Veggie Prescriptions?

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

It’s not exactly a secret that the “standard American diet” (SAD) is not only making us “sad” (increasing our risk for depression and other mental wellness problems), but it is also shortening the lives of many Americans (and non-Americans who have adopted the SAD-pattern of eating internationally).

Diet-related deaths now outnumber deaths from smoking, and about half of deaths from heart disease are directly linked to poor diet.

The pandemic highlighted the problem, with much worse outcomes for people with obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases, and our award-winning documentary (Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – from way back in 2008) highlighted to role of processed food in poor metabolic health. (Watch the 20-min educational cut for free here = https://youtu.be/KBVm3fWPXCY?si=MoHnp4WfjAINb7HP).

The idea of “food as medicine” dates back more than 2,000 years to the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates, and a new study adds to the evidence that a diet full of fruits and vegetables can help improve heart health and overall metabolic health.

Researchers evaluated the impact of “produce prescriptions” – which provide free fruits and vegetables to people with diet related diseases including diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

The study included nearly 4,000 people in 12 states who struggle to afford healthy food. They received vouchers, averaging $63 a month, for up to 10 months, which could be redeemed for produce at retail stores or farmers markets.

Researchers found positive changes in weight, blood pressure and blood sugar among the fruit/veggie participants – comparable to changes you might expect with prescription medications (and without the drug side effects).

Sadly, the program only lasted 10 months – and when it ended and the free produce vouchers went away, so did the health benefits – with participants experiencing increases in weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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