In the industrial nations, nutrition has long become a controversial issue. The number of people going vegan and vegetarian is growing, mass animal farming is the subject of criticism and the consequences of our diet for the climate are increasingly coming under scrutiny. But beyond this, the question remains: from a purely scientific point of view, what actually makes up a healthy diet? At the kick-off event “People – Climate – Health”, which took place as part of the “LANXESS Week of Safety & Health”, ecotrophologist Anja Jung provided non-ideological suggestions.

The controversial debate on meat consumption

Meat consumption is causing controversy. How do we balance animal welfare and climate protection? On average, Germans eat 60 kilograms of meat per year, which is a moderate amount by comparison. However, one kilogram of beef produces as much CO2 as an 87 kilometers long car journey. The German Nutrition Society recommends 300 to 600 grams of meat per week. That’s about two meals of meat per week. Anja Jung emphasizes: “This is not only good for the environment, but also reduces the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or various types of intestinal cancer.” Despite meat containing important nutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins, it’s all about the right balance. Too much meat has a negative impact on the immune system. It causes aggressive bacteria to multiply in the intestinal microbiome, which in turn can lead to inflammation and even intestinal cancer in the long term. As if that wasn’t enough, a recent US study found that eating red meat has a negative effect on blood clotting and increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

The nutrition pyramid recommended by ecotrophologists advises a diet consisting of three quarters plant-based products, i.e. cereals, potatoes, vegetables and a little fruit. Proteins can be obtained not only from meat, but above all from a plant-based diet, such as from legumes. They are particularly rich in protein and are also climate-friendly. Fiber in whole grain products, fruit and vegetables helps to keep you full, ensures a healthy intestinal flora and lowers blood sugar levels. Following the plant-based base of the pyramid come the animal products: first dairy products and then meat. Oils and fats form the top of the pyramid. The key principle in this case is that less is more.

The never-ending question of water

Sufficient water intake is essential for a good and healthy diet. The thumb rule is 1 milliliter of water per every eaten kilocalorie. Tap water is ideal. In the morning, our body is lacking about one liter of fluid. To avoid a midday slump, drink a glass of water every hour, especially in the morning and throughout the day. This stimulates blood circulation and improves digestion. A permanent fluid deficit leads to long-term health problems. Distribute your intake throughout the day and don’t drink all at once – our intestines only absorb half a liter of fluid per hour.