Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Why We All Need Green In Our Lives

(CNN) It’s the color of the Emerald Isle, the hue of sickness and envy, and a shade associated with grotesque monsters. And its most universal interpretation conjures imagery of nature, a vibrant symbol of the environmental movement and healthy living.

Green, the mixture of blue and yellow, can be seen everywhere and in countless shades. In fact, the human eye sees green better than any color in the spectrum.

This, along with many other facts about this earthly color, makes it an essential part of our everyday lives.

But why is that?

Helping you see

We see green with ease because of how light reaches our eyes; the human eye translates waves of light into color.

When we see a green frog, the color that we see is the light reflected off of the surface of the frog’s skin, perceived by our eyes as green.

When we see these colors, the cones in our eyes are able to process the wavelengths and tell the brain what color is being observed.

Humans are trichromats, meaning we perceive three primary colors: blue, green and red. The retina in a human eye can detect light between wavelengths of 400 and 700 nanometers, a range known as the visible spectrum.

Each primary color corresponds to a different wavelength, starting with blue at the lowest (400 nanometers) and red at the highest (700 nanometers).

In the middle of the spectrum resides the color green, at around 555 nanometers. This wavelength is where our perception is at its best. Because of its position in the center of the spectrum, both blue and red light waves are enhanced and better perceived with the help of green waves.

Knowing your environment

Green space sweeps the planet. Before skyscrapers and suburbs popped up, our ancestors resided in forested regions full of greenery.

As they scavenged for food, the ability to differentiate between colored berries against the backdrop of green foliage was critical for survival.

The evolution of eyesight and the increasing ability to detect color with fine detail gave our primate ancestors an evolutionary advantage over other mammals who could not discern such differences as well.

Color changes in leaves, fruits and vegetables can indicate age or ripeness and even offer a warning that something may be poisonous or rotten.

Today, we continue to use this ancestral instinct at a farmers market or grocery store.

Sourcing your food

Bananas, though widely considered to be a yellow fruit, start off as green due to the presence of chlorophyll. Just as grass and leaves have chlorophyll to give them color, so do fruits.
Located in the cells of plants, chlorophyll plays a crucial role in photosynthesis, allowing plants to harvest energy from sunlight and convert it into energy that the plant can use to grow.

The molecule absorbs blue and red light well while reflecting the green light that we see.

The peels of bananas are bright green in color until the chlorophyll inside the peel begins to break down. As the fruit ripens, the molecule in the peel breaks down and we observe a color change from green to bright yellow – and we prefer to eat yellow bananas because they are sweeter.

While the chlorophyll in the banana breaks down, the starch in the peel is converted into sugar, so more yellow means more sugar – until it begins to rot.

Because of their high starch content, greener bananas are sometimes favored as a cure for upset stomachs.

This change in color also applies when glancing over an aisle of bright bell peppers. Our eyes help us find our favored ripeness and sweetness. Green peppers, with more chlorophyll, are less sweet. As they turn yellow and red, the peppers become sweeter.

When we’re enjoying a salad, a brown piece of wilted lettuce or kale is almost always discarded. And our eyes tell us the lawn is overdue for some maintenance when the color darkens.

So although we may not reside in the forests anymore, our keen perception of green continues to play a significant role in keeping us healthy.

Keeping you calm

Some scientists and researchers also believe that because our eyes are at the peak of their perception to detect the wavelengths corresponding with the color green, the shade may calm us down.

With less strain to perceive the colors, our nervous system can relax when perceiving the tone.

This sedative quality of green may explain why there is so much of it in hospitals, schools and work environments. Historically, actors and actresses would recess to green rooms after so much time looking into bright lights on stage, though modern “green rooms” are rarely painted green.

Helping you live longer

Natural environments, full of green vegetation, might help you live longer.

A 2016 study found that living in or near green areas can was linked with longer life expectancy and improved mental health in female participants. Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital compared risk of death with the amount of plant life and vegetation near the homes of more than 100,000 women.

After the eight-year study was completed, the data revealed that participants who lived in the greenest areas had a 12% lower death rate than women living in the least green areas.

