To improve our own health and the health of our planet, dietary habits will need to change. Because the composition of an optimal diet changes depending on the combination of location, season, and personalized dietary needs, investigators have built a tool that uses an extensive database of food items, nutrients, and environmental-impacts to develop optimized diets specific to an individual in a given country and month. As described in an article published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, the tool breaks new ground: it can be used to develop personalized, healthful, low-impact diets for people around the world.
The researchers used their method to compare what low-impact diets would look like depending on country (Switzerland vs. Spain), season (August vs. February), sex, the inclusion of dietary supplements, and for different diet types and environmental impacts.
"Managing to consume a diet that meets your specific nutrient needs and reduces disease risk, while also considering the many layers of environmental impacts associated with your food choices can be overwhelming," said lead author Christie Walker, PhD, of the Institute of Environmental Engineering ETH Zurich, in Switzerland. "This tool was developed to guide individuals in building their own personal diets that are both healthy and low impact for climate change and biodiversity, while taking into account the many stages of a food's life cycle."
Journal of Industrial Ecology