Why It’s So Important to Eat Healthy

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is more important than ever. The great news is that it isn’t impossible and has grown easier in recent years. In today’s blog, we’ll explore the foundational reasons for great eating strategies and what you can do to ensure your good health is supported by what you consume.

fruit lot on ceramic plate

The Foundations of Why

flat lay photography of variety of fruits

International organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) encourage individuals to shape their diets with plenty of fruits and vegetables, legumes, grains, and, when applicable, a moderate amount of animal products like fish, meat, eggs, and cheese. They also encourage vigilance when it comes to salt and sugar intake. While there has been plenty of coverage about how diets high in fat, sugar, salt, and additives that are typically associated with industrialized food culture, the underpinnings extend far into our collective past.

The modern food landscape in most western countries is littered with processed foods. These have three ingredients in common—fat, sugar, and salt. Given that even agriculture is a recent development in terms of human evolutionary history, the sheer weight of these three would be enough to cause a complete metabolic breakdown. Quite frequently, they do. Diseases such as type two diabetes, cardiac conditions, and instability of kidney and liver function are far more common in modern, western societies than in less industrialized contexts precisely because of our food culture.

fruit salad on gray bowls

In our formative environment, the three aforementioned substances were rare and yet vital for energy production and survival. Our brains relied on the dopamine reward system to ensure that when we found them in the landscape, we consumed as much as we possibly could. That reward system is still in place, but the artificial superabundance of these naturally scarce commodities overloads our biological systems and leads to disease, obesity, and a much lower quality of life.

A Balanced Approach to Food Is Essential

woman wearing white and black Nike sports bra

It’s important to remain vigilant about fillers, sweeteners, and preservatives. We live in industrialized food culture, in which the more available, less expensive food is often far more processed than what is offered to affluent consumers. But why does every human need to craft a balanced approach to the foods they consume? More importantly, beyond the resultant breakdowns of metabolic processes and vital functions, why is it important to do more than sustain out body?

Food can have a powerful impact on psychological, as well as physical, health. That’s not just due to the fact that it stimulates our dopamine reward system. Fillers like soy, cellulose, and other cheap, low-grade substances that simulate fullness or provide an extension for a product’s shelf life, often yield a general feeling of unwellness. Why is this? The answer is in your gut.

woman standing on footbridge

Serotonin, among other important neurotransmitters, is responsible for what we associate with a positive mood. Half is produced by the brain itself. However, the other half is produced in your gut by microorganisms that belong to a highly varied community. When we do not eat properly, it disrupts this microbiome, fostering the proliferation of negative species of bacteria and suppressing the production of serotonin. Highly processed foods have been linked to diseases and a decline of neurological health via the gut-brain axis—a conduit that permits bacteria and neurotransmitters produced in the gut to transit the blood-brain barrier.

What You Can Do

avocado, tomatoes, eggs, mushrooms, spring onions, and leaves

This relatively new understanding about the interconnected nature of our bodily systems casts our dietary choices in a new light. Feed your body, yes. But also, feed your gut if you seek to maintain good health. This extends beyond the main meals you eat to satiate hunger and should embrace the lighter or less bulky snack foods you enjoy. Let’s be honest, the primary reason many people fail at altering their diets is a punitive and rather minimalist approach to new ways of consuming foods.

Eating for pleasure is, it seems, a constant in most complex cultures. Given that, a sudden cessation of the habit won’t meet with success. In addition to crafting a diet that includes WHO’s recommendations and those made by qualified nutritionists, seek out foods that feed and support your intestinal health. Garlic and ginger are fantastic for their ability to suppress negative bacterial proliferation. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, tart yogurt, and related products that haven’t been overly sweetened to make them appealing, kimchi, and true sourdough bread combine to boost your gut’s good bacteria.

strawberry ice cream in clear glass jars

Snack foods such as stone-ground corn—or alternative, less adulterated grain—chips; raw vegetables and fruits cut to facilitate consumption; dips like guacamole produced without fillers, unsweetened peanut and nut butter that have an ingredient list two items long; dried, unsweetened fruits; and 100% grass fed beef jerky or dried meat products from other sources that emphasize a quality diet and less industrialized lifestyle of food animals are all great options. These will curb hunger, provide a pleasurable flavor, and gustatory experience. They’ll also help you train your brain to look for foods that are good for all of you, not just your palate.

three bowls of salad dish with lemon on table

Eating well is more than simply a fad. It’s essential to our survival. Given what we see with the proliferation of allergies, obesity, disease, and general malaise, it’s also our best choice. Luckily, many small businesses and farmers are supporting this new direction. Shopping for good, balanced foods is becoming increasingly accessible to a larger number of people, which helps us to support better eating habits without hardship.

World Soil Day: How cosmetics and fast fashion destroy the soil

World Soil Day is an international event hosted by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO), they aim to “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity” by addressing the cause and alleviate soil biodiversity loss.

Before we get into how cosmetic products harm the environment. We should first understand why our soil is dying.

Soil Degradation

According to the NSW, soil degradation ‘is the decline in soil condition caused by its improper use or poor management, usually for agricultural, industrial or urban purposes’. Soil degradation is certainly a natural regressive evolution process which can be caused by wind or water erosion. However, according to Pimentel et. al.’s study on soil erosion, the damages has increased by 17 times in the USA just because of modern cultivation alone. They added that it would take an investment of 6.4 billion USD to reduce this rate of increase.

