Dyes and Sugar Effects of Behavior with Dr. Melanie Mullenmeister

Dyes and Sugar Effects of Behavior with Dr. Melanie Mullenmeister

May 28, 2018

Chiropractor and mom of three, Dr. Melanie Mullenmeister joins us to discuss diets, especially for kids, and how we can help control behavior issues and give ourselves and our families the best advantage by properly fueling with healthy foods.

What we feed ourselves and our kids is SO important, as it either promotes disease or promotes health.

Melanie believes “we are what we eat”!

New York Times article from the Journal of American Medical Association about obesity trends. The age group who showed the greatest increase in obesity since is ages 2-5. This is alarming because this is the age for great brain and muscle development is occurring, coordination, and learning. These little brains are inflamed (and the brain is a muscle system) so obesity will affect their entire body, not just their tummies.

Behavior (hyperactivity, etc.) correlates with body composition, which can be traced back to food choices.

Red Dye #40 is a toxin to the brain. Of child-oriented products, 43% contain Red Dye #40! They use it often to make it look more appetizing to children. Studies have linked it to all sorts of psychiatric issues, like rage, fits/temper tantrums, explosive, aggressive, erratic behavior, hyperactivity. (For more information, read this NPR Article, this article by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, or check out this website.)

Examples of food with red dye #40: Kraft BBQ sauce, Hamburger Helper, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Duncan Hines Homestyle Vanilla Frosting, Welch’s Frozen Fruit Bars, fruit snacks (of all sorts), Schweppes Ginger Ale, Lipton Iced Tea, many children’s vitamins, traditional children’s Tylenol (you can buy this in dye free form!).

In 2011, the FDA finally acknowledged that food dyes are a problem and links it to erratic behavior but they don’t get rid of it (for more, read this article). You can’t find food dye in England or Australia (they have banned them). Our food industry dumps 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes in our food supply every year, and 40% of that is Red Dye #40 (for more, read this article about the study done by Dr. Daniel Amen).

When you look at the label, there are other names for Red Dye #40: Allura Red AC, FDNC #40, CI16035, and CI Food Red 17.

With every bite of food, you have a biochemical reaction that happens inside the body. Kids haven’t developed the self-awareness yet to link how they feel with what they ate. Education at an early age is very important! Make sure kids understand the consequences of eating foods that contain dyes that make them feel “off.” This helps them make wiser food choices as teenagers and adults.

 Artificial/Imitation Flavorings
Chemicals and preservatives (like MSG) cause problems too. 

Do the best you can to try to eat REAL FOOD. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients of what you are eating, it’s probably not good for you.

Eating healthy foods is a CHOICE. Yes, it takes more time, energy, sometimes money but it is worth it!

As an adult, try to set an example of good choices for your kids.

Don’t say things like “Oh, my kids hate vegetables.” Your children are hearing that! Think of it as a fun adventure and they might get on board!

Take baby steps (eliminate or introduce one thing at a time) and only give them a small amount, challenging them to eat just one bite of the new food.

Blood Sugar Issues
Sugar causes highs and lows in blood sugar, causing mood swings and more sugar cravings.

Sugar burning/sugar consumption becomes a roller coaster. It affects pancreas function, liver function and sets them down the road for developing early-onset diabetes.

Triglyceride levels are directly linked to the sugar you eat. When you eat more sugar than your body can burn, the body converts the sugar to fat and Triglycerides are stored fat from sugar consumption.

Sugar triggers the same area in our brain as cocaine does. It stimulates our dopamine response (or our reward system) so our brains LIKE sugar!

Blood Testing
Lipid panel (measures cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides, glucose or blood sugar)
Fasting blood glucose (blood sugar levels today)
Hemoglobin A1C (blood sugar levels over time) 

Healthy Snacks
Think BALANCE by incorporating the 3 macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat). 


  • Half an apple with peanut butter on top
  • String cheese
  • Veggies (like carrots, cucumbers that are sliced for easy snacking)
  • Healthy brownies (use ground up walnuts, almond flour or coconut flour)
  • Good fats (for lasting fuel) like peanut butter, almond butter and avocados

Use Olive Oil or Coconut Oil instead of vegetable oil, canola oil

  • Be careful not to use super high heat with oils or they will oxidize and cause inflammation. Think “low and slow” meaning low heat and slow cooking.) 
  • When you buy olive oil, look for organic, first-pressed or cold-pressed

Don’t be hard on yourself! Think “do the best you can.” Do NOT be perfectionistic about this… even if you cut down on your family’s sugar consumption by 50%, that’s awesome!

To get in touch with Dr. Melanie, please contact the Chiropractic Center for Healthy Living in Mitchell, SD.


We got this Encouragers!