With more green space, study authors said, came more opportunity to socialize outdoors.

Additionally, the natural settings – compared with residential regions where plants and greenery were sparse – proved to be beneficial to mental health.

“We were surprised at the magnitude of the mental health pathway,” said Peter James, study author and research associate at the Harvard Chan School’s Department of Epidemiology.

Of those who did not live in greener areas, respiratory issues were the second highest cause of death. The study indicated that less exposure to polluted air may have been one of several reasons for increased life expectancy among for those who lived in green areas.

Our ancestors lived their entire lives outdoors. The benefits we stand to gain from adopting an outdoor mindset, James says, could have a positive impact. “We know already that vegetation can help mitigate the effect of climate change. Our study suggests the potential co-benefit for health.”

Article by Robert Jimison, CNN        Mon June 5, 2017
source: www.cnn.com
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Caramel colouring in pop to be studied by FDA

Safety analysis will help U.S. agency determine if regulatory change needed

The Associated Press     Posted: Jan 23, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is conducting new studies of the safety of caramel colouring in soft drinks and other foods, even though previous research has shown no identifiable health risk.

The agency’s announcement comes in response to a study by Consumer Reports that shows varying levels of 4-methylimidazole — an impurity formed in some caramel colouring at low levels during the manufacturing process — in 12 brands of soda from five manufacturers.
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Coke, Pepsi and other soft drink makers say they have directed their caramel-colour suppliers to reduce levels of 4-methylimidazole.

The FDA says it has already studied the use of caramel as a flavor and colour additive for decades and it has no reason to believe the colouring used is unsafe. The agency said it is also reviewing new data on the safety of 4-methylimidazole but did not say what that data is.

“These efforts will inform the FDA’s safety analysis and will help the agency determine what, if any, regulatory action needs to be taken,” said FDA spokeswoman Juli Putnam.

There are no federal limits on the amount of 4-methylimidazole, which the FDA says can also form in trace amounts when coffee beans are roasted or some meats are grilled.

The Consumer Reports study urged the agency to set a maximum level of the substance when it is artificially added to foods or soda, to require labelling when it is added and to bar products from carrying the “natural” label if they contain caramel colours.

“There is no reason why consumers need to be exposed to this avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from colouring food and beverages brown,” said Consumer Reports’ Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist and lead investigator on the study.

Though studies have not been conclusive about whether 4-methylimidazole is a carcinogen, California includes it on the state list of carcinogens and a state law mandates a cancer warning label on products that have a certain level of the substance. In reaction to that law, Coke, Pepsi and other soft drink makers have directed their caramel-colour suppliers to reduce the levels of 4-methylimidazole. It is not found in all caramel colourings.

Over an eight-month period, the study found that single servings of two products purchased in California, Pepsi One and the beverage Malta Goya, exceeded the 29 micrograms of 4-methylimidazole that are the threshold in California but carried no warning. Consumer Reports has asked the California attorney general’s office to investigate; a spokesman for the attorney general says the office is reviewing the request.

PepsiCo spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez said the company is “extremely concerned” about the study and believes it is factually incorrect.

Gonzalez said the average amount of soda consumed daily by those who drink it is less than a 355-mL can, so the samples actually do not exceed the limit of 29 micrograms a day.

“All of Pepsi’s products are below the threshold set in California and all are in full compliance with the law,” she said.

The drinks tested were Sprite, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Dr Pepper, Dr. Snap, Brisk Iced Tea, A&W Root Beer, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi One and Goya Malta. Consumer Reports said there was no significant level found in Sprite, and consistently low levels were found in Coke products.

source: www.cbc.ca

 


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Think Food Doesn’t Affect Behavior? You’ve Got to Read This.

November 7, 2013    By Adrienne

{Today I have the pleasure of introducing to you Ruth Almon, of Paleo Diet Basics.  Ruth is sharing with us some fascinating information about how food affects behavior.  I was amazed when I read this–check it out and make sure to share it to get the word out.  So many behavioral issues can be traced to the gut. We need to all inform and empower parents to make a difference in their children’s (and their own) lives.}

It’s common to joke about kids being on a sugar high after a party, so all of us know –on some level–that food influences how kids behave.

