Scientists reveal 'ideal diet' for peoples' and planet's health

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In order to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris agreement, the authors say, the world must drastically change the way it eats.

"The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are now getting this seriously wrong", said one of the report's co-authors, Professor Tim Lang of City University of London.

For individual regions, this could mean even more dramatic changes: People in North America, for example, eat nearly 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat, while people in South Asia eat only half the amount suggested by the planetary diet.

'We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before.

The panel has also said that improvements in production practices and large reductions in food loss and waste would be needed to implement the target diets.

An global panel has released the first scientific targets for healthy diets worldwide through sustainable food production that will require Indians to increase their protein consumption and curtail their intake of potatoes.

According to the findings, such a radical plan could avert between 10.8 million and 11.6 million deaths every year across the planet. "More than 800 million people have insufficient food, while many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and disease". "We need to improve the quality of our vegetarian diets". "The dominant diets of the past 50 years are a major contributor to climate change and are no longer nutritionally optimal", the report says.

Business as usual is not an option: Current diets are pushing the Earth beyond its planetary boundaries and resulting in negative population health outcomes, they argued.

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The globally sustainable diet recommended by the commission said that people get most of their daily protein from either plants (dry beans, lentils, soy-based foods and nuts) or dairy products.

What the Have Nots don't have: Somali women wait for food at a camp in Mogadishu. "There is no silver bullet for combating harmful food production practices, but by defining and quantifying a safe operating space for food systems, diets can be identified that will nurture human health and support environmental sustainability".

The study authors recommended policies improving the availability of healthy food from sustainable sources, restricting advertising of unhealthy food, and promoting education campaigns.

"The food group ranges we suggest allow flexibility to accommodate various food types, agricultural systems, cultural traditions, individual dietary preferences - including numerous omnivore, vegetarian and vegan diets", Walter Willet, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard University and the panel's co-lead, said in a media release.

However, the report clarified that it was not trying to dictate choices on what to eat or how to eat.

"To be healthy", he explained, "diets must have an appropriate calorie intake and consist of a variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars".

So do eat wise and eat right - for yourself and the planet.

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