Artificial Food Color + ADHD

Living Dye Free

By: Bella Sakai

Most of us love bright and colorful things, especially when it comes to food. Unfortunately, artificial food coloring (AFC) changes more than just the color of the food. AFC has been positively correlated to hyperactivity in children. The most common symptoms of food dye intolerance in children are the same symptoms recognized in people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Because of this, prescription medications (that also commonly contain artificial dyes) are being prescribed to children with food dye intolerance to treat symptoms that could be fixed through simple diet changes. The ADHD epidemic in the United States has led to the surprising statistic proving 7.5% of children aged 6 – 17 years are taking prescription medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties. This is equivalent to approximately 4,510,000 children. Not only has AFC been linked to behavioral changes in children but it can also affect adults causing fatigue and restlessness. Scientific studies involving animals have linked these food dyes to organ damage, cancer, and birth defects.

You may be wondering what exactly are in these dyes that make up the products on the market. Artificial food dyes are a set of chemicals used to enhance the appearance of processed foods. AFC was originally manufactured from coal tar however, this did not sit well with consumers so most synthetic food dyes today come from petroleum or crude oil (which is also used to make motor gasoline and fuel oils for heating and electricity). Because of the harmful effects that come from AFC, many countries (such as Austria, Finland and Norway) have banned the use of them all together. In the U.K., the color in a McDonalds strawberry comes from real fruit and in the United States, food coloring is incorporated to enhance the bright colors. So, why do we use these dyes in our food if they have no nutritional value? According to the Food and Drug Administration, color additives are used for many reasons including, to offset color loss due to exposure to light, temperature and storage conditions, to enhance colors that occur naturally, and to provide color to colorless foods and make them more “fun”. Another main reason is because the cost of natural food coloring such as turmeric, beets, matcha, and blueberries are far more expensive than dye.

            In the United States, 90% of food dyes that are used and consumed are Red 40 and Yellow 5. Red 40 is commonly used in candy, baked goods, soft drinks and many other products. The main health concerns that are related to Red 40 are hyperactivity, lymphomas, and chromosomal damage. Yellow 5 is another commonly used dye in the U.S. Products that may contain Yellow 5 are processed cheeses, pasta, banana peppers and pickles. The reported concerns surrounding this dye are aggression, violent behavior, insomnia, and other behavioral affects. Yellow 6 has shown similar results also including eczema. Red 3 is a dye mostly found in sausage and meat products. The FDA tried to ban Red 3 due to the neurochemical, chromosomal, and thyroid concerns, however their attempt failed.

While the effects of AFC may be startling, it’s never too late to implement small changes into your daily routine. The first way to live a more dye-free lifestyle is to recognize the common places where artificial food dyes can be found. Food is a familiar place to look for AFC however, AFC is also an ingredient commonly found in household items, medications, pet food, and cosmetic products.

Below you will find a list of commonly used products that contain AFC:


Breakfast cereals


Fruit snacks


Salad dressing


Ice cream

Nacho cheese

Pasta sauce

Jams and jellies


Pet Food


Fruit juice

Sports drinks



Flavoring syrup

Powdered drink mix


Pain relievers

Cough syrup

Prescription drugs

Fluoride treatment

Allergy medications








Hair dye

Shampoo & conditioner



Body wash

Make up  

Another easy way to reduce contact with AFC is to read labels and ingredients before purchasing new items for your home. Cooking with natural food dye is an option for maintaining a colorful dish without the harmful effects of AFC. It’s important to remember that naturally colored food may not be as bright or concentrated in color as processed foods and if food is naturally colored, the taste may be different than what you are used to. Making your own homemade food coloring may integrate beets, carrot juice, turmeric, liquid chlorophyll, purple sweet potatoes, cocoa powder and other natural ingredients. Researching companies and grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, and local farmers’ markets that provide a variety of organic products will make shopping for dye and additive free products more accessible.

Lastly, if you’re worried about whether the dye is affecting you or your child, implementing the Feingold diet may be an insightful regimen. This diet was developed by Dr. Ben F. Feingold who did extensive research on the link between food additives and behavior. The Feingold diet temporarily eliminates foods containing certain food additives (in this case, food coloring) and reintroducing the product if no positive results occur. Starting with a specific dye in mind may make this transition easier. For example, eliminating Red 40 contact and consumption for two-weeks rather than removing food dye from your diet altogether. This will also help you recognize the specific effects of each dye.

