Apart from making our foods look appetizing, what do colours and additives do to our food? Are they really all that bad for us and should we be avoiding foods with these products in them?
Unfortunately colours and additives are something that you really do want to avoid if you want to create better health for yourself and your family. Since the industrial revolution, more than 4000 chemicals have been added to our food supply and more are added each year. Whilst many manufacturers are seeking to limit the toxic load caused by food additives, most are not tested and have no longevity research. When we choose to eat those foods, we have become human test agents to determine the long term effects of those chemicals in our food.
The colour blue is one of the most toxic chemicals in our foods. It is a petroleum by-product and there is nothing natural or safe about it. Many countries around the world have banned the colour blue from food however in Australia, our Government has not been so careful with our health. In fact, companies such as Nestle send their blue smarties to Australia for our children to consume. We can be active consumers by demanding for example that the blue slushies be removed from your child’s school tuckshop. They may tell you the colour is natural, ask them to read the packaging, if it contains blue food colouring, it is toxic to your health.
If you want to create blue in your food (think a pool birthday cake!), try using the juice from blueberries. You’ll get a great result without filling children with chemicals.
It has long been known that the colour red causes hyperactivity in children. If you are looking for a substitute for red (to make toadstool birthday cake for example), you can use the juice from raspberries or strawberries. The colour yellow can cause hives, eczema, asthma, anaphylaxis and inflammation in your blood vessels. Turmeric is a great colour but test it first if you are making something sweet! Otherwise citrus fruits are great for those autumn tones.
Food additives also impact on our metabolism and are a leading cause of the growing obesity epidemic. They can impact on the leptin signaling in our brains, insulin secretion and can cause over consumption due to the flavour enhancement (this is particularly pertinent to MSG food in most flavoured foods including snack foods such as chips).
It can be difficult to navigate the supermarket isles and make our food choices. The easiest way to do this is to avoid buying processed foods and make those items at home in your own kitchen. You’ll know then that you are feeding yourself and your family foods that are natural and without chemicals. This can be a big habit to change for many people. Start slowly and change one thing at a time. Find a biscuit recipe you love and make those rather than buying a packet of biscuits (there are some great recipes in our healthier lunchbox e-book) and eat more fresh fruit and vegetables instead of packet foods. Removing colours and additives from your diet will make a big change to how you feel.