Additives, Preservatives, and Dyes – Oh My!

October 3, 2014

At this point, you are probably thinking I've lost it!  Or asking why I keep posting about food-related topics, when our focus is on children.  The answer is simple.  Something, or some things are contributing to the increased number of kids with developmental disabilities (CDC reports 1 in 6).  Fifteen years ago the majority of clients I treated had delays, you know, with a little push they were on their way.  The clients I treat nowadays have more neurological involvement, it's become much more complicated to address their needs.  I have found that when you couple traditional therapy with dietary changes and supplements, the progress of the client is much quicker.

Following is a list of the 5 worst (in my opinion) additives, preservatives, and dyes that our children are exposed to on a daily basis. 

Food Dye Dangers

Food Dye Dangers

1.  Food Dyes

Food dyes are an additive used in our foods to add color, enhance color, avoid color loss, and to provide consistency when there may be variations in the colors of the food.  There is no nutritional value or benefit from food dyes or artificial colors.  Dyes are simply added to make our foods look better.    Food dyes used in the US are Blue #1, Blue #2, Red #3, Red #40, Yellow #6, and Yellow Tetrazine.  Every year, more and more research is coming out linking food dyes and coloring to ADHD, their effect on learning in children, and connections to cancer.  Did you know that food dyes and artificial coloring is banned in Europe?

MSG enhances flavor.  Have you ever smelled these?  The smell is horrid!

MSG enhances flavor. Have you ever smelled these? The smell is horrid!

2.  MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

MSG is an additive used in processed and packaged foods to enhance flavor.  It is an excitotoxin which over excites our cells, which can lead to cell damage.   The additive MSG also turns off the "I'm full" function in the brain, which leads to over-indulgence.  You know the slogan, "You can't have just one?"  Well that's MSG!  MSG has been linked to migraines, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, increased heart rate, depression, obesity, and eye damage.  MSG is basically in everything that's unhealthy.  Click here for a list of names of hidden MSG. 

Amount of sugar in drinks

Amount of sugar in drinks

3.  HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)

The additive HFCS is added to baked goods, dairy products, drinks, processed foods,  canned fruits, and many more foods.  We currently consume on average 140 pounds of HFCS each year.  This additive causes inflammation, which in turn contributes to heart disease, cancer, dementia, and liver failure. 

Low calorie doesn't mean it's good for you.

Low calorie doesn't mean it's good for you.

4.  Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners such as Sucralose (Splenda) and Aspartame (Equal/NutraSweet) are found in diet sodas, yogurt, pudding, gum, and several other low calorie foods.  These additives are derived from a process that involves chlorination.  Chlorine is a carcinogen.  Artificial sweeteners are excitotoxins (again affecting the function of the brain).  The use of artificial sweeteners have been associated with brain tumors, birth defects, epilepsy, Parkinson's Disease, Fibromyalgia, diabetes, headaches, dizziness, vision problems, depression, weight gain, and poor equilibrium.  Look at that list!  Click here to read more about the dangers of artificial sweeteners.

Nitrates are found in lunchmeats.

Nitrates are found in lunch meats.

5.  Nitrates/Nitrites

Nitrates and nitrites are naturally occurring in vegetables and in some water (due to the use of fertilizers).  Nitrates are also used as an additive/preservative to meat to preserve color and stop the growth of bacteria.  Nitrates and nitrites are found in hot dogs, lunch meat, and bacon. Studies have found that consumption of high levels of nitrates can result in chromosomal changes, increased risk of cancer, leukemia, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 

The food industry has done an amazing job at using bright colors and cool characters to lure our children to their products.  They have also done an amazing job at getting us (parents) to believe a bowl of Fruit Loops for breakfast is a good choice because its fortified with vitamins and minerals.  What they neglect to tell us is that Fruit loops are loaded with sugar, food dyes, additives, and preservatives.  We give our kids a big bowl of this for breakfast and they are off to a great start!  In actuality, we are stacking the deck against them.  We owe it to our kids to figure out what is causing their health to decline (and yes, I think all kids who have speech and/or motor delays have health issues).

I have a few "rules of thumb" I try to live by:

1.  If you cannot pronounce it, don't eat it (Read the labels).
2.  If it has more than 5 ingredients put it back.
3.  Stay on the perimeter of the store - nothing healthy can be found in the aisles.
4.  If you can't grow it or kill it, you shouldn't eat it!

Hopefully, this will get you thinking about how you feel after you eat these types of foods.  Feingold.org is an excellent resource for families who want to further investigate the effects additives and food dyes can have on children and their development.  For a great website about our food and it's impact on our health, visit food matters.

Thanks for reading!

185 S. Marley Rd. New Lenox, IL 60451