The European Environmental Agency has referenced The Tutzing Project of 1998 mentioning that in humid climates, it takes up to 500 years on average for the formation of only 2.5 cm of soil. Therefore at this rate, this important finite source cannot beat the damages in time.

How cosmetics and fast fashion contributes to the damage?

According to the BBC, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textiles waste is created each year, by 2030, it is expected that more than 134 million tonnes of textiles a year will be discarded. Aside from non-environmental friendly packaging and production. When cosmetics and fast fashion items get improperly dumped, it becomes toxic and damages the soil underneath. In addition, the production for these industries also has a high demand of raw materials to be extracted from the soil. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development, fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world.

Aside from the toxic product, synthetic cotton which can slowly cause organ damages in the long-term. The production of synthetic cotton is damaging to the soil. Using these synthetic fertilizers is not the big problem, the problem is the combination of this use and high demands. In these synthetic N-P-K (nitrogenphosphoruspotassium) fertilizers, it harms the water under the soil by producing more and grows algae at a faster rate in which the ecosystem cannot handle. In addition, production of synthetic cotton harms the surrounding land too, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that are sprayed on the crop travels through air to the surrounding area, when pesticides go through the ground, eroding the soil.

Polyester is non-biodegradable, meaning discarded polyester fabrics and clothes will not break down easily in landfills, which could become a hazard to land and soil animals. A research was done specifically studying the effects of polyester fibers on the important soil decomposers food web animals. The results show a negative effect on the animal’s energy reserves, ingestion and a decrease of 30% in reproduction rate. Although the conclusion was that the effect is slight, polyester still creates a long-term effect on these soil invertebrates by disrupting the decomposition process. In addition, when polyester clothing is washed, the fabric sheds and the micro plastics are washed down the drain, ending up in aquatic habitats.

According to the American Chemical Society, traces of Siloxanes are found in soil and aquatic life. Siloxanes are simply a class of liquid silicon that is found in skincare products, hair products and makeup. Environment Canada reported that the chemical compounds of siloxanes are toxic to the environment, found as to bioaccumulate in the environment.

Extraction of Mica is not only a real issue of illicit child labour use but it is also an environmental issue. Natural Mica that are used to make shiny pigments to create makeup products like eyeshadows and highlighters goes through a process of mining. Mining does not only pollute air, but it scars habitats and creates an irreversible soil structure damage. Companies like Lush have now converted to only using Synthetic Mica – Lush Creative Buyer Gabbi Loedolff says “Even though it is synthesised in a lab, it is constructed of natural minerals, so you don’t end up with the problem of microplastics which can end up in the oceans and water supplies.”

Triclosan which are found in hand sanitizers and household products are not only harmful to aquatic life but also damages the soil. This FDA banned chemical has been found to disrupt the nitrogen cycle in soil. This means that the affected soil has fertility damage, causing plants to go yellow and die. When Triclosan reaches to a waterway, it accumulates and reacts with other chemicals to make dioxins which are toxic.

Aquatic pollution is also Soil pollution

As much more research on cosmetics and textile toxic chemicals leads to a greater amount of aquatic pollution results. It is important to note that water and soil are dependent on each other as an ecosystem. Observably, chemicals that leak into waterways come from the soil and polluted toxic water goes back to soil, ending up in our crops, killing vulnerable animals and microorganisms. Hence, becoming another statistic that contributes to the rapid increase of soil degradation.

Make smarter choices to protect our environment!

References:

“Why clothes are so hard to recycle I BBC Future” https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200710-why-clothes-are-so-hard-to-recycle Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

 “World Soil Day | Food and Agriculture Organization of the ….” http://www.fao.org/world-soil-day/en/. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

 “Soil degradation – Environment.Nsw.Gov.Au – NSW Government.” 25 Jul. 2019, https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/land-and-soil/soil-degradation. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

“Why Soil Matters – YouTube.” 3 Nov. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kZXulLobA8. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

 “Environmental and Economic Costs of Soil Erosion and ….” 11 Apr. 2004, http://www.rachel.org/files/document/Environmental_and_Economic_Costs_of_Soil_Erosi.pdf. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

 “3.6. Soil degradation – European Environment Agency.” https://www.eea.europa.eu/ds_resolveuid/KPU6HFDMO1. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

“UN launches drive to highlight environmental cost … – UN News.” 25 Mar. 2019, https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/03/1035161. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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 “Is Too Much Fertilizer a Problem? · Frontiers for Young Minds.” 20 May. 2020, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/486326. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

“Exploring the impacts of plastics in soil – The effects of ….” 15 Jan. 2020, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719344420. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

 “Siloxane D4 (Cyclotetrasiloxane, octamethyl-) – Canada.ca.” 10 Feb. 2012, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/chemical-substances/challenge/batch-2/cyclotetrasiloxane-octamethyl.html. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

“Siloxane D5 (Cyclopentasiloxane, decamethyl-) – Canada.ca.” 10 Feb. 2012, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/chemical-substances/challenge/batch-2/cyclopentasiloxane-decamethyl.html. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

 “FAQ on Lush and mica – Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics UK.” https://uk.lush.com/article/faq-lush-and-mica. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

“Triclosan: its occurrence, fate and effects in the … – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21330702/. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.