Identifying small changes in diet could help you live healthier, more sustainably—a matter of personal responsibility rather than permission from doctors or the government. As a society, we’ve become more health-conscious—taking reasonable steps to protect our bodies from the ravages of age. We eat more fruits and vegetables, drink less alcohol, and exercises more regularly than we did in generations past. As we strive to live healthier, there are some small steps toward building a better body for ourselves.
A new study analyzed 5800 foods and created a hierarchy based on how they affect our health, as well as the environment. The results revealed that it is possible to create a much healthier lifestyle by simply changing 10% of our daily diet, changing processed meats with a combination of vegetables, nuts, fruits and seafood. This diet would significantly reduce carbon footprint and it would add 48 healthy minutes per day.
In order to determine the impact on human health, researchers adapted the Global Burden of Disease index, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study then took into account the effect food has on the environment with the help of the IMPACT World+ method. Multiple factors were taken into account, including processes such as production and manufacturing and the use of water. The foods were then divided into three different colors: green, yellow, and red, based on how beneficial they are, both for humans and the environment.
“The urgency of dietary changes to improve human health and the environment is clear. Our findings demonstrate that small targeted substitutions offer a feasible and powerful strategy to achieve significant health and environmental benefits without requiring dramatic dietary shifts,” explained Olivier Jolliet, the senior author of the paper.