As cities and incomes increase around the world, so does consumption of refined sugars, refined fats, oils and resource- and land-intense agricultural products such as beef. A new study led by University of Minnesota shows how a shift away from this trajectory and toward healthier traditional Mediterranean, pescatarian or vegetarian diets could not only boost human lifespan and quality of life, but also slash greenhouse gas emissions and save habitat for endangered species.
The study synthesized data on environmental costs of food production, diet trends, relationships between diet and health, and population growth. Their integrated analysis painted a striking picture of the human and environmental health costs of our current diet trajectory as well as how strategically modifying food choices could reduce not only incidence of type II diabetes, coronary heart disease and other chronic diseases, but global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and habitat degradation as well.
“We showed that the same dietary changes that can add about a decade to our lives can also prevent massive environmental damage,” said the professor in the University’s College of Biological Sciences. “In particular, if the world were to adopt variations on three common diets, health would be greatly increased at the same time global greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by an amount equal to the current greenhouse gas emissions of al all cars, trucks, plans trains and ships.
In addition, this dietary shift would prevent the destruction of an area of tropical forests and savannas as large as half of the United States.”
The researchers found that, as incomes increased between 1961 and 2009, people consumed more meat protein, empty calories and total calories per person. When these trends were combined with forecasts of population growth and income growth for the coming decades, the study predicted that diets in 2050 would contain fewer servings of fruits and vegetables, but about 60 percent more empty calories and 25 to 50 percent more pork, poultry, beef, dairy and eggs — a suite of changes that would increase of type II diabetes, coronary heart disease and some cancers. Using life-cycle analyses of various food production systems, the study also calculated that, if current trends prevail, these 2050 diets would also lead to an 80 percent increase in global greenhouse gas emissions from food production as well as habitat destruction due to land clearing for agriculture around the world.
The study then compared health impacts of the global omnivorous diet with those reported for traditional Mediterranean, pescatarian and vegetarian diets. Adopting these alternative diets could reduce incidence of type II diabetes by about 25 percent, cancer by about 10 percent and death from heart disease by about 20 percent relative to the omnivore diet.
Additionally, the adoption of these or similar alternative diets would prevent most or all of the increased greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction that would otherwise be caused by both dietary changes and increased global population.
Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec’s comments on “A Diet Change- You Get Healthy and the Planet Gets Saved”:
This study says so much about your health and the planet you inhabit. To make a long story short, if you eat a plant based diet you not only get very healthy, preventing most all disease, you also prevent the destruction of the atmosphere by preventing greenhouse gas emissions from the raising of animals used for food. You also prevent the destruction of forests which are cut down to make space to raise cattle. What was not mentioned in this research was another precious resource that is depleted when you cut down forests to raise cattle, the resource is water.
To date, probably the most reliable and widely-accepted water estimate to produce a pound of beef is the figure of 2,500 gallons/pound. Newsweek once put it another way: “the water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a destroyer.” In this country we are having more and more water shortages so we need to look to our future and the future generations and make the right food choices that not only will make the world a healthier place but also help each one of it inhabitants live a long and disease free life. This can be achieved if globally we would adopt a plant based diet.
In this study the researchers said to switch to any of the three diets:
- Vegetarian- no animal product diet
- Mediterranean- plant based with fish
- Pescatarian- plant based and fish
Where we would differ from the researchers is in their results of health improvement.
“Adopting these alternative diets could reduce incidence of type II diabetes by about 25 percent, cancer by about 10 percent and death from heart disease by about 20 percent relative to the omnivore diet.”
The diet they did not mention is a living/raw vegan diet which only consumes plant products that have not been cooked. This maintains the enzymes and biophotons, the two most vital components of food.
When a living/raw vegan diet is adopted not only do you save the planet but you also save yourself from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease and most other diseases.
An important fact to remember: All animal products including dairy, eggs and fish are high in a signaling molecule called insulin like growth factor 1 or IGF-1. IGF-1 is a growth factor which will cause cancer cells to grow. How do you decrease IGF-1? Cut out all sugars, starches and cut out all extra protein. What is left? Vegetables, fruit (low glycemic index only), seeds, nuts, avocados, olives, olive oil and coconut oil.
By eating a diet with fish you are still increasing IGF-1 which increases cancer risk and rate. The answer is simple. It was stated in the beginning in the book of Genesis:
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. NIV