Going cold turkey could be challenging when so much of our products contain AFC, and we all know sometimes it’s just too hard to resist the bright pink doughnut with rainbow sprinkles. Living dye free can help you discover any intolerance or allergy that you may not have known you had and implementing small changes to our diet can uncover pathways to optimal overall health.




Arnold, L. E., Lofthouse, N., & Hurt, E. (2012). Artificial food colors and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms: conclusions to dye for. Neurotherapeutics: the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics9(3), 599-609.


Eating with your eyes: The Chemistry of Food


What is the Feingold program? The Feingold Association of the United States


Food Doesn’t’ Have to Wear Make Up


Potera C. (2010). The artificial food dye blues. Environmental health perspectives118(10).


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2010). Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives and Colors.


yin yoga


Perhaps you’ve heard of Vinyasa Yoga, a Yang (masculine energy) style of practice that heats the body, stretches the muscles and connects your pose to your breath. Vinyasa yoga is a powerful practice that seeks balance with a Yin Yoga class (feminine energy).

In a Yin practice we slow down - poses are held between 2-5 minutes, we learn to slow and lengthen our breath, we learn to keep the mental chatter at a minimum. This practice incorporates longer held positions in order to open up the connective tissues in our body to allow for greater flexibility. In order to hold yoga poses for longer periods of time, we use props to support our poses to ease our body into a comfortable position. Once this shape is found, we learn to soften and find our breath to seek a meditative mindset.

You may be thinking, ‘this sounds a lot like your Restorative Yoga class…’ and yes, they are similar but still very different. Restorative Yoga is allowing your body and mind to surrender and deepen into the comfort of restful, easeful poses. In Yin, we work to surrender and deepen our understanding of our thoughts and our mental space because the poses in a Yin practice can be somewhat uncomfortable if new to you. Mentally, if all you focus on is the discomfort or fact that you ‘cannot do this’ or you ‘are not flexible enough’ the mind will not be in support of a restful body. There are always modifications for every body and every experience level is welcome. Examples of Yin poses would be supported forward folds, supported backbends, hip openers and shoulder mobility exercises. 

This is a beautiful practice for anyone with an over stimulated mind, stress, tightness in the body and an overall feeling of being worn out. A regular gentle Yin practice will open up your body to simply feel better. This practice will quiet your mind to feel true presence and at peace within your body. 

Yin Yoga is an effective practice that you will be guided and supported from Kaleigh, our 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher. For her, regular Yin Yoga has made her realize how important it is to slow down her yoga practice to learn how to ‘just be’ in life and on the mat. Her hamstrings, hips, neck and shoulders always feel amazing after a class and her mind more open and receptive to the world outside the door. 


Our classes are small~ 3 people is our maximum.  Our space is warm and inviting.  We allow space to find your postures and relax with adequate attention detail.  Our space is calm, colorful, dimly lit, and enhanced with aromatherapy that compliments the practice.

Join Kaleigh and mke MindBody Wellness for this new weekly class on Tuesday’s 5:30-6:30pm, $15.  Any inquiries, please message Kaleigh at



Calcium is a mineral in our body that keeps our bones and teeth strong. Although calcium is vital for our bones, we also need it for proper nerve, muscle and cardiovascular functioning. We store calcium in our bones and if we do not get proper amounts of this mineral from our diet our body will take it from the bones. Over time, this can be detrimental to your health and cause weakened bones, arthritis and osteoporosis. 

In Western society we are bombarded with advertising from the dairy industry stating that we need milk, cheese and yogurt for a healthy diet and strong bones. Yes, dairy is a great source of calcium - but there are many other calcium rich foods to nourish our bodies. Dark leafy greens, bok choy, broccoli, fortified cereals and non-dairy milk, salmon (with edible bones) and sardines, to name a few. If you prefer dairy, buy brands that are hormone-free, organic and local if possible.

Supplements are always an option for optimal health. However, calcium supplements can cause constipation and should be balanced with proper magnesium consumption. We also need proper levels of Vitamin D in our body in order to absorb calcium. Sources of Vitamin D come spending time in the sunshine, ingesting cod liver oil, eating tuna, eggs and mushrooms. Talk to your doctor or wellness practitioner about more supplement options or dietary changes that are best for you.

Other things to consider when questioning if you’re getting enough calcium is intake of coffee, alcohol and whether or not you are getting enough exercise. Drinking caffeine can decrease absorption of calcium, whereas alcohol can suppress bone-building cells leading to weaker bones over time. Exercise is great for boosting mood and detoxifying the body, but also plays a role in keeping our bones strong and free from injury.