But how many of us realize the extent to which our children’s day-to-day actions are shaped and molded by the foods we feed them?

An experiment on the effects of food on behavior done by the British TV series, The Food Hospital, produced shocking results. Party food loaded with sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives has the power to turn your lovely, cooperative child into a badly behaved, physically aggressive youngster.

The Food and Behavior Experiment

Children in Britain aged 5 – 9 attended a party. They were split into two groups:

Group One: was fed healthy options such as apple slices, carrot sticks, sandwiches, hummus, etc. and was given water to drink.

Group Two: received the usual party fair: candy, potato chips, and soda (or as they say in the UK, sweets, crisps, and fizzy pop), all containing loads of sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives.

The children’s ability to follow instruction, concentrate, and remember information was then measured as they played party games, and their actions were carefully recorded. You may be surprised by what they found.

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It wasn’t only how they behaved that was remarkably different.

The healthy food group did “48% better in the games overall” – that’s a huge improvement in performance.

Conclusion

Those who ran the study say that they don’t know what it is in the party food that affects the children. Is it the sugar? The artificial coloring? Maybe the lack of essential nutrients? It’s not clear.

I suspect it’s a combination, with individual children being more affected by different things.

What is clear is that children not only behave better but concentrate better, follow instructions better, and remember more when they eat healthier food. Let’s not forget that concentration, following instructions, and memory are fundamental building blocks of the learning process and vital for success at school.

 Are We Setting Our Kids (and Ourselves) Up for Failure?

So having watched this segment, I couldn’t help think that many kids are inadvertently being set up for failure by their own parents. Moms and Dads certainly intend to do the best for their children, and part of this can mean feeding them “regular food” that won’t set their children apart from their friends. But in doing so, our children are being sabotaged in ways that make it difficult for them to perform school tasks successfully.

They’re fed processed foods that can make them aggressive and difficult to control. Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, they’re penalized for their inability to learn and their out-of-control behavior.

We all know that a child who is constantly hitting other children, having tantrums, and running around wildly is a child who is continually reprimanded. We also all know a child who doesn’t follow teachers’ instructions, can’t remember what he or she was taught yesterday, or can’t concentrate long enough to finish a task receives poor grades and negative feedback.

No parent wants this for his or her child. 

Tragically, in the worst cases, kids who are simply reacting to what they are being fed end up taking unnecessary prescription drugs or are sent to special schools.

Setting Children up for Success

How do we feed children to prepare them succeed in school and get along in society? Generally speaking, the more natural a food is, the less likely it is to cause a severe behavioral reaction. Keep in mind that there are plenty of individual differences in how children react to specific foods and additives.

One family might discover that avoiding a certain additive transforms their child into a little angel, while in another family cutting out wheat may do wonders.

That said, watch out in particular for these three substances, which are often linked with behavioral problems.

Three of the Most Troubling Things to Eat

1. Artificial Coloring 

More and more evidence is pointing to artificial food dyes as a major cause of ADHD in children. While this hasn’t been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, the facts are strong enough to convince many European countries to ban blue 1 (brilliant blue), blue 2 (indigo carmine), yellow 5 (tartrazine), and yellow 6 (sunset yellow) among others. These food colors have FDA approval and are found in cereal, candy, and a variety of colorful foods popular with children.

2. Sugar

There is a shocking amount of sugar in processed foods – and some of it is lurking in places you wouldn’t suspect. One 12 oz. can of coke has 9 ½ teaspoons of sugar. The same amount of Tropicana Farmstand Juice has 9 teaspoons. There’s also lots of sugar in flavored yogurts and chocolate milk – not so surprising. But did you know that there is often sugar in savory foods, such as ketchup, bread, sausages, and barbeque sauce? Your child can consume a considerable amount of sugar even before you let him or her eat candy, and high sugar levels contribute to hyperactivity.

3. Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a preservative found in carbonated beverages and fruit juices, condiments, candies and many other products. It has been implicated either separately or together with artificial colorings for causing or aggravating ADHD symptoms, and is best avoided. Read labels.

