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candies with food dyes

Effects of Food Dyes in ADHD Patients

candies with food dyesThere is an alarming trend among pediatric patients that has recently made front page news. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed 73,000 children and concluded that one in every 10 has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

This is an upsetting 22% increase since 2003. Although there is still quite a bit of controversy regarding the causes and treatment of ADHD, research has confirmed that a toxic food supply and unhealthy lifestyle patterns are the chief contributing factors for this disorder.

There seems to be a consensus among researchers in considering chronic ADHD as a sign of mild brain damage. When certain regions of the brain remain chronically inflamed they fail to function in a proper way. Inflammation inhibits frontal lobe function, which in turn is responsible for concentration and emotional stability.

Other more “primitive” or basic regions of the brain go on overdrive establishing a pattern of poor responses to otherwise mild stimuli. In short, it leads to poor concentration, emotional outbursts and an exacerbated sense of frustration.

There seems to be a strong link between ADHD and a diet that causes inflammation. The main culprits are food additives and other chemicals that are neurotoxic. They are present in every conceivable food item in the market, sometimes in combination with other toxic substances.

A recent study published in The Lancet, concluded that food dyes along with the common preservative sodium benzoate cause many children to become significantly more hyperactive and distractible. This study also concluded that food additives and dyes can do as much damage to children’s brains as the lead in gasoline.


There are also some digestive problems that can dramatically affect brain function and development. A common factor among patients with ADHD is a weak digestive system and the presence of food allergies.

Often times a fungus infection can be present which could be producing more toxic substances that further disrupt the brain‘s proper function. It is wise to address any underlying intestinal problem in order to heal it by avoiding allergens and supplementing with high quality probiotics.

The most common food allergens to avoid include all dairy products and gluten containing grains such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, kamut, & spelt. Soy products are a typical culprit, as are some nuts and eggs.

An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle are highly recommended for a steady improvement from this condition. Anti-inflammatory foods help to modulate the immune system. To effectively eliminate inflammation from the tissues, it is key to completely avoid precooked foods, sugars, and trans fats.

Children, teenagers and adults with ADHD symptoms do very well to incorporate to their daily routine a regular exercise program. Many hyperactive kids are naturally drawn to activities such as bouncing and jumping on a trampoline as well as balance sports such as skating, surfing and snowboarding. All of these balance based activities powerfully enhance the correct functioning of the brain and play an important role in the overall well being of the patient.

Is The Food Supply Contributing to the ADHD Epidemic?

It seems to be quite obvious that the old adage “You Are What You Eat” has become more and more true in recent decades.

We are all more or less familiar with the concept of foods that are good for us and also with the idea that certain other foods can be detrimental to our health.

What most of us do not know is that the US food supply is chock-full with petroleum-based substances, artificial food dyes and even synthetic chemical pesticides. These are man-made additives that are introduced into our food in order to alter its natural qualities and, most commonly, to extend the shelf life of the products in question.

Startlingly, extensive research has shown that many of these additives are linked to many diseases and troubling conditions. In fact, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral problems in children seem to be among the most prevalent of conditions linked to an adulterated food supply.

Parents are the only ones standing between their children and these common additives already present in many common foods. For those wishing to avoid them, purchasing organic foods seems to be the safest alternative.

Ironically, it was a 2007 study conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton in the UK that prompted a study by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into the safety of artificial food dyes and a variety of pesticides. That study found a direct correlation between the habitual consumption of artificial additives and a spike in ADHD rate among young children.


Barely a year later, in 2008, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) chose to  petition the FDA to ban nine specific color additives that had been the focus of the above mentioned UK study. The CSPI has not always shown adherence to the natural health movement and to some these recommendations came as a welcome move towards a safer, healthier food supply worldwide.

A different study published in the journal Pediatrics also found that sustained exposure to common organophosphate pesticides is strongly connected with higher levels of ADHD in children.

This study prompted the 2010 US President’s Cancer Panel Report to offer advice to consumers that urges them to avoid conventionally grown foods and to instead choose food grown without the use of chemical pesticides, growth hormones and other synthetic additives.

Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO explained in response to this advice:

“Organic food production and processing represent the only system that uses certification and inspection to verify that synthetic food dyes and chemicals are not used. Those seeking to minimize their exposure to these chemicals can look for the USDA Organic label wherever they buy their food.”

These facts are a sobering reminder that ADD is not just genetic, as many would have us believe. There are significant environmental factors that can increase a person’s risk of being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

There are entire industries that wish to cover up this information. In this case, conventional agribusiness has a vested interest in the suppression of facts.

It is critical that the word gets out allowing parents to protect their children from chemical exposure wherever it may occur.

References:

FDA, “Quick Minutes: Food Advisory Committee Meeting March 30-31, 2011” http://www.fda.gov/advisorycommittees/ Accessed October 12, 2011

MedPageToday, “Food Dyes and Preservatives May Make Junior Act Up” http://www.medpagetoday.com/Psychiatry/ADHD-ADD/6610 Accessed October 12, 2011

Organic Trade Association, “Organic foods offer alternative to foods containing food dyes, pesticides linked to raising children’s risk of ADHD” http://www.organicnewsroom.com/2011/03/organic_foods_offer_alternativ.html Accessed October 12, 2011

CNN, “Study: ADHD linked to pesticide exposure” http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/17/pesticides.adhd/index.html Accessed October 12, 2011