Eat Healthy and Sustainable Diets to Save the Earth

Eat Healthy and Sustainable Diets to Save the Earth

A shift from the consumption of unhealthy food to more intakes of healthy diets could increase life-expectancy and mitigate negative climate impact. The importance of food for healthy living is undisputed. Humanity has survived through adverse periods in its history by creating, cultivating, and developing nutritional products that have helped to improve its mental and physical conditions. These improvements lead to increase in population, migration of people to different areas in the world and consequently expansion of facilities including land, water, chemicals, and machineries, used for food production. The world population has grown steadily in the past 50 years resulting in enormous increase in food production, which is having negative impacts on the earth’s environment in this geological period of human history, termed anthropocene.

A team of researchers from diverse institutions named the EAT-Lancet Commission proposes methods of sustainable food systems that could be implemented to provide 10 billion people with healthy diets by 2050. These methods are integrated into a common framework, which could be adapted globally in each country as the safe operating space for food systems that integrate healthy diets with environmental sustainability.

In connection with the environment the convectional food production contributes to climate change through increase in global temperature, biodiversity loss, freshwater use, and chemical pollution. In relation to humanity, unhealthy diets reduce life expectancy and cause morbidity more than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug, and tobacco combined.

The EAT-Lancet Commission evaluated nutritional values of a variety of food products to create healthy reference diets for daily consumption that have positive impact on both the environment and humanity by reducing environmentally hazardous emissions and total mortality. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and unsaturated oils are the core components of the healthy reference diets that also include moderate amount of seafood and poultry as well as low amount of red meat, processed meat, added sugar, refined grains and starchy vegetables.

In order to successfully implement sustainable food systems globally, all stakeholders including individual consumers, policy makers, manufacturers, and everyone involved in the food supply chain must work together to achieve the common goal of providing sustainable healthy diets for all.

The collaborative synergy of all stakeholders is necessary to collect scientific evidence and create a range of guiding policies to enable a Great Food Transformation.

The Commission has analyzed the following 5 strategies that promise successful food transformation: (1). Promote awareness of the benefits of healthy and sustainable diets through education and cooperation between diverse teams in the health and environment sectors; the aim is to shift from consumption of animal source foods to consumption of plants-based foods.

(2). Produce more variety of nutritious foods in a biodiversity system instead of producing high quantity of few crops that are mostly used as animal feeds.

(3). Apply innovative agricultural processes to enhance biodiversity, produce high quality nutritious foods, mitigate use of fertilizer and water, and drastically reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides as well as soil contamination with phosphorous compounds.

(4). Global management of land and oceans through appropriate government policies that stipulate zero-expansion of new agricultural land into natural ecosystems and species-rich forests, and restoring degraded land. The policies should also prevent negative impact on ecosystem through fisheries.

(5). Healthy food production process should be optimized through technology to reduce food lost by 50% for the global food system to stay within its safe operating space.

The disastrous results of climate change due to the negative impact of unhealthy food production system could be prevented or mitigated by shifting to the production and consumption of healthy and sustainable foods. The EAT-Lancet Commission, a team of international researchers, proposes a framework with healthy reference diets and boundaries, which is universally adaptable and capable of feeding 10 billion people with healthy diets by 2050.

Summary by afritopic® 2019

Link to original publication: https://www.thelancet.com/commissions/EAT

Healthy, sustainable foods, reference diets, climate change, feeding 10 billion people, reduce food lost

Afritopic

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