Red dye 40 and ADHD

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Awesome Friend
Dec 3, 2017
Anyone else have ADD or ADHD in their family? I do. If you have a child who has it, then either you or your spouse has it as well. I have never been diagnosed with it, but daughter has. Since her dad is no longer with us, we can only guess the reality, that it is probably me who has it.

Brain Health Guide To Red Dye #40
June 14, 2016

Pop quiz! See if you can figure out what the following list of foods has in common:
  • Pillsbury Pie Crust
  • JIF Peanut Butter Bars
  • Fruit Loops Fruit Snacks
  • Lucky Charms
  • Dannon Light ‘n Fit White Chocolate nonfat yogurt
  • Lipton Brisk Iced Tea
  • Kraft Spicy Honey barbecue sauce
  • Hershey’s Lite Syrup (chocolate)
  • Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain cereal bar (mixed berry)
Besides being an unhealthy part of the Standard American Diet, if you guessed that they all contain Red Dye 40, you’d be correct.
Horrifyingly, the food industry dumps 15 million pounds of artificial dyes into our food every year—over 40% of which is Red Dye 40, a petroleum-based substance. Red Dye 40 is the number-one food dye used in the United States, found in most unnaturally red foods. According to a 2010 article by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), consumption of artificial dyes has increased five-fold since 1955.
There are 9 artificial dyes used in our food supply that are certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Even though there are safe and natural alternatives available, artificial food dyes are a cheap way for manufacturers to make processed foods brighter and more appealing when you see it on a shelf in the grocery store. Manufacturers also choose artificial coloring because they provide more uniform colors compared to natural options.
Artificial dyes are also used to help hide the fact that many processed foods don’t contain much (or any) of the nutrients or foods they claim to have. For example, without Red Dye 40, the chocolate instant pudding would actually look green (because there’s VERY little real chocolate in it).
Although Red Dye 40 has been approved by the FDA for use in food products and must be listed as an ingredient on labels, it has been banned at one time or another throughout Australia and most of Europe due to health concerns.


Awesome Friend
Dec 3, 2017
Not all of the foods with Red Dye 40 are red. You will also find it in brown, blue, green, orange, and even white food products, too. Take pickles for example. A combination of artificial dyes, including Red Dye 40, are used to give some pickles a more pronounced yellow-green color.

You can find Red Dye 40 in a wide range of foods and beverages, including:
  • Candy
  • Condiments
  • Snack foods
  • Baked goods
  • Beverages
  • Salad dressings
  • Dairy products
  • Frozen desserts
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Fruit bars
  • Sauces
Food items aren’t the only place you’ll find this artificial coloring. Many personal care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, can be artificially dyed. Even more disconcerting, some prescription medications may be tinted with the stuff.

Multiple studies published in journals such as Pediatrics, The Lancet, and Journal of Pediatrics demonstrate that some children with ADD/ADHD may be adversely affected by artificial food dyes. Other research indicates that artificial coloring and flavors, as well as the preservative sodium benzoate, can make some non-ADD/ADHD kids hyperactive.

Some children who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and are taking medications for the condition make such an improvement after eliminating Red Dye 40 from their diet that they are able to stop taking their prescription drugs.

Many parents who notice increased hyperactivity in their children after a sweet snack mistakenly blame a “sugar rush” for the bad behavior. But often, it’s the artificial food coloring that’s the real culprit.

Additionally, both adults and children have reported an upset stomach, migraines, jitteriness, nervousness, and inability to concentrate after a high intake of Red Dye 40. The CSPI released a report that says artificial food dyes pose a “rainbow of risks,” including everything from allergies to cancer.

Artificial dyes may also trigger “mind-storms,” which are issues with the brain’s wiring or electrical activity. Your brain is the world’s most powerful hybrid electrochemical engine. It uses electricity and neurotransmitters to help you think, feel, and act. Abnormal electrical activity can not only change the activity of the brain, but it can also change your mind and cause mind-storms that can be associated with temper outbursts, depression, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, distractibility, and confusion.


Awesome Friend
Dec 3, 2017
This article comes from the Amen Clinic. Of course they are recruiting us to visit their clinic, but this information is useful, at least to me, and maybe to some of you.

The brain imaging work at Amen Clinics demonstrates that Red Dye 40 can dramatically affect brain function. Consider the case of Robert, a 15-year-old who underwent brain SPECT imaging at Amen Clinics. SPECT is a functional brain imaging tool that measures blood flow and activity in the brain.

His parents noticed that whenever Robert ate or drank something bright red, his behavior became aggressive and hostile. He would easily cry and storm off in a huff or throw things. They brought him to Amen Clinics to confirm their suspicions that he was reacting to these food additives.


As can be seen on this teen’s SPECT scan, his brain showed remarkable overall increased activity with exposure to Red Dye 40. In the images, blue equals average activity, red equals the top 15% of brain activity, and white equals the top 8% of brain activity.

After removing Red Dye 40 from his diet, Robert’s behavior improved dramatically. His mother strongly believes that their experience is not a unique one and that Red Dye 40 should be completely banned from our food supply.

A new field called nutritional psychiatry shows how important food is for mental health, emotional well-being, cognitive function, and behavioral stability. Knowing that you are what you eat, no discussion about changing your diet can miss the importance of eliminating this substance!

To rid this artificial coloring from your family’s diet, you need to learn to scour nutrition labels. Red Dye 40 goes by many names. Look for any of these ingredients on labels:

  • Allura Red
  • Allura Red AC
  • C.I. 16035
  • C.I. Food Red 17
  • FD&C Red No. 40
  • Red 40
  • Red No. 40
Be aware that even though food manufacturers are required to list the dye on nutrition labels, they don’t have to specify how much is included. Your best strategy is to steer clear.

An elimination diet can help you determine if artificial dyes may be contributing to bothersome symptoms. For one month, cut out sugar, gluten, dairy, corn, and soy, as well as artificial colors, additives, and preservatives to see if you feel better. Then add these substances back one at a time and be alert for reactions to them, which would indicate that you should permanently avoid that food.

Children (and adults) with ADD/ADHD, behavioral problems, or other issues may be experiencing sensitivity to artificial dyes like Red Dye 40 in their diet. At Amen Clinics, full evaluations include brain imaging as well as looking into the biological (including nutrition and diet), psychological, social, and spiritual factors that may be contributing to symptoms.

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