Reference: Learning Disabilities of America May/June 2011 Newsletter
Healthy Children Project
Article by Maureen Swanson
Healthy Children Project Coordinator
At the beginning of April, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee decided that there is not sufficient evidence to support a link between artificial dyes in foods and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The committee failed to recommend any ban or regulation of dye additives in food products. They did call for more research.
There are seven primary food dyes used in the United States: Red #3, Red #40, Blue #1 & #2, Green #3 and Yellow #5 and #6. There are two limited use dyes: Orange B used in hot dog and sausage casings, and Citrus Red 2 allowed only for coloring orange peels. The dyes are used to make foods, candy and drinks more appealing, especially to children. European countries already have banned some food dyes, including Blue #1 and Yellow #5 and #6. In many cases, manufacturers now use natural colorings for food products in the European market.
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, Yellow #5 may be more likely to cause problems with attention and behavior than other additives. Yellow #5 is found in beverages, candy, ice cream, custards and other foods such as macaroni and cheese mixes. The FDA requires manufacturers to label foods that contain Yellow #5 in the list of ingredients.
Many parents and teachers have their own anecdotal evidence that food dyes and preservatives seem to contribute to a child’s hyperactivity, behavior or attention problems. LDA often takes a position that it is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to children’s health and learning.
If you want to avoid food dyes and preservatives for your family, summer is a great time to change eating and food shopping habits. Foods to avoid include brightly colored, processed foods, which are most likely to contain one or more food dyes. Another good rule of thumb is that if you cannot understand or pronounce the ingredients in a food product, you shouldn’t eat it.
To quote Michael Pollan, well-known author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “Food Rules”, one of the best ways to ensure a healthier diet is to “Eat Real Food.”
By real food, Pollan means fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy and meat that have not been “processed” with other ingredients into packaged foods. In summer and early fall, farmers markets and backyard gardens make this kind of eating much easier. If possible, load your plate with locally grown fruits and vegetables.
To have healthy, locally grown produce available year-round, one option is to can fruits and vegetables. Another way to preserve some fruits and vegetables is to freeze them – this works well with blueberries, corn, beans, peas, rhubarb and many other fruits and vegetables. For a “how-to” guide on freezing fresh food, see the charts at the following website: where can i buy Premarin
While European governments seem more willing to take precautionary measures to protect people, especially children, from the possible harmful effects of food dyes, the FDA’s recent ruling means that in the United States, we have to take our own precautionary measures.