A real-food, nutrient-dense paleo diet – which excludes these three substance as well as anything likely to affect behavior – seems to me the best way to ensure your kids get the right nutrition. Click to learn what the paleo diet is.

How Does This Affect Your Family

You may think that these problems don’t affect you since your child doesn’t suffer from serious behavioral problems or learning disabilities. Remember, the children in the video were just a regular group of school kids–not children selected because they didn’t behave well. The impact on them was profound, so clearly, this is a concern for every parent.

Let’s do all we can to set our kids up for success.

(UPDATE:  Think the evidence isn’t compelling enough?  Check out Response to Doubters–STILL Think Food Doesn’t Affect Behavior?  Read This.)

{From Adrienne.  I have REALLY noticed the relationship between food and behavior in our home. We’ve removed colors, preservatives, and then gluten, and sugar and have seen a lot of things improve as a result.  Let’s for sure do what we can to get the word out about this.  So many meds and doctors visits and frustrating scenarios could be avoided if we try to feed our kids (and ourselves) well.}

source: WholeNewMom


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Eight Ingredients You Never Want to See on Your Nutrition Label

By David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding – Mens Health

The year was 1950, and The Magic 8-Ball had just arrived in stores. It looked like a toy, but it wasn’t. It was a future-telling device, powered by the unknown superpowers that lived inside its cheap plastic shell. Despite a bit of an attitude—”Don’t count on it,” “My reply is no”—it was a huge success. Americans, apparently, want to see their futures.

A few decades later, Congress passed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act that, among other things, turned the 45,000 food products in the average supermarket into fortune-telling devices. Americans inexplicably yawned. I’m trying to change that. Why? The nutrition label can predict the future size of your pants and health care bills.

Unfortunately, these labels aren’t as clear and direct as the Magic 8-Ball. Consider the list of ingredients: The Food and Drug Administration has approved more than 3,000 additives, most of which you’ve never heard of. But the truth is, you don’t have to know them all. You just need to be able to parse out the bad stuff. Do that and you’ll have a pretty good idea how your future will shape up—whether you’ll end up overweight and unhealthy or turn out to be fit, happy, and energized.

While researching the new Eat This, Not That! 2013: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution, I identified 8 ingredients you never want to see on the nutrition label. Should you put down products that contain them? As the Magic 8-Ball would say: Signs point to yes.

1. BHA
This preservative is used to prevent rancidity in foods that contain oils. Unfortunately, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) has been shown to cause cancer in rats, mice, and hamsters. The reason the FDA hasn’t banned it is largely technical—the cancers all occurred in the rodents’ forestomachs, an organ that humans don’t have. Nevertheless, the study, published in the Japanese Journal of Cancer Research, concluded that BHA was “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen,” and as far as I’m concerned, that’s reason enough to eliminate it from your diet.

2. Parabens
These synthetic preservatives are used to inhibit mold and yeast in food. The problem is parabens may also disrupt your body’s hormonal balance. A study in Food Chemical Toxicology found that daily ingestion decreased sperm and testosterone production in rats, and parabens have been found present in breast cancer tissues.

3. Partially Hydrogenated Oil
I’ve harped on this before, but it bears repeating: Don’t confuse “0 g trans fat” with being trans fat-free. The FDA allows products to claim zero grams of trans fat as long as they have less than half a gram per serving. That means they can have 0.49 grams per serving and still be labeled a no-trans-fat food. Considering that two grams is the absolute most you ought to consume in a day, those fractions can quickly add up. The telltale sign that your snack is soiled with the stuff? Look for partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredient statement. If it’s anywhere on there, then you’re ingesting artery-clogging trans fat.


4. Sodium Nitrite
Nitrites and nitrates are used to inhibit botulism-causing bacteria and to maintain processed meats’ pink hues, which is why the FDA allows their use. Unfortunately, once ingested, nitrite can fuse with amino acids (of which meat is a prime source) to form nitrosamines, powerful carcinogenic compounds. Ascorbic and erythorbic acids—essentially vitamin C—have been shown to decrease the risk, and most manufacturers now add one or both to their products, which has helped. Still, the best way to reduce risk is to limit your intake.

