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Artificial Colors—They’re Not Benign, They’re Bad!


In the US there are seven certified FD&C dyes approved for use in foods. These are Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine), Yellow No. 6 (sunset yellow), Red No. 40 (allura red), Blue No. 2 (indigo carmine), and Blue No. 1 (brilliant blue), Green No. 3 (fast green), and Red No. 3 (erythrosine). These color additives are derived from petroleum products [1], with Red No. 40 the most prevalent dye identified in all food categories. [1, 2]

Artificial food colorings/artificial dyes may make a beverage or food source look more appealing to consume, and because aesthetics in foods matter to many people—especially children who are attracted to “pretty foods”—companies like to use them to help sell products. In fact, no less than five studies [3] have shown that companies intentionally market foods using bright colors that appeal to children.

Additionally, the amounts of artificial food colors (AFCs) consumed has risen dramatically. In the 50’s, the amount was 12 mg per person daily. In 2010, that number had risen over five-fold to fold to 62 mg per person daily. [4] With the sharp increase in processed foods, drink mixes, and sports beverages/fuels that contain AFCs, one can only imagine how much greater the amounts consumed are now.

Which leads to the question as to why they’re considered a necessity in foods. Artificial colors/dyes have no nutritional value, they provide no positive effects on athletic performance and overall health, and they’ve been linked to deleterious issues, with much research done with children and behavioral disorders. [5 - 8]

A very recent (12/2022) piece of research [9] has produced a disturbing conclusion: “Chronic exposure of AR [Allura Red—Red No. 40] at a dose found in commonly consumed dietary products exacerbates experimental models of colitis in mice.” General signs of colitis and ulcerative colitis include:

  • Stomach cramps that come and go
  • Constant belly pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mucus or blood in the stool
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Low fever

Dr. Minesh Khatri states that colitis is “is a term used to describe inflammation in your large intestine, or colon. There are many causes, including ulcerative colitis (UC). That’s a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). [10]

In the United States, about 1 million people are affected with ulcerative colitis [11]. The annual incidence is 10.4-12 cases per 100,000 people, and the prevalence rate is 35-100 cases per 100,000 people. Ulcerative colitis is three times more common than Crohn disease.

As to the seriousness of ulcerative colitis, Dr. William Faubion states, “Ulcerative colitis (UL-sur-uh-tiv koe-LIE-tis) is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine, also called the colon, and rectum. In most people, symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly. Ulcerative colitis can be draining and can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications.” [12]

Back to the 12/2022 study, in which the researchers concluded:

Humans are exposed to various chemical substances everyday through diet. Western diets are especially rich in synthetic colorants that enhance the appearance of foods to attract consumers, particularly children. Although several dietary risk factors that are associated with chronic diseases were identified, our knowledge on the role of these dietary components on IBD pathogenesis is still modest. Here, we provide evidence that a widely used synthetic colorant AR [Allura Red—Red No. 40] enhances colitis susceptibility.


Artificial colors and dyes are in so many of the foods and drinks lining supermarket shelves, and they’re ubiquitous in the sports nutrition world. Not Hammer Nutrition fuels, however; they include no artificial colors (sweeteners or preservatives either). Why? Because an ever-growing body of research is showing they are NOT benign substances, but instead contribute to some serious health disorders, including colitis.

Another reason Hammer fuels contain no artificial colors is because these substances provide NO benefits for improving athletic performance. NONE. Sure, that bright red color may be appealing to the eye, but do you really need Red No. 40 to let you know that it’s a fruit punch flavored drink? All Hammer Nutrition fuels contain either no colors at all (HEED), or they contain only healthy, natural colors, such as the beta-carotene in Orange Perpetuem 2.0.

If the combination of athletic performance AND overall health are of importance to you, we urge you to stay away from all artificial ingredients, including artificial colors, and fuel your efforts on the artificial ingredient-free Hammer Nutrition fuels.

[3] Hughner and Maher, 2006; Weber et al., 2006; Song et al., 2014; Stevens et al., 2014; Batada and Jacobson, 2016.


This article is another reason I trust Hammer Products. To bad our FDA doesn’t follow the European Union and other European countries. In European Union Yellow #6 and Red #40 are required to have warning labels stating the health risk although some countries have banned them altogether. Any additives including colors must be authorized before being added to the food in Europe.


Thanks for the information. One of reasons I use Hammer products going on 10 years now is no artificial colors and only natural sweeteners

Kurt Carney

Thank you for this article.
While being interested in what I eat and drink, I have known about the AFC’s, it was rather in… “the back of my mind”. This brings it to front. Something to keep attention to.

Before switching to Hammer’s Endurolytes products, I recall gastrointestinal distress I felt many times when “gulping”, so called “sport drinks”.
Now, I wonder if bright colors of those could have been part of the issue.

Thank you,


Thank you for that informative article. I’ve always suspected that anything labeled “artificial” was not necessarily good but appreciated hearing the facts about artificial colors. Thank you for taking a stand and excluding artificial ingredients in your products. 🏁👊

Ryan ODell

Interesting article. As it maybe difficult or even impossible to remove these dyes from one’s diet, are there any natural foods or supplements that you can eat/take that would bind/cancel to these dyes to basically neutralize them?

Also I am a huge kale fan as it is an inflammation killer/ wipes it out. I am struggling to find any information on how to determine how much anti inflammatory properties it has. I.e. 1 once of raw kale equals what? Or maybe equals 400mg of advil. If the hammer team is interested in hearing more please reach out to me as I have an interesting story how it cured tendinitis and how it helps reduce post workout pains/aches for half marathons and such.
Hammer Nutrition replied:
Hello Nathan, Thank you for your comment and interest in whole foods to arrest inflammation. You may be correct about removing 100% of these things from our diet if we eat in restaurants/prepared foods. However, to reduce artificial ingredients from one’s diet as much as possible, try to eat mostly whole foods, read labels of packaged foods and do not purchase any that contain artificial ingredients. Kale is awesome and I love it, but it’s from the only vegetable with anti-inflammatory properties. Today one can find specifically anti-inflammatory diets, and I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone who is experiencing general or multiple inflammatory conditions seek a diet like this asap. BDF

Nathan Schlossberg

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