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There are many complicated issues influencing proper food selection. Food choices have been changing rapidly and will continue to change for personal health reasons, but also in the next decades, we will change collectively. Some changes will be voluntarily and others will well be imposed on us by shifting economics, political upheavals, climate changes, population growth, and crop failures. In the 20 years since this book was first written, food supply networks have become increasingly complicated and vulnerable. Dramatic economic events in 2008 included sudden jumps in food prices with hoarding of staples such as rice. Food shortages have been common in third world countries. Climate changes introduce new complications in food production and distribution. I expect that even the more affluent countries will encounter food shortages and price instability in decades to come.
Springmann et al analyzed the possible benefits of world-wide changes in food selection: What we eat greatly influences our personal health and the environment we all share. Recent analyses have highlighted the likely dual health and environmental benefits of reducing the fraction of animal-sourced foods in our diets. Here, we couple for the first time, to our knowledge, a region-specific global health model based on dietary and weight-related risk factors with emissions accounting and economic valuation modules to quantify the linked health and environmental consequences of dietary changes. We find that the impacts of dietary changes toward less meat and more plant-based diets vary greatly among regions. The largest absolute environmental and health benefits result from diet shifts in developing countries whereas Western high-income and middle-income countries gain most in per capita terms. Transitioning toward more plant-based diets that are in line with standard dietary guidelines could reduce global mortality by 6–10% and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 29–70% compared with a reference scenario in 2050. We find that the monetized value of the improvements in health would be comparable with, or exceed, the value of the environmental benefits although the exact valuation method used considerably affects the estimated amounts. Overall, we estimate the economic benefits of improving diets to be 1–31 trillion US dollars, which is equivalent to 0.4–13% of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2050. However, significant changes in the global food system would be necessary for regional diets to match the dietary patterns studied here.(Marco Springmann et al. Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change. PNAS April 12, 2016 vol. 113-5 146-4151)
The entire planet needs to restore local agriculture based on sustainable methods. Cities that are not surrounded by local sources of food and water will be the first to experience supply crises.
If your premise is that foods in common use are good foods, healthy for everyone to eat, you will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you premise is that foods are too dangerous to eat; you will lead an unhappy and malnourished life. A balanced point of view is developed in the Alpha Nutrition Program.
The most reliable policy is that people should eat plant foods that have been in common use for centuries. Vegetables and fruits provide good nutrition and have additional benefits. Non-nutrient chemicals in plants can add unexpected benefits when included in the diet. These non-nutrient substances are now referred to as "phytochemicals" which just means, "plant chemicals".
The fruits and vegetables included in Phase 1 and 2 of the Alpha Nutrition Program are all the award-winning, protective foods. There is a negative group of phytochemicals, however, and this book illustrates some of the potential problems and their solution.
Media reports often focus attention on single issues such as a food additive and can be misleading. For example, a TV report on MSG suggested that this food additive was responsible for a wide range of food problems. Many packaged foods were shown with ingredients such as hydrolysed protein and it was suggested that the problem was that MSG was hidden in these materials. The reported was far from any recognizable biochemical truth. In the first place, MSG is not that bad. It is a scapegoat and a good example of the single-ingredient fallacy. Hydrolysed proteins are potentially hazardous materials for a variety of reasons. Packaged foods have a long list of vices. MSG may be one of the least problematic ingredients. There are problems inherent in even natural, organic foods.
Media reporting tends to produce lasting prejudices against single food items. Often, fanatical groups emerge to fight the MSG demon or the aspartame demon. We believe that innocent food ingredients are often perceived as guilty and guilty food items are often perceived as innocent. There is a persistent perversity in both public and professional opinions about the role of food in causing illness.
Food choices in affluent countries already involve new and unusual combinations of food chemistry that has never been experienced before in the history of life on earth. Thousands of new chemicals have entered the food chain as additives and contaminants. Immune-mediated (allergic) diseases are increasing and create expensive, chronic and debilitating illnesses. Each person interacts with food, home and work environments that determine his or her biological fate. In industrialized countries, the microenvironment of each person is controlled by human constructions and is generally polluted by toxic substances. The extent of this chemical contamination is seldom measured and the effects are poorly understood. As environmental problems multiply, new ill-defined illnesses will increase.
Alpha Education Books explain nutrition and the role of food choices in
causing disease. The most important books are listed below. Click the book title
in the center column to read sample topics. The author is
Stephen J. Gislason MD
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