Ho, Ho, Ho: It’s Red & Green Season

You may want to think twice before purchasing that bright red Santa or green Christmas tree cookie.

Yikes, experts are now saying that Yellow 5, Red 40 and Blue 1 really cause kids to bounce off the walls! Say what?

Thirty-three years ago, my 4-year-old daughter’s pediatrician told me I was imagining that artificial colors and flavor contributed to her hyperactivity. It’s true, although he made a vain attempt to be tactful.

Actually, he said it was all the “extra attention” she got when I altered her diet, that made the difference in her behavior. (I switched pediatricians and didn’t ask for his opinion on the matter.)

I guess, it’s not entirely pediatricians’ fault for misinformation. After all the FDA has insisted for years that artificial food dyes are perfectly safe, despite some parents knowing otherwise.

Link To Hyperactivity
If you have a kid, who bounces off the walls after eating a red and green treat, you know what I mean. As many parents with hyperactive children have long suspected (and the Feingold Association affirms), artificial food colors, flavors and preservatives commonly found in processed foods wire some kids. Finally, investigators agree. It’s about time. Up to now, intuitive parents have been made to feel foolish.

In a recent study, three year-old children fed one of two drink mixtures containing common food dyes and the preservative sodium benzoate had significant increases in global hyperactivity scores compared with their behaviors on a placebo drink, reported Jim Stevenson, Ph.D., of the University of Southampton, and colleagues.

A similar effect was seen among eight- and nine-year-olds, who showed signs of hyperactivity in both subjective ratings and a computerized test when given either of the two chemical concoctions but not an all-natural placebo the investigators reported online in The Lancet. In addition, the effects of food additives on behavior can occur in as little as one hour, the investigators reported.

Cancer & Allergies, Too
Even if your child doesn’t appear to be bothered by artificial colors, food dyes have also been linked to allergies and cancer.  Red 40, Yellow 5 and yellow 6 are contaminated with known carcinogens, says the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Blue 1, Red 40 and Yellow 5 & 6 have long been known to cause allergic reactions in some people.

The FDA announced it’s holding a public hearing in March. For food companies, dye removal recommendations AND warning labels would be a problem. That’s because 15 million pounds of synthetic dyes are used a year in everything from cereals, mac and cheese, baked goods, candy, etc.

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but what’s with the artificial stuff? When your kids are sick you have to ask for medications that are not full of artificial colors and flavors. If your child has ever been on antibiotics, you know they’re bright pink and bubblegum flavored.

Food Distributors Avoid Natural Food Colorings
There’s good reason food distributors avoid natural food colorings. Naturally derived colors are 8 to 20 times more expensive than the synthetic counterparts. The good news is natural coloring replacement is already commonplace in other parts of the world.

Products loaded with chemical dyes in the U.S. are made with natural colors in some countries. In fact, in other places like the European Union, many U.S. companies (McDonalds and Coke) already sell chemical dye-free version of their products. There’s hope. If the E.U. can do it, so can we!

This Year, May Your Holidays Be Happy And Healthy.

2 thoughts on “Ho, Ho, Ho: It’s Red & Green Season

  1. Marilyn says:

    When, oh when, will doctors catch up to what us moms already know? We’re not stupid. We can clearly observe the results of artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners on our children’s behavior and ability to learn and function. Personally, I don’t want to wait decades for scientific studies, or for mainstream sources to (hopefully) catch up to what I already see clearly. We have been members of the Feingold Association for seven years now, and it was a LIFESAVER for our family! Any pediatrician who does not automatically hand out Feingold literature to their families who clearly need it, is doing them a GRAVE disservice. Our kids usually need a better diet much more than a prescription for Ritalin! Now if only more parents were WILLING to keep the garbage out of their kids’ diets! Sadly, the parents are often the reason their kids don’t function as well as they could, because they resist a change in their shopping, cooking, and eating habits. Sorry, but my kid is worth a change in the brand of potato chips or ice cream we buy!

  2. Annette says:

    Great post! I can tell you from experience artificial coloring is awful stuff. It affects my son almost instantly but my daughter not so much. My son starts bouncing, jumping, and screaming (not mad just LOUD) it’s pointless to even try talking to him cause his eyes will not focus and it’s obvious he’s not listening. It’s very frustrating. I’ve also experienced doctors trying to “tactfully” tell you you’re crazy. I’ve yet to find a dr. who agrees that my son is sensitive to gluten and dairy.
    For treats we’ve come to love yummy earth lollipops and drops.

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