The majority of processed foods do contain food dye, also called artificial food coloring. What might seem harmless and decorative, might raise concerns about health risks. Of course our drinks, candies, and baked goods look bright and lovely, but looks can be deceiving. Children consume it the most and overall consumption has gone but my 500% in the last 50 years.
Oh the things we do for appearance. Food dyes are chemicals that originated in 1856 from coal tar. Only a handful are okay for consumption and the rest are considered toxic. The attraction to artificial food dyes versus natural ones are the bright colors it makes. Manufacturers want to draw our eyes in and make us envision the foods even when we aren’t having them.
- The FDA has approved food dyes as being safe, but controversy still surrounds this approval. These are the currently approved FDA food dyes and what they’re used for:
- Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue): popsicles, icings, ice cream, canned peas, packaged soups.
- Blue No. 2 (Indigo Carmine): ice cream, candy, cereals, snacks.
- Red No. 3 (Erythrosine): cake decorating gels, candy, popsicles.
- Red No. 40 (Allura Red): candy, condiments, sports drinks.
- Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine): chips, cereals, candy, soft drinks, popcorn.
- Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow): sauces, preserved fruits, baked goods.
The most commonly (90% of foods) used dyes are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. One might question when a dye like Green No. 3 is approved by the FDA but not in Europe. However, Quinoline Yellow, Carmoisine and Ponceau are approved in Europe but not the US. Seems risky.
There isn’t a lot of science to back up the claims regarding the harmfulness of artificial dyes, although studies have been done. There can be possible changes in children’s behavior which have been linked to hyperactivity. Some doctors recommend eliminating artificial dyes from children who may have ADHD. Questions have also been raised about the relationship between food dyes and cancer, particularly Blue 2 and Red 3. Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 might be contaminated with cancer causing substances. The best answer is to eat whole foods, not processed. This takes away the risks possibly associated with food dyes. Eat food in its natural color and form. Prepare your own food. It can be scary knowing what is put in our food to preserve it, but the best solution is to shop yourself, cook yourself, and to choose healthy options for your meals and snacks.
Mom always said to drink our milk so we can have strong bones. Our bones are constantly being broken down and then replaced. Osteoporosis is the condition that prevents this bone regeneration from happening in a timely matter, so new bone isn’t built in time to keep up with the removal of old bone. This causes what bone is left in existence to be weak and brittle. Bone loss silently prays on its victims, giving away no clues at first that this problem is occurring in the body.
In severe cases, even coughing can cause a bone to fracture. Falls become highly dangerous with the potential of bone fractures to the hips, spine, and/or wrist.
By about age 20, our bones have developed and grown to their peak. Youth works in one’s favor when it comes to bone health because the body is full speed ahead at making new bone even faster than the old bone is broken down. As we age, this process reverses and we lose bone mass faster than we can rebuild it. The teenage years are a period that bone is built and stored in the reserve. When we age, we make withdrawals from this reserve. The more we have in our storage container, the less likely we are to develop osteoporosis in our older years.
The symptoms aren’t exactly smacking someone in the face. However, some indications that could warrant seeing a doctor include poor posture, loss of height, back pain, and bones that seem to break much easier than they ought to. Besides aging, other risks for osteoporosis include gender, as women are more susceptible, family history, being petite or having a small body frame, as well as being Caucasian or Asian. Certain medical conditions can also increase risk including cancer, lupus, arthritis, IBS (inflammatory bowl disease), and celiac disease. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption have been linked to weak bones. Being sedentary also increases risk. Hormonal imbalances are related to osteoporosis. Menopause has a tremendous impact in women, due to lower levels of estrogen. Men also have a reduction in testosterone levels as they age but not as gaping as women do. Having low calcium levels is a threat to your bone health. Bone density decreases. Eating disorders can escalate this lack of nutrients.
Weight bearing exercises, i.e. resistance training, is a great preventative tool to improve bone health. This will help will better posture and balance. Exercise is medicine. Weight management is key as both being underweight and overweight increase risk. Protein is the building block for bone health, so meeting your body’s dietary needs is important. Adding to this, calcium and vitamin D are crucial. As we age, we need about 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day which can come from dairy, green vegetables, and fish (to name a few sources). Vitamin D helps us absorb this calcium. The sun the best resource for this.
Our body frame is the collection of our bones. Our skeletal system needs good bone health for muscle functioning and movement. We might not be able to go back in time and deposit more bone into the reserve, so moving forward we need to exercise, eat right, and be sure to get a little sunshine. Age doesn’t have to equate to a decline in your height and posture. Stand up tall, embrace the beauty of age and wisdom, and lift a few weights while you are at it.
