Nutritional Psychiatry Boosts Fresh Products – Produce Blue Book
A new trend: nutritional psychiatry. Because, guess what? Your diet affects your mood and mental health, we learn from Bon Appétit magazine.
“The brain connects to the gut through the vagus nerve,” notes writer Lisa Ruland.
“This ‘wandering nerve’ acts like a two-way highway, constantly sending signals and chemicals back and forth between the brain and the gut. One of these chemicals is serotonin, our natural mood regulator. We produce over 90% of our body’s serotonin outside the brain, in the gut, precisely where our food is digested and broken down into vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. This allows for a natural symbiosis between food and the body’s brain chemistry.
Once again, fresh fruits and vegetables are heroes in this struggle. “Add lots of colorful veggies, legumes and leafy greens,” advises Ruland. “You might already know the old saying, ‘Eat the rainbow. Replace unnecessary inflammatory or nutritionally neutral foods with dark chocolate, peppers, citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, lentils, asparagus, broccoli, berries, you get the idea.
While Ruland doesn’t mention it, there is one more benefit to eating a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables – you’ll likely feel better about yourself. Even when you’re depressed, you can say, “At least I’m eating healthy.”
As I noted in a previous column, Americans have been sold heavily on the benefits of fruits and vegetables: all things considered, there are few industries that have as much support as there are products. Yet the consumption of fruits and vegetables is flat and continually challenged by fast food and processed foods.
My colleague Pamela Riemenschneider delivered a fiery critique of the ‘plant-based’ trend, which she says is not a friend of the fruit and vegetable industry. “The last thing the fruit and vegetable industry needs. . . is a fruit and vegetable porridge extruded in the form of nuggets, ”she said in TPR’s“ Week in Review ”on June 4.
Food innovations in the United States seem to start off as healthy foods and deteriorate into junk food. The cornflakes promoted by Dr. Kellogg in the 19th century became Count Chocula (and granola can contain even more fat and sugar than the latter). Yogurt has in many cases been made into a kind of frozen custard.
Even the fruit and vegetable industry has not escaped this trend. I have never eaten Cotton Candy grapes; I am sure they are delicious. But their very name reveals the pressures junk food puts on products.
Why? The usual answer is that Americans are lazy and forgiving of themselves. I believe the truth is almost exactly the opposite. Americans are hard workers: a source says we work 1,757 hours a year, more than virtually any other country in the developed world, and far more than the average 1,354 hours in Germany, which is hardly a lazy country.
Americans eat fast food, I believe, in part because we work so hard and have such busy and demanding schedules. I am living proof.
During the year of the outbreak, I lost 10 pounds, because I didn’t rush to the office and so on, buying fast food along the way. I ate at home. I haven’t made any other changes to my diet or my lifestyle. I actually stopped going to the gym (my wife was worried about the contagion).
Like the rest of American businesses, the fruit and vegetable industry is eyeing the country’s slow return to normalcy, wondering how many pandemic trends will continue in the long term. Hopefully one of them will eat more of what is good for us.