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Wellness Wednesday: Taste the Rainbow

Earlier this month, Mars, Inc. pledged to remove artificial colors from more than 50 brands over the next five years.

Even though the FDA states that artificial colors are safe for human consumption, Mars, Kraft, General Mills and other food companies are removing them to meet consumer demand. Skittles, m&m’s and other Mars products will still maintain the vibrant color we know and love with natural dyes.

Consumer advocacy groups demand the same quality of ingredients as Mars products in the E.U., which are reformulated without artificial coloring, citing scientific research that links dyes to health problems – from allergies and sensitivities to cancer and hyperactivity.

The cancer connection has been made through animal testing, while allergies, sensitivities and increased hyperactivity are proven with first-hand human experience.

A 2007 study at the University of Southampton linked hyperactivity in children with six dyes that are now known as the “Southampton Six”. Because of the results, these six dyes require warning labels in the E.U., but are still generally recognized as safe by the FDA until further research supports the claim. For now, the FDA maintains parameters on the maximum amount of colors per product, but not per day.

Color additives, just like added sugar, should be consumed in moderation. I advise my clients with no dye sensitivities to monitor their intake of artificial colors because we are, on average, consuming more dyes more often than ever before.

But what does moderation look like in the modern day food market?

It’s obvious that brightly-colored candies, cereal and boxed macaroni and cheese contain artificial colors. But even meats, pickles and fruits are dyed to look fresh and appetizing. And dyes aren’t limited to just food – your vitamins, cough syrup and even toothpaste contain dyes.

Personally, I prefer to taste the rainbow with fruits and vegetables. For me, life without artificial coloring is anything but dull.

This week’s tip: Look for food dyes on the labels of your favorite products. How many dyes do you consume daily? Comment below!

- Lauren Pax is a Senior Instructor at DEFINE: Oakley and is a Certified Health Coach. You may contact her at [email protected]

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