Eat for your health and that of Mother Earth

You’re probably familiar with the Mediterranean diet, but have you ever heard of the Planetary Health Diet?

Designed to provide healthy food for the 10 billion people who will inhabit the Earth by 2050 while limiting environmental impact, this diet, discovered in 2019, has since been the subject of a host of scientific studies.

Recent research suggests it can significantly reduce the risk of premature death, as well as reduce environmental impact.

In 2019, an expert commission formed by the British Medical Journal Lancet and the EAT Foundation, recommended adopting a diet that is both healthy and sustainable.

This was supported by extensive research presenting the functions and benefits of the planetary health diet based on “an increase in the consumption of healthy foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts) and a decrease in the consumption of unhealthy foods.” unhealthy. such as red meat, sugar and refined grains) that would provide major health benefits and also increase the likelihood of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The goal of this diet is to address “the need to feed a growing global population with a healthy diet, while also defining sustainable food systems that will minimize damage to our planet.”

The scientific community is now becoming interested in the health and environmental benefits of this specific diet.

A team of researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in the United States, for example, suggests that it can not only reduce the risk of premature death, but also limit the impact of our diets on the planet.

“Climate change has our planet on a path to ecological disaster, and our food system plays a major role.

“Changing the way we eat can help slow the process of climate change.

“And what’s healthier for the planet is also healthier for people,” explained the study’s corresponding author and Harvard professor of epidemiology and nutrition Dr. Walter Willett in a press release.

The study methodology is based on the analysis of health data from over 206,000 men and women from three prospective cohorts: the Nurses’ Health Study I and II, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

Participants’ Planetary Health Diet Index (PHDI) – a type of dietary score – was calculated every four years over a 34-year period, based on their responses to questionnaires about their diet.

The diet itself was divided into 15 food groups (whole grains, vegetables, poultry, etc.).

The participants were all free of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular (heart) disease at the start of the study.

Published in American Journal of Clinical Nutritionthis study suggests that participants whose diets were closer to the planetary health diet had a lower risk of death from all major causes combined.

The researchers even observed that the risk of premature death was 30% lower in the 10% of adults who adhered to the diet the most, compared to those in the lowest 10%.

But that’s not all.

The environmental impact of this diet was also reduced, up to -29% for greenhouse gas emissions, -21% for fertilizer requirements and -51% for agricultural land use for those who followed it best.

“The findings show how connected human and planetary health are.

“Eating healthy enhances environmental sustainability, which, in turn, is essential to the health and well-being of every person on earth,” concludes Prof Willett.

This is not the first time that Harvard’s TH Chan School has studied the benefits of this diet.

A year ago, a team of researchers showed that eating healthy, environmentally friendly foods was associated with a 15% lower risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The benefits are even greater for neurodegenerative and respiratory diseases, with a reduction in the risk of death estimated at 20% and 50%, respectively. – AFP Relaxnews

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