5. Caramel Coloring
This additive wouldn’t be dangerous if you made it the old-fashioned way—with water and sugar, on top of a stove. But the food industry follows a different recipe: They treat sugar with ammonia, which can produce some nasty carcinogens. How carcinogenic are these compounds? A Center for Science in the Public Interest report asserted that the high levels of caramel color found in soda account for roughly 15,000 cancers in the U.S. annually. Another good reason to scrap soft drinks? They’re among The 20 Worst Drinks in America.

6. Castoreum
Castoreum is one of the many nebulous “natural ingredients” used to flavor food. Though it isn’t harmful, it is unsettling. Castoreum is a substance made from beavers’ castor sacs, or anal scent glands. These glands produce potent secretions that help the animals mark their territory in the wild. In the food industry, however, 1,000 pounds of the unsavory ingredient are used annually to imbue foods—usually vanilla or raspberry flavored—with a distinctive, musky flavor.

7. Food Dyes
Plenty of fruit-flavored candies and sugary cereals don’t contain a single gram of produce, but instead rely on artificial dyes and flavorings to suggest a relationship with nature. Not only do these dyes allow manufacturers to mask the drab colors of heavily processed foods, but certain hues have been linked to more serious ailments. A Journal of Pediatrics study linked Yellow 5 to hyperactivity in children, Canadian researchers found Yellow 6 and Red 40 to be contaminated with known carcinogens, and Red 3 is known to cause tumors. The bottom line? Avoid artificial dyes as much as possible.

8. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, used as a flavor enhancer, is plant protein that has been chemically broken down into amino acids. One of these acids, glutamic acid, can release free glutamate. When this glutamate joins with free sodium in your body, they form monosodium glutamate (MSG), an additive known to cause adverse reactions—headaches, nausea, and weakness, among others—in sensitive individuals. When MSG is added to products directly, the FDA requires manufacturers to disclose its inclusion on the ingredient statement. But when it occurs as a byproduct of hydrolyzed protein, the FDA allows it to go unrecognized.


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7 Food Ingredients That Are Destroying Your Mood

BY LINDSEY SMITH – AUGUST 9, 2013 

Food not only affects your waistline, but it can also affect how you think, act and feel emotionally. Many foods or food additives we consume can wreak major havoc on our nervous system, resulting in moodiness, fatigue, anxiety and even depression. The tiniest hidden traces of these mood-wrecking foods can leave you feeling down. Know what foods to look for to ensure your mood isn’t compromised.

White flour
The fact that white flour is bad for your health isn’t necessarily groundbreaking nutrition information. However, this powdery white substance also sneaks its way into foods like soups and salad dressing by acting as a thickening agent. Because of its empty calories and high blood glucose content, even a small amount can cause mood swings and hunger pains. 

Rule of thumb: If it’s white, don’t take a single bite. Instead, choose 100% whole grains or gluten-free options.

FD & C Red No. 40
This food dye is one of the most commonly used dyes. Its sole purpose is to make food colorful and enhance the flavor, and it’s hidden in everything from frosting and chips to sports drinks and fruit snacks. However, don’t let the bright color or tastes fool you: this additive is linked to hypersensitivity and ADHD among children and adults. 

Rule of thumb: Don’t be misled, stay away from RED. Ensure even your favorite organic snacks are free and clear of this harmful dye.

Hydrogenated oils
Hydrogenated oils are processed oils that are used by manufacturers to extend the shelf life of products. Hydrogenated oils are also responsible for creating trans fat in foods. Trans fat is shown to increase cholesterol levels and increase weight since your body has to work extra hard to digest it. It can also cause brain fog and severe moodiness.  

Rule of thumb: The shorter the expiration date, the better for your weight. (And your happiness!) Opt for products that expire within a week or two. And always choose healthy oils like organic coconut oil or organic extra virgin olive oil.


Aspartame
Aspartame is an ingredient used to sweeten “sugar-free” products on the market. While you might think you’re doing yourself a favor by skipping the sugar, you might want to think twice. Aspartame is a chemical that has been shown to cause headaches, digestive issues and even seizures. 

