A healthy body on a healthy planet: five ways to healthy and ecological food

Stijn Bruers, a doctorate in theoretical physics and ecology, and in the moral philosophy, soon an evening class about how to make your ecological footprint can reduce in your plate. In this opinion a foretaste, in which it becomes clear that something abstract as the ecology and something concrete as your own health not so far apart.

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Our planet is not infinitely large. Everything we need to live a good life, like clean water, agricultural land or nature reserve – is finite. And with what is finite, we have to be careful. The earth has planetary boundaries that we should not exceed if we are on a sustainable way of life. That planetary boundaries are exceeded if, for example, too much consuming, too much greenhouse gases to emit, or a too large ecological footprint.

Our body also has boundaries that we should not exceed if we are on a healthy way of life. That physical limits are exceeded if, for example, too much unhealthy things or eat too high a body weight. Too many calories ingested from alcohol, sugars or saturated fats is damaging to our body, so we have a higher risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.


‘A healthier life is also ecological life (and vice versa)’

We may be some treaties, but too much is too much. As is also to high emissions of greenhouse gases harmful to the earth. The chronic disease called global warming comes with various symptoms such as floods, diseases, droughts, and heat waves. If the earth is too little forests, the abundance of CO2 is not out of the atmosphere and the earth’s surface warmer just as our body, the excess calories can not process if we are to move little, with the known result.

To live a healthier life we have our way of life and diet change. The good news is that many of those health measures also environmental benefits, because they are our ecological footprint decrease. Cycling is healthier and more environmentally friendly than driving a car, vegetables are healthier and more environmentally friendly than meat, cigarettes are unhealthy and also have a high footprint. We have unique win-loaded with fabulous winning opportunities for both our bodies and our planet. Therefore: a top five of food choices with a double win for the environment and health.

Top five

At number five is: how to replace sugared soft drinks by low-calorie soft drinks sweetened with, for example stevia, or by tea or taps)water. Refined sugars, we can best avoid, because they increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. In addition, the production of sugars also has an impact on the environment. Do you Drink a glass of water instead of sugared soft drinks, then drops the CO2 emissions of a hundred grams and your water footprint with sixty litres.

In fourth place comes a measure that is less well known: replacement of refined grain products such as white bread, white rice, and white pasta by whole grain products. That whole wheat products contain more healthy fiber and minerals. In the refining of grain that valuable nutrients are lost, which is a form of food wastage and inefficiency. The environmental impact of refined products is also more than a quarter higher.

At number three is still evident: sweets such as chocolates and cakes replaced by fruit and nuts. By sweets to eat instead of fruit, will lose an average Belgian is more than a year in good health. Opt for an apple instead of a piece of chocolate cake will save almost a hundred grams of CO2 and six hundred litres of water.

Furthermore, there is a high consumption of alcohol is not healthy. We limit alcohol to a maximum of one drink per day, you will win an average Belgian is about an extra healthy year of life due to lower risks of heart disease, liver cirrhosis and accidents. Also the environment is a benefit, because a glass of wine has CO2 emissions of two hundred grams. Strong drink is a few times more harmful for the environment and health.

And then at number one, the biggest win-win measure: animal products are replaced by vegetable alternatives. That shows, among other things, a study last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If we are in 2050, worldwide, fully vegetable (vegan) should eat with lots of vegetables and fruit, then there is, according to that study, fifteen percent less greenhouse gas emissions, and ten percent less premature death.

That was very concretely elaborated in the study: according to the calculations therein shall be in 2050, about ten on the thousands of people dying as thousands of people eat today. In a scenario where everyone can be vegan would eat, we see in the same year, only nine deaths by the thousand. In other words: one in ten causes of death has to do with a too high consumption of animal products and low consumption of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Causes is primarily the main culprits that we hiernet already mentioned: heart disease, cancers and diabetes.

Shift of diet

A good rule of thumb for a balanced diet is red meat, to be replaced by vegetable protein sources such as legumes and soy products, cow’s milk is replaced by a vegetable-based alternative such as further information about lactose intolerance is enriched with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, and chicken meat, eggs and cheese to be replaced by vegetables, nuts and seeds. Well-planned vegetable diets you can live with a few years of life.


Environment and health are two different things? Not at all!

A shift in our diet away from animal products, is the most important measure that an individual can take to have the own ecological footprint reduction, more important than, for example, your car’s put away, your house perfect insulation, switching to green electricity or air travel avoid. By higher health care costs and climate change, there will be a consumption of animal products is also an economic welvaartsverlies are of roughly five percent of global income. A vegan society would therefore be five per cent richer.

Environmental organizations working on sustainable food communicate often about measures such as organic, local and seasonal food and about the environmental impact of products from heated greenhouses or imported products with the aeroplane. But they communicate too little about the high environmental impact of unhealthy products such as sugared soft drinks, refined cereal products, sweets, alcoholic liquor and animal products. Environment and health are two different things? Not at all: environmental organisations and health bodies would net more often, the hands have to beat each other to double profits.

On three October Stijn Bruers on the HoGent Campus Schoonmeersenin Gent a lecture in the framework of the opleidingsreeks health Sciences: sustainable food, organized by Background Educations. Previously, you can also already have evening classes to attend on the digestibility of different cereals by prof. Courtin and sugars in our diet by prof. They.

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