Why are we drawn to different colored foods? Does red velvet cake have a special taste because it is red or does it just look more luscious? Do green cupcakes on St. Patrick’s day or orange cupcakes on Halloween make that day more festive? Food that has been colored has now become a part of our way of eating. Food Dyes have been classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and now are offered as powders, gels and liquids. The origins of food dyes can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt when their sources were mainly vegetable or mineral and their use was purely cosmetic. However, we use food coloring now as a visual to give the impression of quality by making an item appear richer and appeal to what a consumer might expect. Early pieces of legislation in France both in 1396 and in 1574 made it illegal to add color to both butter and pastries. In 1531 Germany went as far as calling for the death by burning of anyone who used saffron as a coloring agent. As we entered the Industrial Age around 1820 there is documentation of mercury, lead, copper and sulfates being used to color candy, cheese, pickles, lozenges and certain teas. Not only was this misleading the consumer by disguising poor quality but more importantly, it proved to be poisonous and sometimes deadly. This practice continued until the middle of the 19th century when synthetic coloring was by accident discovered while making an anti-malaria drug. This led to a whole range of synthetic colors that proved to be cheaper and more stable than their predecessors. In turn, it opened the door for use in the textile as well as the food industry. By the turn of the 20th century restrictions on the use of color additives had become totally unregulated and were now being used in all of the popular foods throughout Europe and the United States. This became common practice in ketchup, jellies, mustard and even wine. It wasn’t until 1906 that the government passed the Pure Food and Drug Act and the 80 colors in use were reduced to 7 which were considered less harmful. However, laws were loosely enforced and the number crept back up to 16 causing serious illnesses and adverse reactions. Although at present the number of artificial food dyes is under 10, there is also now in use more natural and safe substitutes. Everything from beets to carrots, grapes to paprika even insects are being used to add color. This is the result of the public demand for a greater say in what is being used in our food supply. In the future we can look forward to having a purple cupcake, a piece of green candy, a bowl of orange rice and most importantly red velvet cake without having to think about chemicals.
Moringa is a vegetable popular in Africa and Asia. It grows freely and easily in climates that are extremely hot and dry. Every part of the plant is used. Seeds are crushed and the oil is used for cooking and on the skin as a healing aid. The crushed seeds are used for water purification because they can lower bacterial content. Its roots are used for tea. The leaves contain a high amount of vitamins especially vitamin A which is necessary for eye health. It has one of the highest amounts of protein of any leafy green vegetable. Moringa also contains all of the 9 essential amino acids. The protein in Moringa is easy to digest which makes it non-allergenic.
Most of us are familiar with the word antihistamine and its ability to block the release of histamine from certain cells. Taking an antihistamine can be life-saving to a person who is having a severe reaction to an overproduction of histamines in the body. What exactly are histamines? Do they serve any purpose? Histamines play a role in starting our digestive process, controlling appetite, regulating metabolism and keeping our immune system awake by helping white blood cells fight infections in infected tissues. A certain cell type, mast cell, produces histamine and are numerous in the nose, mouth and blood vessels where they can defend the body against invading pathogens. While a histamine reaction can have a devastating effect on certain people, avoiding certain foods may have a good deal to do with preventing the over production of histamines in the body. However, the list of foods that contain different levels of histamines is quite long. It includes certain alcoholic beverages, seafood, fermented foods, seeds, nuts, teas, coffee, fruits and a whole range of baked goods that are made with yeast. Is it beneficial to cut out high histamine producing foods while so many of them are of high nutritional value? Since it is almost impossible to avoid ingesting histamine producing foods, researchers are exploring whether blocking histamine production is as important as why the body is overproducing it. They are looking into the possibility of how our gut is handling the influx of histamines once they are within the small intestine where most of our digestion takes place. If a person’s digestive tract is not operating correctly certain bacteria can convert histidine, an amino acid found in food, to histamine which is one possibility for overproduction. A second possibility is the lack of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). This particular enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of histamine before it is allowed to enter the bloodstream. Certain teas such as green and black as well as energy drinks and medications have been connected with suppressing this important enzyme. In reality very few people are actually histamine intolerant. Healthy individuals can metabolize histamine without any problem. Check with your doctor and explore carefully the condition of your gut. You can do this by keeping a careful diary of reactions to certain foods and environmental allergens.