January 27, 2023

Long Term Consumption of Allure Red Food Dye Can Trigger IBD

A study from McMaster University has found that the long term consumption of Allura Red food dye can trigger IBD (inflammatory bowel diseases), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Researcher Waliul Khan, a professor of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and a principle investigators of Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute, used experimental animal models of IBD to conduct the study. The study’s first author is Yan Han (Eric) Kwon.

Long Term Consumption of Allure Red Food Dye Can Trigger IBD

Inflammatory bowel diseases have been increasing over the last ten years, according to the National Institutes of Health. Those diseases are usually attributed to a “Westernized” lifestyle, including high fat foods with little fiber.

The researchers found that continual exposure to Allura Red AC damages gut health and promotes inflammation. The dye apparently disrupts the function of the gut barrier and increases the production of serotonin, a hormone. That increase alters the composition of the gut microbiota, which increases susceptibility to colitis.

Allura Red, which is also known as FD&C Red 40 and Food Red 17, is used to make soft drinks, dairy products, candies, and some cereals. The use of these synthetic dyes has increased in the past several decades, without many studies of the possible effects on human health.

Khan said in a statement, “This study demonstrates significant harmful effects of Allura Red on gut health and identifies gut serotonin as a critical factor mediating these effects. These findings have important implication in the prevention and management of gut inflammation. The literature suggests that the consumption of Allura Red also affects certain allergies, immune disorders and behavioural problems in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

While doctors are understanding more about the role of the immune system and microbiota in IBD development, understanding of environmental factors in these diseases has lagged behind. The study was published in Nature Communications and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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