FOOD DYE AS A MIGRAINE TRIGGER
Food Dye, a Migraine Trigger Over 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Migraines are a severe, chronic neurological condition involving painful headache and other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity. The cause of migraines aren’t fully understood but many migraine sufferers identify specific triggers such as allergic reactions, specific odors or bright lights, stress, sleep pattern changes, smoking, menstrual cycle fluctuations and certain foods and food additives. Various studies indicate that anywhere from 20% to 44% of migraines are triggered by specific foods or beverages. Common culprits are MSG (monosodium glutamate) sodium nitrite, aspartame and food dyes such as Yellow and Red food colorings.
What Is Food Dye?
Each year the U.S. produces 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes which land directly into our food to enhance its appearance. Dyes add zero nutritional value but are a cheaper way to obtain that bright, stable color in food making it more aesthetically pleasing. Processed food in particular requires the use of additives and food dyes. Generally speaking, the more highly processed the food, the more food dyes are needed. The FDA has approved seven food dyes for use in the U.S. These include: Yellow #5 (Tartrazine or E102), Yellow #6 (E110 or Sunset Yellow), Blue #1 (E133), Blue #2 (Indigotine or E132), Green #3 (Fast Green or E143), Red #40 (Allura Red AC or E129) and Red # 3 (Erythrosine, E 127).
Where Does Food Dye Lurk?
Food dyes can be found in candies, ice cream, potato chips and some sodas. Yet avoiding junk food does not fully avoid the issue. Dyes can also be found in pickles, American cheese, boxed macaroni and cheese, crackers, jams, lemonade, sports drinks, cereal, cereal bars, and condiments along with self-care products like shampoos, medications, mouthwashes and toothpastes.
Why Be Concerned?
Artificial food dyes are derived from petroleum, the same ingredient used to make motor oil. Many consumers are concerned about health risks from exposure to food dyes, particularly in foods and beverages marketed to children. Food dye allergies and sensitivities are medically documented. This prompted the Code of Federal Regulations to issue a statement in 2013 that dyes such as Yellow #5 must include a warning statement of possible allergic reactions. Several food dyes still used and defended as safe in the U.S. have been banned in Austria, Norway, Sweden and France and contain label warnings in many European countries.
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