Worried about global warming and your grandchildren’s future? Would you change your diet to give them a better chance of a life worth living?

An international team of scientists has warned that current dietary trends are a threat to human health and the environment.  

The team has issued a report saying we need a global change in diet and food production to curb malnutrition. 

The report warns that the world’s agriculture sector must institute reforms to address the problem and ensure sustainable farming. 

“In many countries, poor diet now causes more deaths than tobacco smoking and high blood pressure,” said Ashkan Afshin of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Ashkan is the lead author of the report, which was published recently by the Lancet

Current dietary trends are a threat to human health and the environment.
Scientists have issued a report urging a global change in diet and food production to curb malnutrition and save the environment.(Photo: Arek Socha from Pixabay)

Too Much Salt, Too Little Grains, Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds

The paper says today’s Western diet contains too much salt and too little whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds.

Afshin and his colleagues claim they have developed a diet that can improve health while ensuring sustainable food production.

Their “planetary health diet” calls for cutting meat and sugar by half and increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

They suggest a variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and fewer refined grains.  They likewise encourage strictly controlled consumption of highly processed foods and all foods with added sugars.

The diet breaks down the optimal daily intake of whole grains, starchy vegetables, nuts, fruit, dairy, protein, fats and sugars.

“The Planetary Diet”

The team recommends 14 grams of meat protein, 300 grams of vegetables and 250 grams of dairy products each day.  They urge people to eat around 31 grams of added sugars and 50 grams of starchy vegetables.  In 2018, the average American consumed six times that amount of sugar every day… 194 grams!

The scientists say people should limit themselves to 195 grams of seafood, plant, and egg protein.   They encourage a daily consumption of 200 grams of fruit and 232 grams of whole grains.

In all, the team recommends a total calorie intake of 2,500. 

Researchers urge increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Researchers urge increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and nuts and a 50 percent reduction in meat and sugar intake. (Photo: Deborah Breen Whiting from Pixabay)

Global Action for Sustainable Agriculture

Governments will need to act to save the millions who are at risk of dying, says the report. 

The team argues that current dietary trends cause heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as environmental degradation, among others.

The scientists urge better management of agricultural resources to address the issue. 

They likewise encourage diversified food production, wider access to healthy food, and sustainable production practices.

The team says that by producing the right kind of food, the agriculture sector will reduce food waste. 

“The stakes are very high,” said Dr. Richard Horton, editor in chief at the Lancet.

Horton says one billion people throughout the world are starving. Two billion people eat too much of the wrong foods, he adds.

Are you eating enough of the right types food? If you want to know more about the planetary diet, you can do some more reading here