A Healthy You: Ways to Sustain the Earth and our Bodies
Cindy Gates RD, LD, CWC, CLT
The government is working on writing new dietary advice and should be available at the end of the year. As you can guess, eat less sugar, salt and meat and eat more veggies. But a new guidelines maybe the role of the environment and sustainability. The government has realized that there is an overlap between what is good for health is also good for the environment.
Water is one of our most precious resources. Every bite of food has a “water footprint” – the amount of total water it takes to produce food from farm to fork. In fact, we are literally drinking our food since about 70% of the world’s water supply goes to growing food.
A diet higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with a less environmental impact that the current average US diet. Eating plants instead of animals can really lower your water footprint. Forty percent of the water consumed in the U.S. goes to animal food production. That’s because you need to grow the plants and then feed those plants to the animals. Animals are thirsty and drink a lot of water over their lives. It takes about 1.600 to 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, 257 gallons for the same amount of soybeans, 146 for corn, and 34 for broccoli. Thus is why plant-based diets have been linked with a much lower water footprint.
We also need to cut down on food waste. In fact, we are wasting about 40% of our food produced in the U.S.. Thus indirectly wasting our water. So pack up those leftovers for your lunch. Remember to put your fruits and veggies in eyesight of the refrigerator (if you put them in the crisper drawer-it is known as the moldy drawer).
Ditch the water bottle. The water bottle is one of the most unsustainable habits you can have. It’s not only the fossil fuel it takes to create the water bottles but also to ship all those heavy cases of water. Plus it takes an estimated 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water because of the production process. So please get a reusable water bottle to use ! Every second, Americans toss 700 plastic bottles away ! Only about 30% of those actually get recycled.
Eat whole, nutrient -rich foods. Every bite of food takes resources to be produced . Fruits and veggies, whole grains provide us with necessary nutrients where junk food doesn’t support human health.
A Healthy You is a regular column about nutrition, healthy living and cancer care. It is written by Cindy Gates, RD and LD and the Cancer Center’s Oncology dietitian, herbalist and Certified Wellness Coach.