcinogenic potential of multiple dyes has never been tested. And there are many products that utilize more than one color, such as M & M’s and other many other candies and so called foods.

Recent Brohaha with Kraft’s Mac & Cheese

Recently there was a serious issue in the news concerning the colorings (yellow dyes #5 and #6 that are known carcinogens) that are in the US version of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Apparently Kraft saw fit to continue to use the toxic colorings in the US version of their product, but were forced to use a safe, natural coloring in Europe due to safely laws there.

Vani Hari from Food Babe and Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food lead a popular petition (over 270,000 signatures) to stop this nonsense. They even appeared on a Doctor Oz segment. They were truly awesome! You go girls!

It is simply outrageous that an American food company will choose to sell a product — one that is clearly marketed to children with fun characters and colors on the box — that is full of toxic dyes that make children sick physically and behaviorally. The product with the natural colors has a much more subdued box and is not targeted at kids.

Frankly, I don’t think Mac & Cheese in any version is a good food option.  When you are gluten or grain free and dairy free, Mac & Cheese is not on the menu. But, that’s me. The larger issue is the important part here.

I just don’t understand why we need food colorings at all. There are so many beautiful colors in natural foods — vegetables and fruits are vibrant with color. Teach your children to appreciate the vibrant colors in nature by presenting them with natural, real food. These colorful natural foods are what they need to eat without influence by greedy food companies.

I never allowed my son to eat candy. It just wasn’t an option. He brought home the candy his teachers gave out (!!) and traded it in for small toys or chocolate. I did allow chocolate. To this day he does not eat candy and does not crave sugar. That is a gift to give someone and I am so glad I stood my ground on that issue.

What about you? How do you keep toxic foods away from your children? Leave a comment and let me know!

Shared at: Small Footprint Friday

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