Dietary fiber is a very important component of nutrition. There are a number of reasons why we need to consume this “roughage”. Fiber is the part of plant type foods that our body does not digest or absorb. The body doesn’t break it down once eaten, rather it passes through our digestive system. It is most commonly found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Generally, processed foods contain low amounts of fiber, explaining the high prevalence of inadequate dietary fiber intake.
There are 2 types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Once the fiber reaches the colon, these types differ in their performances.
- Soluble fiber: Sources include apples, citrus fruits, carrots, peas, oats, barely, and psyllium. This type of fiber dissolves in water looking more like a gel. Its benefits include lowering cholesterol and glucose.
- Insoluble fiber: Sources include whole wheat, green beans, and cauliflower. This type of fiber assists the digestive tract to help food move through the system, making it beneficial for constipation and irregular bowels.
How much do you need per day??
Men: age 50 or younger need 38 grams, age 51 and older need 30 grams
Women: age 50 or younger need 25 grams, age 51 or older need 21 grams
In order to meet these daily needs, the best source of fiber comes from whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and beans are quality options. Supplements can also be an option. Some food does have added fiber like yogurts or granola bars. However, this substitute has been known to cause gas and stomach discomfort. There are also products like Metamucil on the market.
We need fiber for our digestive health, particularly our bowels. Fiber makes our stools easier to pass and decreases constipation. It is able to make the stools larger and bulkier which are easier to exit versus watery stool. It actually helps make the watery stool more solid. Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and inflammation. For diabetics, fiber is critical for blood sugar levels because it can help absorb sugar. Fiber is also important for weight management because these foods help you feel fuller, with the potential to then eat less. Feeling full can help ward off overindulgence. It can also help prevent diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Anything in excess can be bad. Having too much fiber can lead to bloating, gas, and cramping. Too much help from fiber makes the stomach area crowded and backed up. Fiber is another reason to eat your fruits and vegetables. Your gut health is a primary concern considering we eat to live. What goes in must come out, and fiber is that conductor making sure the path is clear for easy exit.
Gout is a form of arthritis that typically effects the big toe area. Warning signs include pain, redness, swelling, and the area feels hot. A gout “attack” can strike swiftly, even waking someone up during the night. The joint becomes extremely tender to even the slightest touch. Although most commonly occurring in the big toe joint, gout can take its toll on any joint it decides. Then moving that joint become difficult. The first 12 hours are the worst feelings of pain reported by sufferers. The attach can last for a few days or for a few weeks.
This condition occurs when urate crystals start to accumulate in the joint. These crystals come from high levels of uric acid in the body. The body has to break down purines that are found both naturally in the body as well as in foods like steak and seafood and alcoholic beverages. A bi product of this breaking down process is uric acid. Typically, uric acid dissolves in the body, passes through the kidneys, and is excreted through urine. However, if the body is on uric acid overload and the kidneys aren’t passing the bi-product through, this uric acid builds up. Soon, sharp crystals start to form in a joint and pain sets in.
It is important to take note of what can cause uric acid to build up in the body. As mentioned, eating too much meat or seafood can cause accumulation. This is true for alcoholic beverage consumption as well in excess, especially beer. Obesity is also a cause due to this body type producing more uric acid for the kidneys to struggle to push through. High blood pressure and diabetes are also uric acid culprits. Gout is genetically related. Men tend to experience gout more than women. However, after menopause, women’s uric acid levels seem to rise.
There are medications to treat gout, especially if one experiences this condition repeatedly. It is important to treat gout at early onset in order to prevent kidney stones. Drinking plenty of water can help the kidneys do their work. A doctor might test the fluid of the affected joint for crytals. An ultrasound can also detect urate crystals. Luckily, there are medications to treat and prevent gout attacks. NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or Aleve that a doctor might prescribe in a higher dose. Corticosteriods, such as prednisone, can come in pill or shot form to help alleviate pain. Colchicine is a pain reliever that specifically reduces gout pain. Xanthine oxidase inhibitors (XOIs) actually block uric acid production. Uricosurics help the kidneys remove uric acid.
Pain anywhere in the body should be addressed. This is certainly the case when any sign of gout arises. Pay attention to what triggers an attack. Your body and kidneys will thank you for taking care of your health. Uric crystals mean the near fortune is not good, so be sure to hydrate, watch your diet, and manage your weight.