Rule of thumb: If it says sugar free, it most likely means hazardous chemical concoction. Instead, sweeten foods with 100% raw cane sugar, coconut sugar or raw honey.

FD & C Yellow No. 5
Our bodies aren’t meant to process chemicals, and that certainly applies to this one. Yellow no. 5 is a food dye most commonly found in cookies, soft drinks and even gum. If a product contains high quantities of yellow food dye, it can give food or drinks a yellowish glow. This food dye has been linked to asthma, allergic reactions and mood disorders. 

Rule of thumb: If it contains yellow, say hell NO! Always take caution before eating foods or candies that are extremely colorful, as they’re more likely to contain food dyes.

Monosodium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, is commonly used in packaged foods to enhance flavor and extend shelf life. Many products like chips, soups and frozen meals contain MSG. Consuming even small amounts of this ingredient can lead to light-headedness, nausea, feelings of anxiety and weakness. 

Rule of thumb: If it contains MSG, it’s no good to me! (or my body!) But be careful; the FDA doesn’t require MSG to be listed as an ingredient. Always choose products that are organic or labeled “MSG Free.”

Sugar
Sugar is hidden in almost every processed and packaged food, including chips, sauces, fruit juices, cereals and energy bars. Sugar is often disguised by one of its many names: dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, lactose and sucrose. Eating foods that are high in sugar can contribute to health issues such as diabetes, thyroid issues, depression and weight gain. 

Rule of thumb: When sugar is a main ingredient, opt for a sweet fruit as a supplement. If you really have a fix for something sweet, opt for a healthier version of your favorite treat.


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ADHD, Food Dyes, and Additives

By Stephanie Watson     WebMD Feature Reviewed by Patricia Quinn, MD

You might have read that artificial food colorings can worsen ADHD symptoms such as inattentiveness and hyperactivity. And if you have a child with ADHD, you may have considered cutting out dyes and other additives from their diet.

Before you make any dietary changes, here are a few things you should know about the link between food colorings and ADHD.

What Does the Research Show?

The possible connection between ADHD symptoms and food dyes started with San Francisco pediatrician and allergist Benjamin Feingold. In the early 1970s, Feingold noted that hyperactive kids became calmer when they ate a diet free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Since then, several studies have tried to confirm the link. What they’ve found is that, although dyes don’t cause ADHD, a small percentage of kids with ADHD do seem to be sensitive to the effects of food dyes and other additives.

After looking at 34 different studies, “We concluded that there is a small association of food dyes with ADHD,” says Joel Nigg, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University and author of What Causes ADHD?

In Nigg’s review, about 8% of children showed symptoms related to food dyes, and about 30% responded well to a dye-free diet.

Yet Nigg says there are still some open questions. The studies that have been done so far have mostly included small numbers of children: in some cases, just 10 or 20 kids. Plus, many of the children ate foods that had both dyes and other additives, making it hard to pinpoint the exact cause of their behaviors.

Researchers also aren’t sure exactly how artificial food colorings might impact ADHD symptoms. It could be that these substances affect children’s brains. Or, it’s possible that some kids are hypersensitive: They have a kind of allergic reaction when exposed to dyes and additives, Nigg says. Many of the kids who are sensitive to dyes are also sensitive to other foods, like milk, wheat, and eggs.


Limiting Food Dyes

In 2007 study linked six different food dyes to increased hyperactivity in children. After the study’s release, the European Union started requiring warning labels on foods containing the dyes tested in the study:

  • quinoline yellow (yellow #10)
  • ponceau 4R (not available in the U.S.)
  • allura red (red #40)
  • azorubine (not approved for food in the U.S.)
  • tartrazine (yellow #5)
  • sunset yellow  (yellow #6)

The U.S. didn’t set similar requirements. In 2011, an FDA Food Advisory Committee concluded there isn’t enough evidence to prove food dyes cause hyperactivity in children.

Trying a Dye-Free Diet

Although the link between food dyes and ADHD symptoms is still not clear, some parents say they have seen an improvement after eliminating these and other additives from their children’s diet.

