Thursday, April 07, 2011

Back away from the Jellybeans!

Those lovely assorted iconic Easter candies may just have to go this year.  At least the traditional ones. 
Although they are on shelves, and nothing in their standard artificial ingredient list has changed, the FDA is beginning to look closer at the questions raised by consumers. 
They are catching up to European questions. 

Although the evidence is still weak, the fact is that artificial food colorings and sodium benzoate in combination appear to increase the hyperactivity of the average 3-8 year old.  The trouble is that activity is subjective.  It can't be scientifically measured. 
And, while we can note observations that are consistently raised after consumption of suspect foods, it's symptoms we witness occasionally when only safe foods are eaten as well. 
The question is whether the colorings themselves are the cause. 
I think the answer is obviously that they are one potential cause.  And with the lack of testing (foodcolorings slipped under the radar and into our food supply, with slowly increasing amounts.  Currently, the average child ingests about 121 milligrams of dye a day.  It's a big number in small increments, but it's more than the amount of magnesium a 3 year old should be ingesting, and about a quarter of the calcium.  Compared to vitamins...that's a lot of synthetic, non-essential junk.  Especially when you factor in the picky eating that is common at that age...and the fact that preschoolers and school age children are still growing and forming.  Anything that is going to affect health will have a greater affect on them just because they are at a more vulnerable stage of development than an adult. 

Hyperactivity isn't the only health concern associated with artificial dyes and preservatives, it's only the one that gets the most press because of Dr. Feingold's work.  Even cancer may be associated with certain colorings, but studies are still in the works. 

Meanwhile, I don't think making bland food look brighter is worth the risk.  So, this year, the Easter Bunny is searching out safer treats...resorting to beets and turmeric and black carrot juice to color Surf Sweet or Yummy Earth candies with, and maybe he'll splurge on Annie's Homegrown gummy bunnies. 
It won't cost a fortune, because kids don't need a lot of sweet.  My kids, anyways, will find plenty of non-edibles in their Easter baskets, and the plastic eggs he hides around the house.  You don't need old fashioned jelly beans to have fun.  And carrot cake can be just as exciting without multicolored springtime sprinkles. 

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