Natural vs Artificial

May 5, 2011 |

We often see the words like  “all natural”, “100% natural”, natural color”, “natural flavor”, “natural ingredients” and “natural anti-oxidants” as the indications of healthy foods.

Natural vs Synthetic

The opposite is true when we read something like “artificial flavor”, “artificial food coloring”, “synthetic chemical” which we always see in a negative sense as the signs of an unhealthy food. While “natural” is NOT always synonym of “healthy” and synthetic does NOT necessary mean “unhealthy”, this quick guidance is justified and often proven to be useful in our everyday life. In fact, even proteins can be deadly toxic. Snake venom is one of them, for example. Another striking example is aflatoxins that are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are among the most carcinogenic substances known.   On the other hand, modern organic synthesis makes it possible virtually any natural product  to be artificially recreated in a chemical lab. Therefore nowadays cost of production is often the only hindrance on the way to commercial synthesis of a natural product.

Education vs Ignorance

Two major factors that determine whether a food additive is healthy (nutritional) or unhealthy (anti-nutritional or harmful) are:

While the second factor (how much we eat) is mostly under our control, as to the former one (what we eat), for now the food industry decides what kind of a chemical to put into our mouth. Generally more educated than an average consumer, food designers and manufacturers do not hesitate tricking us into buying their non-nutritional but highly profitable products. This is when education in chemistry and/or life sciences has become critical for our efforts to protect our own health and the health of our loved ones. The DyeDiet role is to help you to fill the gap.

Chemical Structure and Health

A molecule is a tiniest possible entity which determines all the chemical and physical properties of a substance.  For this reason:

  • When the properties are such as the molecule does not interfere with the vital bio-chemical processes in human body so that the substance can be used for building of the new cells or prevention cells from a damage or can help facilitating important processes of the cell machinery, the net effect of the substance will be healthy, nutritional, and, hence “good” for your body.
  • When a substance has such a chemical structure that is incompatible with many bio-molecules in human body so that it cannot be utilized in any useful, non-destructive way, there are good chances that the substance will be disruptive to the human bio-chemistry, will produce anti-nutritional, unhealthy effect and hence will be “bad” for your body.

Let us consider a natural and an artificial red food colors. Look, for instance, at the chemical structure of Betanin, the beetroot natural color:

Betanin from beetroot

Not to worry, you do not have to be an expert in organic chemistry to grasp the idea. This delicate molecule is a wise combination of three parts: glucose and two others derived from amino acids tyrosine and perhaps lysine.   This is part of the reason why beetroot color does NOT behave like a disruptive anti-nutrient when consumed by humans or animals. There is a lower likelihood that something that resides in a living cell can be harmful for humans. Moreover, betanin gives you some energy and offers anti-oxidant and anti-cancer “services” for you!

Based on their chemical structures, the artificial food dyes undoubtedly represent the infamous second category: anti-nutrients. Consider Red 40, the leading artificial food dye in the US market. Red 40 and other food dyes are synthesized from petroleum in multi-ton scale as the cheap alternatives to the natural food colors:

Red 40 structural elements

This is a member of the azo compound family of synthetic substances that have no occurrence in the nature. Azo compounds are long known carcinogens and mutagens due to their ability to cause damage to DNA resulting from the inherent chemical properties of the -N=N- fragment. In the body they break down to anilines, naphthylamines and benzidines  (see: Azo compounds metabolism). Neither aniline nor alfa-Naphthylamine or Benzidine are friendly to humans. Nevertheless the US Food Industry and the FDA will keep convincing you that it is safe to eat the artificial food dyes in the amount of up to 2 g every day and hence 730 g a year!

The DyeDiet approach: No foreign food additives

For the fundamental reasons presented above the DyeDiet approach is to popularize the idea that all anti-nutritional food additives (red segments on the DyeDiet Dyegrams) like artificial food dyes must be considered as foreign to the human nature and must be removed from the food no matter whether the link between their consumption and the growing incidence of ADHDallergies and cancers in the US population is proven or not. It is worth to stress the fact that there is also NO proof exists that they do not aggravate these health problems.

The DyeDiet suggestion is not to wait for any decisions from our Government or signals from our body but to start making our own educated healthy food choices today.

Post Scriptum: You can buy natural food coloring and decoration from the places below.

For your home: Seelect; India Tree; Nature’s Flavors;

For your business: DDWilliamson

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Category: Food and Risk

Comments (2)

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  1. Meri Jurs says:

    Hi, I hopped over to your webpage from stumbleupon. This isn’t not something I would regularly read, but I liked your spin on it. Thanks for creating an article worth reading!

  2. Anonymous says: