With Alabama being the second fattest state in the nation and Montgomery the fattest city in the entire nation, it's clear that a large population of the state and it's capital are not eating healthy foods. And the rest of the country is not far behind.
What exactly is a healthy food though? This question opens thousands of others, topics worthy of debates throughout the health industry. The safest and simplest way to ensure you are eating healthy is to eat real food; food not made in a factory or in a lab. Additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients saturate our food industry and can turn seemingly healthy food choices into false representations of real food.
One of the worst chemical processes being done to our foods is the addition of artificial colors. Foods can be genetically engineered, often to appear healthy, and artificial colors (dyes) are one of the methods.
The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply. In fact, each year over 15 million pounds of over 8 dyes are put into our food supply each year. This has increased dramatically since the 1950's.
So why should we care? First of all, dyes in food serve no other purpose than to make foods more appealing to the eye. And they can be dangerous. Certain dyes such as Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40 and Blue 1 have been shown to cause allergic reactions. And several studies have showed that dyes cause hyperactivity in children, including contributing to Attention Deficit Disorder. Many artificial colors and flavors are derived from coal tar which is a known carcinogen itself.
However, the biggest concern is cancer, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). In 1985 the acting commissioner of the FDA stated that Red 3 “has clearly been shown to induce cancer” and was “of greatest public health concern.” Where is Red 3 used? According to CSPI, about 200,000 pounds of Red 3 are poured into foods like Betty Crocker's Fruit Roll-Ups and ConAgra’s Kid Cuisine frozen meals every year.
According to CSPI, tests using Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 on lab animals "showed signs of causing cancer or suffered from serious flaws. Yellow 5 also caused mutations, an indication of possible carcinogenicity, in six of 11 tests." Other tests have shown these dyes produce brain tumors, chromosomal damage, thyroid tumors, lymphomas, bladder tumors and kidney tumors. They have already been banned in countries such as France, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the European Economic Community (EEC).
Where are these dyes most commonly found? Sadly, almost everywhere you look in a supermarket, you can find these dyes. Candy, baked goods, sausage, gelatin, soda, juice, fruit snacks, breakfast cereal, ice cream, popsicles, yogurt, cheese, chips, crackers, bread, medicine, gum, pet foods, cake mix, and many many more. You have to read the labels to know for sure if your food is containing these dyes. Cutting food dyes out of your diet will help you weed through unhealthy choices at the grocery store while saving you from the potential side effects of these additives. Also avoid anything that says artificial flavors. When a human consumes something that was not meant for consumption, the body will treat it like a foreign enemy and this is one of the reasons these types of additives are so harmful to our bodies.