Environmentally damaging foods are also the worst for your health

60% of the risk factors responsible for all diseases are the result of a poor quality diet. This fact goes hand in hand with the health of the planet. A study published in the journal PNAS shows that foods most harmful to humans are also harmful to their Earth.nbsp; 

Researchers have analyzed 15 foods that are part of the Western daily diet. They have linked the way they are produced (the water being spent, the area involved and the chemicals used, among others) with the results of previous studies on the health impact of those same foods. And it all worked. Fruit, vegetables, potatoes, olive oil, legumes, nuts and cereals are the healthiest foods that also have minimal impact on the planet,

Raising taxes on processed meat, banning the advertising of fatty products and, above all, reducing their availability are indispensable steps to change things

Processed or unprocessed red meat, on the other hand, is a product that would have to be crossed out of the shopping list. Many research has already drawn similar conclusions, but this study "is the most rigorous so far, which collects much more data and analyses the relationship between health and the environment. The more studies are done, the greater the impact on people," says Julio Basulto, nutritionist at the Central University of Catalonia (Vic) and writer.

If western humans continue to eat as they do now, there will be an alarming increase in disease, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, a third of the food produced never reaches the consumer's hands and ends up in the trash, argues Michael Clark, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Oxford. Therefore, the scientist warns of the need to control manufacturing, consumption and cultivation. 

A graph of the health and planet impact of the 15 foods analyzed in the study. Pnas

Fish poses a dilemma. It is a healthy option but has a larger environmental footprint, along with chicken and dairy, than plant-based diets, according to the results of the study. Basulto ensures that a product is beneficial when it prevents the consumer from eating foods that are more harmful to their health. "If the customer takes fish they don't eat red meat, therefore it's good for him and the planet," he adds,

Study managers stress that directing the global diet towards higher consumption of healthier foods  would improve environmental sustainability.

The consumer, innocent or guilty?

If humans continue to eat as they do now, there will be an alarming increase in disease, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions

The ecological transition can begin as long as the consumer starts to eat better and, above all, less. According to Clark, "he's the first one to react. If you order healthy food, restaurants and industry will have to adapt to your new diet. Companies don't offer if we don't buy.

However, Basulto does not believe that full responsibility should be delegated to the consumer. "You can't be required to react when you don't have enough information and it changes every day. It's a fish that bites its tail." It is very difficult to change habits, so it would be necessary to start from education. However, it does not seem like a feasible solution in today's world. "How is it intended to educate when the food industry invests money in de-educate us? What's the point of giving a child a nutrition class if he has access to a vending machine and the social media that sells him all the bad food?" the scientist complains,

Some industrial and governmental measures have proven to be much more efficient, the expert says. Raising taxes on processed meat, banning the advertising of fatty products and, above all, reducing their availability are indispensable initiatives to change things. "What determines consumption most is the price of the product. You have to think about people who don't have a lot of money. If we make good fruit and vegetables more accessible in both availability and cost, the Western diet will change clearly," concludes,

The Food Guide of the Generalitat de Catalunya, available online, proposes the same solutions: to protect the planet and health you have to eat more vegetables, fruit, whole grain fibers and less red meat, sugars, salt and other foods ultra-processed,