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This Week’s Top Studies: Food Dye, Daily Steps, & the Mediterranean Diet

This Week’s Top Studies: Food Dye, Daily Steps, & the Mediterranean Diet
Jamie Haleva
Community User1 year ago
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We're back with this week's top studies, so you can get the latest from the world of science. This week, we'll be looking at the dangers of food dye, how daily steps can help your heart, and the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for pregnant women.

Food Dye & Gut Health

You may already know that food dyes and artificial colors are not healthy, but did you know they may even be causing chronic illness? A recent study published in Nature Communications analyzed the connection between the food colorant Allura Red AC, also known as FD&C Red 40, and colitis and gut health. Colitis is a chronic disease associated with inflammation in the colon.

Allura Red is a very common artificial colorant used in many processed foods such as candy and soda. The experiment was done on mice and demonstrated that chronic exposure to the colorant, at a dose found in common food products in the Western diet, worsened symptoms of colitis.

The study also found that exposure to Allura Red in early life made the mice more susceptible to developing colitis later on, and that chronic exposure to the chemical induced colitis as well. The food dye causes colitis by elevating serotonin (a neurotransmitter) levels in the colon, impairing the gut barrier function, and causing inflammation.

The study suggests that there is a link between food dyes like Allura Red and chronic intestinal bowel diseases like colitis and that Allura Red can have very harmful effects on gut health.

Daily Steps Help Your Heart

Good news if you've been getting your steps in, a study published in Circulation found a correlation between number of daily steps and heart health. Researchers collected data on over 20,000 adults in the US and 42 other countries over the course of six years.2,3  The results demonstrated that within older adults (60 years or older), taking more steps daily was associated with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

The adults walked 6,000- 9,000 steps a day and were shown to have a much lower chance (40-50% lower) of a cardiovascular episode like a heart attack or stroke taking place compared to the subjects who only walked 2,000 steps a day.

The results of the study suggest that taking more steps per day can aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease events in older adults.

Mediterranean Diet & Pregnancy Outcomes

In a pregnancy study published in JAMA Network Open, researchers studied the effects of following the Mediterranean diet on adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and hypertension, and preterm birth, among others.5

The Mediterranean diet is an anti-inflammatory diet that focuses on plant-based foods and healthy fats. The study measured the results of pregnant women who were adhering to the Mediterranean diet during conception. The diet was linked to a 28% lower risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy, a blood pressure condition that can put pressure on the mother's heart.5

Almost 8,000 women of different races, ethnicities, and ages were studied, and the results showed that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was linked to a 21% lower risk of developing any adverse pregnancy outcomes.4

This association was found to be even stronger amongst older women (over 35).5 The results of the study suggest that the Mediterranean diet helps reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes and according to the researchers, may help promote women's health across the lifespan.5

Take Home Message

This week we learned about the harmful effects of food dye on gut health, the cardiovascular benefits of daily steps, and how the Mediterranean diet can help mitigate adverse pregnancy outcomes. That wraps up the top scientific studies for this week, but remember, there's always more to learn, and we'll be here to write about it.

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1. Kwon, Y.H., Banskota, S., Wang, H. et al. Chronic exposure to synthetic food colorant Allura Red AC promotes susceptibility to experimental colitis via intestinal serotonin in mice. Nat Commun 13, 7617 (2022).

2. Paluch, A. E., Bajpai, S., Ballin, M., Bassett, D. R., Buford, T. W., Carnethon, M. R., Chernofsky, A., Dooley, E. E., Ekelund, U., Evenson, K. R., Galuska, D. A., Jefferis, B. J., Kong, L., Kraus, W. E., Larson, M. G., Lee, I.-M., Matthews, C. E., Jr, R. L. N., Nordström, A., … Fulton, J. E. (2022, December 20). Prospective association of daily steps with cardiovascular disease: A harmonized meta-analysis. Circulation. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from

3. University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Heart health tip for older adults in 2023: Step it up a bit: Ongoing research shows significant cardiovascular benefits at 6,000 daily walking steps at any pace.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 December 2022. <>.

4. Makarem N, Chau K, Miller EC, et al. Association of a Mediterranean Diet Pattern With Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes Among US Women. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(12):e2248165. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.48165

5. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “Mediterranean diet linked to lower preeclampsia risk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 December 2022. <>.

6. Mediterranean diet. Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Retrieved December 29, 2022, from


Jamie Haleva
Community User
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A Rutgers University Honors graduate, Jamie grew up on the Jersey shore and double majored in Comparative Literature and Anthropology in college. Jamie is an experienced writer in the health and wellness, biotech, and eCommerce fields. She loves writing with a purpose and has even written for the Department of Justice.

Jamie became drawn to exercise during her time in university and began to notice the physical and mental benefits of moving your body daily. Today, Jamie enjoys Pilates, light weight training, and going on long walks in nature daily.

Jamie is also passionate about eating right and prioritizing gut health and immunity. She is always trying the next innovation in health and wellness. When she’s not writing articles, Jamie enjoys reading, playing guitar, and finding dogs to play with.