New Study Finds that Food Dyes Can Cause Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

New Study Finds that Food Dyes Can Cause Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

New studies seem to be proving that certain food dyes can be linked to inflammatory bowel diseases.

That being said, as it turns out, Allura Red, also known as FD&C Red 40 but also Food Red 17, is quite a common ingredient in all kinds of foods and drinks, including soft drinks, candies and dairy products.

This synthetic dye is used to add both color and texture to the aforementioned products, most often in order to catch the eye of young children, who tend to like bright colors.

While the use of food dyes like Allura Red has increased significantly in the last couple of decades, little research about the effects on our gut health has been done.

Well, a research team from McMaster University in Canada has finally concluded that Allura Red may be a trigger for IBDs (inflammatory bowel diseases,) something that affects millions of people from all over the world.

This theory was verified using test mice in lab conditions.

Some previous studies have argued that genetic factors, dysregulated immune responses and also gut microbiota imbalances are generally responsible for inflammatory bowel diseases, but no notable studies have looked into the impact of environmental factors before.

Waliul Khan, the study’s senior author, stated that “This study proves significant harmful effects of Allura Red on one’s gut health and identifies gut serotonin as a critical factor that mediates all these effects. These findings have important implications in preventing and management of gut inflammation.”

Khan went on to share that “What we’ve found is alarming, as this common food dye is a possible dietary trigger for IBDs. The research is a significant advance in alerting the general public on the potential harm of food dyes we consume daily cause. The literature suggests the consumption of Allura Red affects certain allergies, immune disorders, and behavioral problems in kids as well, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

With that being said, common Western diets that feature a lot of red and processed meats, processed fats, sugar and low fiber, in addition to the large amounts of additives and various food dyes, can all be significant environmental triggers for inflammatory bowel diseases.

All in all, more epidemiological, experimental and clinical studies on the connection between such health issues and these common food dyes are still needed.


Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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