Thursday, May 9, 2013

Food dyes-Red and Yellow and Blue, OH MY!

Food dyes.  They are the bane of my existence.  When I pick up a product in the grocery store and read the ingredient list, I take it very personally when I see red 40, blue 1, yellow 5 etc...

It doesn't take a scientist to realize that artificial food dyes are harmful.  The fact that the word "artificial" is in the name should be your first tip off.  Food is not supposed to be colored.  I have yet see an apple produce an electric shade of blue on its own.  Instead, food manufacturers are "adding" this to our food to make it more "appealing". Instead though, they are creating a slew of problems such as hyperactivity, behavioral problems, migraines, tumors in rats, etc...

Aidan used to consume food dyes.  I'm not going to lie. I was once one of those parents who didn't read labels until I had to.  I knew something was wrong when Scott and I would notice Aidan in either a daze after ingesting food dyes or completely off the wall.  There were several times we had to leave restaurants and outings because his behavior was so out of control there was no way to contain it.  I remember watching him stand on the other side of the room and run, throwing himself into the couch over and over again.  This could go on easily for over an hour.  It was like his brain was short circuiting every which way and nothing we could do would help.  We literally had to ride it out with him.

After looking up his symptoms on Google, or as I like to say, Dr. Google, I came across a site for "The Feingold Diet".  Here is a link:  I devoured the information on the site and ordered the materials.  Now, I'm not advocating anyone buy anything, trust me, I know times are not great for a lot of people, but the information was invaluable.  If you can swing it, it's worth the investment.  They put out a new grocery list each year but I have been able to hang on to my copy for a lot longer than that.  I just ordered the newest version last year after 4 years of using the older version.

The diet is a guide to eating and buying foods without food dyes and preservatives (BHA,BHT).  There is also a section on salicylates, but for this blog we will stick to dyes.  So what should we do?  Well, first we need to know what these abbreviations, letters and numbers stand for and look like so we can avoid buying food containing them.  So here is a little crash course.
FD&C- Foods, Drugs and Cosmetics, Blue 1,Blue 2,Red 3,Red 40,Yellow 5,Yellow 6
Below is a snippet from the Center For Science in the Public Interest:
Blue 1: was not found to be toxic in key rat and mouse studies, but an unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice, and a preliminary in vitro study raised questions about possible effects on nerve cells. Blue 1 may not cause cancer, but confirmatory studies should be conducted. The dye can cause hypersensitivity reactions.
Blue 2: cannot be considered safe given the statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. It should not be used in foods.
Red 3: was recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and  is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. All uses of Red 3 lakes (combinations of dyes and salts that are insoluble and used in low-moisture foods) are also banned. However, the FDA still permits Red 3 in ingested drugs and foods, with about 200,000 pounds of the dye being used annually. The FDA needs to revoke that approval. 
Red 40: the most-widely used dye, may accelerate the appearance of immune-system tumors in mice. The dye causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in a small number of consumers and might trigger hyperactivity in children. Considering the safety questions and its non-essentiality, Red 40 should be excluded from foods unless and until new tests clearly demonstrate its safety. 
Yellow 5: was not carcinogenic in rats, but was not adequately tested in mice. It may be contaminated with several cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, Yellow 5 causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions in a small number of people and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. Posing some risks, while serving no nutritional or safety purpose, Yellow 5 should not be allowed in foods.
Yellow 6: caused adrenal tumors in animals, though that is disputed by industry and the
the FDA. It may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals and occasionally 
causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. Yellow 6 adds an unnecessary risk to the food 

Now, I know that is scary.  I still shiver when I think how much of that stuff went into Aidan's body before I knew better.  However, the results we saw after we eliminated food dyes was nothing short of miraculous.  Within 2 weeks were were getting positive notes home from his teachers.  I remember one note said "I don't know what you did over winter break, but Aidan is doing wonderfully".  He still had some other issues, but we NEVER had another incident of couch tackling.  We were moving in the right direction.  To this day, I can tell when Aidan ingests food dye.  His behavior isn't what it was when he was younger, but he still becomes dazed, out of it and cries at the drop of a hat.  

So what's the cost of this food?  A lot of it is surprisingly affordable.  Things like lays chips are on the diet list as are a lot of other food you find in regular grocery stores.  However, if your kid is a poptart fan like mine is, you will have to fork over more money for organic.  I have found Trader Joe's to be the cheapest for these types of products.

So there you have it in a very condensed manner.  It really is worth checking out the Feingold Diet especially if you are new to an autism diagnosis and even ADHD. It's worth a try and it's good for your entire family, not just our affected children.

Much love....