Talk about a win-win!
When there are too many trendy diets to count, how do you decide which lifestyle is best for you? Do you try the super-restrictive ketogenic diet or eat like the people of the Mediterranean region or jump on the Whole30 bandwagon and call it a day? Maybe the answer is none of the above and, instead, hones in on a plan that takes care of your body and the planet we rely on at the same time.
An international team of scientists recently developed a diet that they believe can improve human heart health while only utilizing sustainably-produced food, which, in turn, reduces further environmental damage on Earth. This “planetary health diet,” so to speak, cuts typical red meat and sugar consumption recommendations in half and fills those voids with fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. According to their report, which was published in the Lancet, if we all adhered to this lifestyle, we could prevent up to 11.6 million premature deaths and avoid the further destruction of our planet.
So what does this diet look like exactly? Well, the researchers designed it for all people over the age of 2 with the intention of reducing chronic disease risk (think coronary heart disease and diabetes), as well as our negative impact on our environment. The total calorie intake each day hits the 2,500 mark, which actually allows you to eat more rather than less because of the quality and variety of food sources you prioritize. While red meat and added sugar consumption decreases by more than 50 percent, the amount of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes you are expected to eat increases more than two-fold. Dairy is still on the table in limited quantities, and balance of poultry, eggs, seafood and plant-based protein is encouraged.
The report then included five strategies for this globally-minded dietary shift: incentive people to eat healthier, use varied crop farming methods across the globe, increase agricultural output in a sustainable way, make the rules governing our land and oceans more strict and reduce food waste overall.
Despite the clear benefits of following this kind of diet plan, our world is currently not equipped to offer it to the millions and millions of people it intends to save (along with the environment). Some regions physically cannot support as many resilient crop varieties as others, and there are still plenty of countries that encourage and promote the consumption of unhealthy food. The new recommendations would truly shock our food systems and cultures around the world, and they would require a lot of teamwork and cooperation from organizations, policymakers and citizens to make it work. (And we know tall of an order that can be.)
Luckily, a lot of infrastructure here in the United States makes the planetary health diet a viable option should you choose to try it. And unlike so many fads out there, this one doesn’t focus on deprivation or changing the way your body physically creates energy. It’s simply good for you and good for the environment, and we have a feeling it would make you feel pretty good, too.