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Are Artificial Colors bad for you?

As people, we are drawn to colors, in fact, many of us have a favorite color. Color draws us to things psychologically with some colors known to affect your mood and can alter your perspective. Manufacturers draw upon this psychological effect and incorporate color as a marketing strategy. After all, would your kid prefer a plain old white snow cone or a sparkly blue one?

Artificial color is found in products where it doesn’t even appear to make sense. For example, why would one need to color strawberry ice cream red, aren’t the strawberries already red? It is just not red enough and consumers, want to see those bright colors.

Many experts have even questioned the importance of adding these artificial dyes to foods. In their words, they have said that society should examine if the commercial and aesthetic use of these food dyes can be justified. 

Each year, over fifteen (15) million pounds of artificial color is added to food by the food industry. The issue is that most colors you see in food products are made in a lab and they are added for one main reason – to alter how you perceive that product. The question you need to ask yourself is, do you need to ingest what is basically a chemical for no nutritional reason?

The approved artificial colors that can be used in the United States are:

  • Brilliant Blue is also known as FD&C Blue No. 1
  • Indigotine is also known as FD&C Blue No. 2
  • Allura Red is also known as FD&C Red No. 40
  • Tartrazine is also known as FD&C yellow No. 5
  • Sunset Yellow is also known as FD&C yellow No. 6
  • Fast Green is also known as FD&C Green No. 3
  • Erythrosine is also known as FD&C Red No. No. 3

What Are The Purpose Of Artificial Colors 

Some of the reasons why artificial colors are added to food and supplements include but are definitely not limited to the following: 

  • They are used to make food and food supplements more aesthetic, appealing, and attractive to the eyes.
  • They are used to help offset color loss which is caused by extreme temperature, air, light, strange conditions, and moisture. 
  • They are used to correct natural variations
  • They are used to enhance those colors that come naturally. 
  • They are added to ensure that they provide color to foods that are colorless. 
  • They are added to help consumers from all over the world are able to identify the various food products immediately they see them (strawberry products are red for example). 

Why You Should Avoid Artificial Color 

Artificial colors do come with side effects. The issue with most toxins is that in small quantities our bodies are effective at flushing them out. However, something as common as artificial colors exists in so many products that we consume far more than we realize because of the compound effects. Artificial colors are suspected to cause:

1. Neurotoxicity And Hyperactivity

In an analysis that was conducted on food studies in 2004, it was revealed that there is a relationship between food dyes and hyperactivity. Artificial food colors have been known to cause hyperactivity in already hyperactive children because they are considered neurotoxic.

Being neurotoxins, these artificial colors are not just capable of impacting hyperactive children; it is capable of influencing the behavior of non-hyperactive children and even adults.  

2. It causes genotoxicity

You will find it surprising to know that some artificial colors have been revealed to trigger damaging chromosomes or mutations which means they are also genotoxic. All of the artificial colorings used to make food had at least showed one genotoxic result in eleven studies.

4. Affects the immune system

There are small molecules that are used to make food dyes. These small molecules found are capable of binding to the protein in the body right after metabolism or even in the food. Often times, our body acts in such a way that it reacts to these molecules that have been bound with protein. When this happens, hypersensitivity, allergies of all sorts, and intolerance occur. 

Artificial food colors have been linked with health conditions like eczema, dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, food intolerance, food allergies, etc. The artificial color Tartrazine, on its own, is capable of triggering atopic dermatitis symptoms and even asthma attacks.

5. They contribute to obesity in children and even adults; 

Since artificial colors make food more appealing thus they attract children to consume more than they should. These artificial colors take the minds of children away from the many nutritious foods they could have. It makes them long or hunger for these foods that have been made with bright colors, rather than the duller more neutral colors found in food naturally.

The question you might ask is what is the alternative? While it is difficult to get some food colors from nature some brands have been successfully able to extract colors from natural sources.

Products with natural colors are most likely to say so on the package to increase the appeal. However, if you want to spot artificial colors on a label look for the names listed in the top section.

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