Dyeing for Color

How important is color to you? Few people, if any would choose to live their lives devoid of color, but what if it came down to a choice between choosing color over your health?  Would you willingly swear off the hues of our world in order to protect yourself from cancer, hormonal imbalances, or perhaps save your child from the struggles of ADHD?

For most, this would be a pretty simple decision in favor of health and wellbeing.

Now, what if I told you that you only had to give up the tints and shades that brighten your foods?

In the past 50 years there has been a five-fold increase in America’s per-capita production of artificial food dyes—a group of petroleum-derived chemicals that have scientifically proven links to numerous health issues.

There are seven man-made dyes that are currently approved by the FDA for use in commercial food manufacturing in the United States.

FD&C Blue #1: Brilliant blue (dye and lake)

FD&C Blue #2: Indigotine (dye and lake)

FD&C Green #3: Fast Green (dye and lake)

FD&C Red # 3: Erythrosine (dye)

FD&C Red #40: Allura Red (dye and lake)

FD&C Yellow #5: Tartrazine (dye and lake)

FD&C Yellow #6: Sunset Yellow (dye and lake)

According to the FDA, these synthetic colorings serve four purposes:

  • To offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions.
  • To correct natural variations in color.
  • To enhance colors naturally occurring colors.
  • To provide color to colorless and ‘fun’ foods.

Artificial food colors are contained in nearly all of the processed ‘junk’ foods one would expect, such as candies, ice cream treats and soft drinks, but are also used to color seemingly more natural items like pickles, yogurt, salad dressings, and is even sprayed some whole fruits! Today, 15 million pounds of these coloring additives find their way into the American diet every year. cones

CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson states, “For a food additive that does not provide any health or safety benefit whatsoever, there should be a very strict standard for safety. Food dyes do not meet that standard.”

The dangers, unfortunately, are clear.

Despite decades of reliable research stating the ill-effects of synthetic dyes by groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), these additives are currently considered by the FDA to be an “important part of practically all processed foods we eat,” simply because foods like margarine wouldn’t be yellow and colas wouldn’t be brown without them.

So, what’s wrong with adding a little color?

Simply put, the risk far outweighs the reward.  Scientific studies on synthetic dyes have failed to provide convincing evidence of safety, while consistently providing convincing evidence of potential harm.

And don’t overlook the role of artificial dyes in the obesity epidemic.  The vivid and unnatural coloring subconsciously draws both children and adults towards unhealthy processed products that are high in calories and low in nutrition.

Could your health be at risk?

America has become of nation used to the perceived convenience of processed foods, many of which are loaded with synthetic colors, flavors and additives. The dependence on synthetic dyes may come with a whole host of medical issues, from allergic reactions and obesity to hyperactivity in children to contamination from known carcinogens.

Allergic Reactions

Many synthetic food dyes contain elements known to cause allergic reactions in certain people.  Reactions are variable and may include asthma symptoms, hives, runny nose, congestion, bruising and even indigestion or vomiting. If you constantly suffer from cold or flu symptoms, you may want to consider eliminating food and drinks that contain artificial colors.


Drastic increases in the use of dyes since 1995 are consistent with the dramatic increase in behavioral problems, such as ADHD and hyperactivity, seen in children over the same time period.  Studies by the CSPI and others show that this is no mere coincidence, though the FDA concluded that a causal link was not established. Nevertheless, the data did suggest that children with known ADHD or other problem behaviors may experience a unique intolerance to food dyes that can worsen their symptoms.


Food dyes provide a vivid and unnatural coloring that subconsciously draws both children and adults towards unhealthy processed products that are high in calories and low in nutrition. In addition to overeating, the toxins contained in artificial food dyes may stay trapped in the body; if they cannot be eliminated, they will get stored in fat cells. The fat cells will close up and it will become difficult for the body to release the excess fat. Toxins can build up over years and travel to the liver, blood, and brain, causing you to not only hold onto fat, but maybe even contribute to disease.


The greatest danger by far is the risk of cancer posed by many of these coloring agents.  According to the CSPI, the top three utilized man-made dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) are contaminated with known carcinogens: substances that cause cancer.

The risk of cancer has been acknowledged by the FDA in the past, most notably by the FDA in 1976 in reference to Red Dye #2, but the agency has taken minimal steps to protect Americans from the carcinogenic effects of other food dyes.

FDA legal limits for cancer-causing contaminants in dyes are outdated (based on dye use in 1990). In addition, the FDA only considers “free contaminants” in its studies, excluding those that are bound up with other molecules. They also do not take children into account, despite the fact that kids are more sensitive to carcinogens and consume more dyes than adults. The FDA legal limits also do not take into account the cumulative cancer risk based on the amount of food dyes we consume over our lifetimes.

An unnecessary risk

Perhaps the worst part about our nation’s dependence on synthetic dyes is that they are entirely unnecessary. Practically every artificial coloring in the United States has some link to ill-health or has been under-tested and overlooked.  They add nothing to our food and are explicitly meant to manipulate the human perception of a food’s appeal.

So, why would food companies risk using synthetic dyes?  Because they are cheaper than using equally effective natural coloring agents such as beets and carrots, and because food manufacturers might have to slightly alter their formulas to adjust for slight differences in flavor.

Why can’t strawberries just be strawberry?  sundae

Many parts of Europe have effectively recognized the risks and banned the use of man-made dyes in foods or required manufacturers to carry warning labels. Often, companies like McDonalds, Mars, Kraft, and PepsiCo will use the synthetic dyes in U.S. products, while utilizing natural alternatives or no coloring in the European market where they are banned.

The McDonalds strawberry sundae, for example, is colored with natural strawberries in England, while the American McDonalds’ use Red #40 to give the same dessert its vivid red hue.

It’s time for America to stop choosing convenience over health and become aware of what goes in our food and bodies. Do you really want to ingest more of these artificial and potentially dangerous dyes when you don’t have to? Make a conscious effort to reduce or eliminate these artificial substances from your diet for good. Read labels and look for natural alternatives. Learn to enjoy foods in their naturally appealing state; with the colors nature intended.


The GOLO Metabolic Fuel Matrix is full of naturally colored foods that contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients that promote health, not destroy it.

A GOLO diet free of unnatural color additives will help you detox your body and have you well on your way to losing weight and a healthy lifestyle.


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