Healthy Diet, Healthy Planet: An Excerpt from The Truth About Food

The Truth About Food, a new book by Dr. David Katz, president The True Health Initiative, digs through the lies and the fads about healthy eating and shows that science clearly shows us that a diet based in whole foods and mostly plants is best for both your health and the planet.

The Following is an Excerpt from The Truth About Food: Why Pandas Eat Bamboo and People Get Bamboozled by Dr. David Katz, the president and founder of The True Health Initiative.

As I learn ever more from environmental experts, I find that our debates about diet for human health are apt to become moot very soon. The impact of our prevailing diets on the planet is fast becoming the only thing that really matters. There will be no point in debating diet for human health on a planet no longer hospitable to human habitation-and we are blithely, and blindly, blundering in that very direction… The diet, activity, and lifestyle pattern most conducive to the addition of years to human life, and life to human years, need not have been beneficial to the planet – but it is. A diet of minimally processed, predominantly plant foods redounds to the benefit of everything from the land’s fresh water supplies to the seas’ supplies of fish. When we use lifestyle to take better care of ourselves, we are doing some of the most potent and immediately actionable things there are to be done – to take better care of this gem of a planet, too…

In August 2017, an article ran in The New York Times about the imminent solar eclipse. The author noted that people inevitably trusted scientists to predict the eclipse, yet many of the same people chose to doubt or deny the comparably scientific predictions of climate change. I would add that EXACTLY the same is true of the scientific consensus about diet and health. It is doubted, debated, and disputed NOT because of legitimate uncertainty, but because: (1) the truth about diet, like the truth about climate, is inconvenient, rather than fun like an eclipse; (2) the timeline in both cases is long and continuous, not a single isolated event that is readily confirmed; (3) the truth of climate change and diet is a collection of smaller truths, assembled into statistical whole that is a bit more challenging to interpret than a yes/no phenomenon; (4) there are many agents of the status quo investing heavily in denial to protect their interests (see Chapter 3 ). The whole truth is the child of not just science, but also sense…

The particular emphasis of this book is mostly on the truths that directly address the scourges of chronic disease and premature death in developed countries that have food choices and make bad ones. Calling the book “the truth about food relevant to the burdens of chronic disease and premature death in developed countries that have good choices but routinely make bad ones” seemed rather inelegant. So, “the truth about food” is a proxy for that. But that requires these provisos; the whole truth about food is a global truth, spanning deficiency and excess, choices and choicelessness. Even so, a global commitment to wholesome, whole foods, plants predominantly, in sensible and balanced combination would enhance our capacity to overcome obesity and hunger alike. There are various ways to direct emphasis, but there is one fairly universal truth about food for the entire human family. This book is a whole lot longer than one line even though the fundamental truths all fit there. It’s a whole lot longer because the lies do not, and that too is part of the whole truth.


Author: Josep