The scientific food report was carried out by AESAN, the Spanish Food Safety and Nutrition Agency of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs headed by Alberto Garzón. In it, nutritional recommendations related to area of sustainability, sinceas Dr. Ujué Fresán put it: “It is no longer enough to recommend healthy diets, but they must also be sustainable.
One of the most striking points of the scientific report concerned the approximate recommendations for intake by food group. Of course, these guidelines are general and in special cases such as food allergies and intolerances they must be adapted:
- 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, of which 3 belong to vegetables and 2-3 to the fruit group. Fruit juices are not a substitute for whole fruit.
- 3 to 6 servings of cereal per daydepending on the level of physical activity. It is advisable to favor foods based on whole or whole grains and to minimize refined flours.
- 4 to 7 servings of legumes per week, as they provide proteins of great nutritional value and slow-digesting carbohydrates. Legumes generate a low environmental impact. It is recommended to give preference to foods of plant origin as the main sources of protein in the diet.
- 3 or more servings of fish per weekfavoring blue fish over white.
- 0-4 eggs per week.
- 0-3 servings of dairy products per day maximum, avoiding added sugars and high in salt. Reduce further if other foods of animal origin are consumed.
- 0-3 servings of meat per week at most by favoring lean meats such as rabbit and poultry. It is recommended to minimize processed meat, as well as beef and lamb due to its great environmental impact.
- 3 or more servings of nuts one week.
- Water as the main drinkwhenever possible from the tap.
Fewer animals, more vegetables
The most interesting novelties included in this report concern the link between nutrition and sport, two key variables in the maintenance of a state of health. Regarding dietary recommendations, the emphasis is on reducing the consumption of foods of animal origin and favor plant-based protein sources. We can see this in the recommendation of “zero” portions of foods such as meat, dairy products or eggs, which implies that they are not essential foods in a daily diet and bet fully on plant-based diets.
This communication strategy related to the reduction of foods of animal origin in the diet has been applied for a long time by the Ministry of Consumption, which has led to some past controversies regarding macro farms and some statements by Minister Alberto Garzón himself. However, even if it bothers some sectors, the truth is that reducing the consumption of meat and foods of animal origin is not only urgent for health reasons, but also for sustainability. And science continues to prove it.
More sustainable food to fight climate change
This has been confirmed by Minister Garzón himself with his statements related to current consumption patterns and climate change. “Summers as extraordinarily hot as the one experienced have a direct relationship with our individual activity and as a society. The recommendation to consume local is important, not only for nutritional reasons but also for social and environmental reasons”.
Isabel Peña-Rey, director of AESAN, also emphasized the high rates of overweight in children that Spain has, almost 40%. “The publication of this report represented an enormous effort, but necessary in terms of public health. Some notable novelties are the inclusion of cooking techniques and physical activity to improve our health. Additionally, the report also emphasizes tackling climate change through our food choices.”
The importance of physical activity for maintaining health
The other scientists who presented the report were Susana Aznar, doctor in physical activity and health sciences, and Esther López, coordinator of the report and professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Each of them offered different recommendations in their respective areas. For the physical activity and sports Guidelines have been introduced according to age group, something quite new beyond diet, as well as other key points:
- Physical activity can be incorporated into both work and daily tasks without being complicated. We need to make being active an easy option.
- Physical activity is good for the heart, body and mind.
- Any movement is better than nothing, the more we do, the better.
- Any physical activity counts: climbing stairs, walking, walking around our neighborhood.
- Muscle building is very necessary to improve body mass, especially in older people.
- Physical inactivity is a great scourge that we must fight. Everyone can benefit from physical activity and reduce sedentary habits.
- The famous “10,000 steps a day” may not be enough: the intensity of the sport practiced counts much more. However, you have to “add steps to life”.
- An increase of 1000 steps per day significantly reduces mortality.
- Every movement counts, move because all this gives us excellent health.