The eating plan Nigg found to have the greatest effect on ADHD symptoms is the one Feingold introduced decades ago, which removes all artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives (including BHA and BHT).

When Nigg looked at studies done on similar diets, “We saw a fairly large effect — about one-third to one-sixth the size of the medication effect,” he says. In other words, cutting out these additives worked one-third to one-sixth as well at curbing ADHD behaviors as taking medications.

Stripping your child’s diet of every processed food might be tough. “One of the challenges is getting kids to like the diet,” Nigg adds.

If you’re considering an elimination diet, he suggests enlisting the help of a nutritionist who understands ADHD. “Don’t try this on your own, because there are too many ways to miss key nutrients,” Nigg says.

Wait a few weeks to see if the diet has any effect. Then you can start adding foods back into your child’s diet, about one a week, to see which one restarts the symptoms. “In most cases, you could narrow it down to three or four things your child can’t eat,” Nigg says.

Colorings are added to many products, from coated candies to cough syrup. “What parents need to do is become label readers. They can start by looking at all the foods in their kitchen and not using the ones that contain any dye that has a number, like red #40 or yellow #5,” says Laura J. Stevens, research associate in Purdue University’s nutrition science department, and author of 12 Effective Ways to Help Your ADD/ADHD Child.

One benefit to avoiding artificial colors is that it can lift the overall health of your child’s diet. “Foods that contain artificial colors, it’s hard to find one that you would say has good nutrition,” Stevens says. Removing these colors should also limit excess sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.


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The Dark Side of Food Colors

Michelle Schoffro Cook    May 10, 2013

The next time you’re at a child’s birthday party, notice the beautiful array of cakes, cookies, and cupcakes, all showcasing a rainbow assortment of artificial colors.  While they may make these sweets look appetizing to children, these synthetic ingredients often take the place of nutrition in foods.  For example, fruit juice that contains colors is typically devoid of any fruit, making it artificially-colored sugar water.  Worse than that, many food colors are linked to hyperactivity disorders and cancer.

Artificial coloring is a serious problem in fast food and fake food.  A recent petition by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, has called for a ban on the use of artificial dyes in food.  The group has targeted its petition at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, seeking the phasing out of eight artificial food dyes linked to serious health risks.  While they have made their case based on the risks to children, I have no doubt these artificial colors are wreaking havoc on adults as well.

Many Guises

While the names of the dyes are meaningless to most people (yellow 5 or tartrazine, which is derived from coal tar, and blue 2 or indigotine, for example), their effects are not.  These toxins are commonly found in concentrated fruit juices, condiments, and some cheeses, to name a few.  An article in the Globe and Mail reported that many popular snacks such as Smarties, Froot Loops, Cheetos, Doritos, and Reeses’ Pieces simply list colors without defining whether they are from a natural or artificial source.



A Carcinogen by Any Other Name

Blue dye number 1 and 2 are linked with cancer in animal tests, while red dye number 3 causes thyroid tumors in rats.  Green dye number 3 is linked to bladder cancer, and yellow dye number 6 is linked to tumors of the kidneys and adrenal glands.  While these colors are readily used in most processed, prepared and packaged foods, what bothers me the most is that they are commonplace in the diets of children.

Most candy, cakes, cupcakes, baked goods, maraschino cherries, fruit cocktail, gelatin desserts, and soft drinks contain these harmful substances, which serve no other purpose than to make so-called food look “pretty” and attract children whose bodies are particularly sensitive to them during the developmental years.

While those in the natural health and nutrition fields are aware of the dangers of these dyes, it appears a 2007 study in The Lancet, a reputable, mainstream medical journal, brought wider attention to this health concern.  Health Canada, the federal government health department in Canada has stated that it has begun to require the lebeling of colors in food using the specific name, but that doesn’t get the toxins out of the food.  Knowing what it is doesn’t make it less dangerous, only avoidable for those who both read the label and know what to look out for.  And, I don’t see too many eight-year-olds reading labels.  Not many adults do either.

The food industry must be accountable for the ingredients they use and strong disincentives are needed to keep dangerous additives and artificial colors out of the food supply, particularly as many are known carcinogens.

source: Care2.com