What to Eat for Your Health and That of the Planet?

February 6, 2019 , , , ,

According to experts, in order to improve the health of the population and preserve the planet, it is necessary to reduce the consumption of animal-sourced and ultra-processed foods. Here’s how to eat healthy to benefit your own health and that of the planet!

A report has just been published by The Lancet Commission, who grouped together 37 experts in health, agriculture, political science and environmental sustainability from 16 different countries. The report defined common goals based on the best available scientific evidence on healthy eating as well as sustainable food production in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as the objectives of the Paris Agreement, which is to reduce greenhouse gases to limit global warming (under 2 oC and ideally under 1.5 oC). Sustainable eating is defined as an economically and socially sustainable diet that preserves the environment, health and cultural diversity.

According to this report, a healthy diet provides a caloric intake corresponding to the needs of each individual as well as a variety of plant-based foods and a small amount of animal-source foods, processed foods, refined grains and added sugars. In order to adopt a sustainable diet, the world population will have to reduce its consumption of red meat and sugar by around 50% and double its consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. According to the predictions, this should reduce the mortality rate by about 19 to 24% and limit the degradation of the environment.

The healthy diet used as a reference consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and unsaturated oils. It contains a small to moderate amount of fish, seafood and poultry and contains a small amount of red meat, deli meats, added sugars, refined grains (white bread, rice and pasta) and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Applying this framework to future projections of global development indicates that food systems could provide healthy foods to an estimated global population of about 10 billion people by 2050 and remain safely sustainable.

What is flexitarianism?

Flexitarianism, also sometimes referred to as ‘casual vegetarianism’, refers to the dietary practice of people who are primarily vegetarians but who sometimes eat foods from animal sources such as meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. For example, depending on the circumstances, a flexitarian may eat mostly vegetarian meals at home, but be more flexible when eating out at a restaurant, with family or with friends.

What are ultra-processed foods?

Ultra-processed foods contain a long list of unpronounceable ingredients, have been extensively transformed and have undergone a series of treatments. To name a few, these include soft drinks, potato chips, chocolate, candy, ice cream, sweet breakfast cereals, packaged soups, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, fries, etc.

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Kathryn Adel
Kathryn holds a Bachelor Degree in Nutrition as well as a Bachelor and a Master Degree in Kinesiology, all from Laval University. She is a Registered Dietitian and active member of the Ordre professionnel des Diététistes Nutritionnistes du Québec (ODNQ) and of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She holds the Monash University's certification for the FODMAP diet and IBS, and has considerable clinical experience in that area. She is also an accomplished athlete, having ran track and cross-country at a national level. Kathryn specializes in sports nutrition, weight loss, diabetes, as well as heart and gastrointestinal health.

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