Food coloring: it’s so pretty. There’s nothing like baking at Christmas and using your reds and greens to dress up those desserts. And what about those birthday cakes? It’s even in some juice!
I’m sure you’ve heard the battles about food coloring’s effect on children with ADHD. For a while, I honestly didn’t know what to believe about this. I’d read both sides; they each had good arguments. (Please know that I was already avoiding food coloring because of the fact that they are ARTIFICIAL. I just didn’t know where to stand on how they affected children’s behavior.) Then my aunt visited for Christmas. She told me that she had seen two different children respond very well to the lack of artificial colors in their diet. I started watching Bella. Any time she was given a snack at church that contained artificial colors, she would (to put it nicely) go berserk.
Was I just seeing what I wanted to? Maybe. But a study done by the University of Southampton found that food coloring and/or sodium benzoate in children’s food increased hyperactivity in those children. ADHD Counsellor has the following posted on their website:
Professor John Warner stated, “significant changes in children’s hyperactive behaviour could be produced by the removal of artificial colourings and sodium benzoate from their diet.” and “you could halve the number of kids suffering the worst behavioural problems by cutting out additives”. In 1982, the NIH had determined, based on research available at that time, that roughly 5% of children with ADHD could be helped significantly by removing additives from their diet. The vast majority of these children were believed to have food allergies. More recent studies have shown that approximately 60-70% of children with and without allergies improve when additives are removed from their diet, that up to almost 90% of them react when an appropriate amount of additive is used as a challenge in double blind tests, and that food additives may elicit hyperactive behavior and/or irritability in normal children as well.
If avoiding artificial colorings for my sanity’s sake isn’t enough, there are other reasons. Blue 1 may cause cancer; Blue 2 does cause brain tumors in mice. Red 3 causes thyroid tumors in rats. Yellow 6 has been found to cause adrenal gland and kidney tumors and contains small amounts of many carcinogens. Green #3 causes bladder and testes tumors in rats.