Friday January 24, 2020
Home World To Avoid Cata...

To Avoid Catastrophic Damage, Humans Need To Change Their Diet: Study

We need governments to help accelerate the change by aligning national dietary guidelines with healthy and sustainable requirements

0
//
Food, Meat, damage
This is the "Impossible Burger," made from wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein and other ingredients, shown in Bellevue, Neb., Jan. 11, 2019. A report released Jan. 16, 2019, by a panel of nutrition, agriculture and environmental experts recommends a plant-based diet. VOA

The way humanity produces and eats food must radically change to avoid millions of deaths and “catastrophic” damage to the planet, according to a landmark study published Thursday.

The key to both goals is a dramatic shift in the global diet — roughly half as much sugar and red meat, and twice as many vegetables, fruits and nuts — a consortium of three dozen researchers concluded in The Lancet, a medical journal.

“We are in a catastrophic situation,” co-author Tim Lang, a professor at the University of London and policy lead for the EAT-Lancet Commission that compiled the 50-page study, told AFP.

Currently, nearly a billion people are hungry and another 2 billion are eating too much of the wrong foods, causing epidemics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Food, Meat, Damage
The key to protecting human and planetary health is a dramatic shift in the global diet — roughly half as much sugar and red meat, and twice as many vegetables, fruits and nuts — a consortium of three dozen researchers concluded in The Lancet. VOA

Unhealthy diets account for up to 11 million avoidable premature deaths every year, according to the most recent Global Disease Burden report.

At the same time the global food system is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the biggest driver of biodiversity loss, and the main cause of deadly algae blooms along coasts and inland waterways.

Agriculture — which has transformed nearly half the planet’s land surface — also uses up about 70 percent of the global fresh water supply.

“To have any chance of feeding 10 billion people in 2050 within planetary boundaries” — the limits on Earth’s capacity to absorb human activity — “we must adopt a healthy diet, slash food waste and invest in technologies that reduce environmental impacts,” said co-author Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Impact Research.

“It is doable but it will take nothing less than global agricultural revolution,” he told AFP.

The main culprit

The cornerstone of “the great food transformation” called for in the study is a template human diet of about 2,500 calories per day.

Meat, Food, Damage
Beef products are displayed for sale at a grocery store in McLean, Va. VOA

“We are not saying everyone has to eat in the same way,” Lang said by phone. “But broadly — especially in the rich world — it means a reduction of meat and dairy, and a major increase in plant consumption.”

The diet allows for about 7 grams (.25 ounce) of red meat per day, and up to 14. A typical hamburger patty, by comparison, is 125 to 150 grams.

For most rich nations, and many emerging ones such as China and Brazil, this would represent a drastic five- to tenfold reduction.

Beef is the main culprit. Not only do cattle pass massive quantities of planet-warming methane, huge swaths of carbon-absorbing forests — mostly in Brazil — are cut down every year to make room for them.

“For climate, we know that coal is the low-hanging fruit, the dirtiest of fossil fuels,” said Rockstrom. “On the food side, the equivalent is grain-fed beef.”

It takes at least 5 kilos of grain to produce a kilo of meat.

meat, Damage
The big challenge is making meat that looks, feels and tastes like the real thing. Pixabay

And once that steak or lamb chop hits the plate, about 30 percent will wind up in the garbage bin.

Dairy is also limited to about one cup (250 grams) of whole milk — or its equivalent in cheese or yogurt — per day, and only one or two eggs per week.

At the same time, the diet calls for a more than 100 percent increase in legumes such as peas and lentils, along with vegetables, fruits and nuts.

Grains are considered to be less healthy sources of nutrients.

“We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources,” said Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton. “For the first time in 200,000 years of human history, we are severely out of sync with the planet and nature.”

Pushback

The report drew heavy fire from the livestock and dairy industry, and some experts.

meat
FILE – Professor Mark Post holds the world’s first lab-grown beef burger during a launch event in west London, Aug. 5, 2013. Mosa Meat, a Dutch company that presented the world’s first lab-grown beef burger five years ago, said July 17, 2018, it has received funding to pursue its plans to make and sell artificially grown meat to restaurants from 2021. VOA

“It goes to the extreme to create maximum attention, but we must be more responsible when making serious dietary recommendation,” said Alexander Anton, secretary-general of the European Dairy Association, noting that dairy products are “packed” with nutrients and vitamins.

Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London said the report “reveals the full agenda of nanny-state campaigners.”

Also Read: Eat Less Meat To Meet Climate Targets: Study

“We expected these attacks,” said Lang. “But the same food companies pushing back against these findings realize that they may not have a future if they don’t adapt.

“The question is: Does this come by crisis, or do we start planning for it now?”

Some multinationals responded positively, if cautiously, to the study.

“We need governments to help accelerate the change by aligning national dietary guidelines with healthy and sustainable requirements, and repurposing agricultural subsidies,” the World Business Council for Sustainable Development said in a statement. (VOA)

Next Story

Quality of Food Plays Key Role in Deciding Kids’ Behaviour: Study

Poor gut bacteria may turn your kid into a problem child

0
Kids behviour
Parents, it is time to check the quality of their food as microbiome in the gut plays a key role in deciding kids' behaviour. Pixabay

Parents, according to a latest health news if your kids throw attitude and do not listen to you despite repeated warnings at home, it is time to check the quality of their food as microbiome in the gut plays a key role in deciding kids’ behaviour, a novel study has found.

The study of early school-aged children (in the age group of 5-7) showed a connection between the bacteria in their gut and their behaviour, said researchers, adding that parents play a key role in their kids’ microbiome beyond the food they provide.

“Childhood is a formative period of behavioural and biological development that can be modified, for better or worse, by caregivers and the environments they help determine,” said microbiology and statistics researcher Tom Sharpton Oregon State University.

The gut microbiota features more than 10 trillion microbial cells from about 1,000 different bacterial species.

Kids behviour
The study of early school-aged children (in the age group of 5-7) showed a connection between the bacteria in their gut and their behaviour. Pixabay

The researchers, which included scientists from Stanford University and University of Manitoba, surveyed the gut microbiomes of 40 school-aged children.

The scientists collected stool from the children and parents filled out questionnaires on socioeconomic risk, behavioural dysregulation, caregiver behavior, demography, gut-related history (like antibiotic use) and a week-long diet journal.

They used a technique known as shotgun metagenomics to apply whole-genome sequencing to all of the organisms found in the subjects’ stool.

The technique gives insight into which microbes live in the gut and their functions.

“One of the novel associations we found was between Type VI secretion systems and behaviour,” said Keaton Stagaman of the OSU College of Science.

The findings, published in the journal mBio, are important because microbiome can shed light on which children are heading toward mental health challenges.

“Future studies will hopefully show whether these secretion systems have direct or indirect effects on the gut-brain axis and which organisms carry these systems,” Sharpton said.

Also Read- India Registers an Uptick in Diabetes and Thyroid: Report

The gut-brain axis, the reciprocal communication between the enteric nervous system and mood or behaviour, is a rapidly growing and exciting body of research.

The researchers said that future work should also take a close look at the impacts of diet on the microbiome and behaviour. (IANS)