what you will find inside the July issue...
The Monthly Report on the Current Stories in Healthcare
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Executive Producer: Rayah Hammad
Welcome to the July Issue
Welcome to this month's issue of the new online magazine of The Power of the Patient Project: The National Library of Patient Rights and Advocacy. We appreciate all of the positive feedback we have received on all of our issues this year, and hope that you enjoy the stories our editorial team of outstanding healthcare journalists have written for this issue. We welcome your comments and suggestions. We hope that you will enjoy the content of this month's magazine and come back every month to see what is new and relevant to today's patient.
Eating Healthy: How We Can Reduce Our Weight, and Our Carbon Footprint
by Mason La Fleur
There are thousands of articles on how to lose weight by eating healthy. Cutting carbs, reducing sugar, exercising more often, eating fewer calories, and so on. Along with those articles are usually healthy recipes and instructional workout videos, and more often than not, it includes a paid promotion of a healthy product or service. However, there are ways to not only eat healthier foods for the purpose of improving your physical health but also to reduce your personal carbon footprint.
What is a carbon footprint, and why should I care about it?
A carbon footprint can be defined as the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds one person, household, or organization emits due to the consumption of fossil fuels. Recently, there has been a big push from government agencies, corporations, and local businesses to reduce their carbon footprints, in order to reduce emissions and slow climate change. This means that if one person wants to reduce their carbon footprint, they can do things like use public transportation, consume more renewable energy, fly less, and yes, potentially change their diet.
How can a change in diet reduce my carbon footprint?
Most healthy diets consist of fruits and vegetables, starches, and some protein, usually in the form of meat. While this may lead to a healthier lifestyle, it is important to note that there are ways to eat that can also reduce personal carbon footprint. For example, beef emits the highest amount of carbon by far, compared to any other food. According to Fair Planet, an organization committed to spreading awareness on eco-friendly diet changes, beef produces around 60 kg of greenhouse gas emissions, which is nearly triple the next highest food, which is lamb. Other foods that produce high carbon emissions are cheese, dark chocolate, coffee, pig meat, poultry, eggs, rice, almonds, and milk.
How do these foods produce so many greenhouse gasses?
You may have noticed that throughout the list of foods that I provided earlier, most of those foods tend to be meat. The main reason behind this is that raising animals takes an incredible amount of energy and space. Cows, chickens, pigs, lamb, and other farm animals need space to roam, graze, eat and play before they’re sent off to the butcher. In order to create the space for these animals to do so, farmers will resort to clearing or burning forests and other environments that help trap carbon, which results in those gasses being released into the atmosphere. In addition, foods like rice, coffee, and almonds require a large amount of water and land to grow these foods, and farmers have yet to find an efficient way to grow them. Rice, for example, is grown in flooded fields, which releases methane gasses, increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Is there a sustainable way to eat?
Yes! There are in fact plenty of ways to live a healthy lifestyle and produce less personal carbon emissions. One method that has become very popular recently is to cut out beef and dairy from your diet. Many of these high-carbon foods that I’ve listed fall under the beef and dairy category, so cutting these foods out would be a huge step in the right direction. Another way to cut carbon from your diet would be to buy food that is grown locally, so farmers don’t have to ship their foods across long distances.
If you are like many others and concerned about your personal impact on climate change, one way to reduce your personal carbon footprint is to change your diet. There are plenty of recipes and cookbooks online on how to eat healthy while not killing the planet. While this will not single-handedly solve the climate crisis, it’s a great personal step towards committing yourself to be a greener person and maybe influencing others to do so as well.
Mason La Fleur is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Health Communications. He serves as the Event Coordinator of the GVSU Health Communication Club, is a member of GVSU Students for Choice, and the GVSU Beekeeping club. Upon graduation, he plans to pursue a Master's in Health Administration with the career goal of working in a healthcare facility. In his free time, Mason enjoys reading, working out, spending time with friends, and watching movies.
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