Flavor : The Nutritional Genius Inside You

November 12, 2018Flavor : The Nutritional Genius Inside You References: CMAJThe Dorrito Effect, Last week you learned that flavor has been hijacked by our food industry to get you to buy more, eat more and get fat. The wonders of flavor have been circumvented for profit, and we are all vulnerable to its manipulation. But let's step back and ask, what was all that flavor put there for? To teach you what you need. Your body has the ability to sense what it needs, and when it gets it you perceive a feeling of satisfaction and desire for more. You identify where that satisfied need came from by its flavor. How can you prove that proposition? Flavor is a chemical language. It is nature's mother tongue of nutrition. Any one Secondary Chemical (plants are stuffed with these: that's why every plant has hundreds, if not thousands of so-called "secondary" chemicals that appear to play no metabolic part in their own life.) means different things to different creatures. To a human, it might be bitter and awful. A deer might find it tasty. A wasp might sense it as the indication that a caterpillar is eating that leaf, and it can lay an egg in that caterpillar. If the wasp can kill the caterpillar, the plant isn't eaten. The web of interactions between plants and the creatures that eat them is beyond imagination in complexity. And the result comes down to one word: flavor, and flavor comes down to emotions and feelings. The chemical messages of plants (food) turns into feelings and preferences, emotions, in animals. How accurate are those feelings? Well, let's go back to 1929 and a pediatrician in Chicago, Clara Davis, who recruited 15 mothers and widows who were so poor they could not feed their children. She would provide their food, provided they allowed the children to make their own choices from whatever they wanted. The study lasted for over 6 years. The list of foods is pretty unusual: water, potatoes, cornmeal, barley, beef, lamb, bone jelly, carrots, turnips, haddock, peaches, apples, fish, orange juice, bananas, brains, milk, and cabbage. They were virtually all malnourished and sickly when they started. Guess what happened! For starters, the child with rickets gulped down cod liver oil (a rich source of Vitamin D) for a month, then never touched it again. All the children tried every food and would vary what they would eat from time to time. But their health improved. They gained weight and they flourished. Flourished. Outside observers noted that they appeared to be better than any other group of growing children. Or, let's go further back to June 10, 1741, when the British warship Centurion landed on an island in the South Pacific with over 200 men having died of a mysterious malady over the prior two months. Their gums were bleeding and old fractures reoccurring and old wounds breaking open (all signs of scurvy). Upon landing, they gorged on purslane, moss, watercress, sorrel (all rich sources of Vitamin C.) The historian recorded "they longed for all vegetation". They had feelings for the food that would cure them. They were described as having "scorbutic nostalgia" and being overcome with "incentive salience". They longed for vegetables. Long before any doctor described citrus foods curing scurvy, the men's feeling were shouting out for relief. Their bodies told them. We humans have language to express ourselves. But the rest of nature has to go on emotions and feelings. Instinct! And nature has worked out the driver's manual through the interactions between plants secondary chemicals and animals feelings. Flavor drives that bus. That's what flavor is about, Nature has crafted the most ingenious method of us detecting and knowing what we need. Our feelings, our instinct, our intuition is all deep within our subconscious minds but it drives our desire for food. Now, that's been hijacked by our food industry. Your flavor monitoring messages are all being manipulated for industrial profit. It's no surprise that reading my local paper about my local high school, I see that the school lunch program has given up trying to meet Federal nutrition guidelines to help deal with obesity. All the kids refused to eat it, leaving campus for local fast food. The kitchen gave in, raised their prices and simply made more pizza. They simply let go of well-intentioned Federal money and let the kids have their artificial flavors. www. What will work for me. This concept is way too important not to master. It appears to be the puppeteer's strings that we have attached to us. Our feelings are so subtle and so easily overpowered by a single shake of "spice" or "natural flavorings", it's no wonder we all are overweight. How to overcome it? Beats me. My conscious brain just can't win when I get to an Indian buffet. Pop Quiz
  1. What is a key symptom of scurvy?                                     Answer: "Scorbutic nostalgia: longing for Vitamin C containing foods.
  2. What is one way to get a kid to guzzle cod liver oil?        Answer; Let him/her get rickets first. (Better program: give them sunshine in the summer and Vitamin D in the winter: minimum of 2000 IU a day and never get rickets.)
  3. Given completely natural foods with no flavorings, children will eat nothing but sugar and hot dogs? T or F                                                                     Answer: False. They will eat a balanced diet and get the nutrition they need provided they have whole foods and don't have a choice of our Fast Food Nation (FFN).
  4. Given access to modern manufactured food, what will you do?       Answer: Get fat and eat too much.
  5. What does "incentive salience" mean?                             Answer: I haven't a clue but I think it's what British food historians used to describe sailors longing for what was most important in food. I would like to hear your interpretation. It's in the book the Dorrito Effect 5 times. "A Frankenstein" state of wanting.