Eat Your Way to Longevity: How Our Diet Radically Connects Us to Our Environment
By Skye Ayla Mallac
The world over we’re becoming readily aware of the impact our environment has on our health – as well as the impact we have on environmental health. Read that again. It’s interconnected.
I grew up in the 1990’s and 2000’s. For as long as I can remember there has been an endless barrage of idealised diets shifting through popular culture. There was vegetarianism, and then veganism. There was the banting diet, the raw-food diet, the paleo diet, and more.
While there have been various reasons behind each of these – everything from weightloss to animal rights activism to be honest – the position we find ourselves in now, considering all this accumulation of information, amounts to a simple fact:
That our diet, and gut health, has a massive role to play in our physical longevity, as well as our relationship to the environment. Think about it like this: physical health meets mental health meets environmental health.
We’d all like to live a long and healthy life, right? We’d also like to do our best to preserve, maintain and restore ecosystems on our planet. One of these ecosystems is actually… you.
“Our capacity to even exist in this environment is directly related to bacteria,” explains Peter Daniel of Soaring Free Superfoods in a talk on gut-health at our Eden Festival of Action 2021. The more we strip our food of the natural bacteria that colonises our environment, the more harm we’re doing to our bodies. “There should be 100 billion good bacteria living in a square millimeter of the lining of your gut,” he adds.
Studies of the microbiome, which have come to light over the last few years, proves that a healthy colony of bacteria in our bodies is imperative to our physical and mental functionality. That’s why ferments such as kombucha, kimchi, kefir and tempeh have become so popular. It’s also why eating local and fresh is so important. Organisations such as VegFund, who advocate for plant-based diet choices globally, support organisations to do the same. With this in mind – catered our entire Eden Festival of Action for three years running almost entirely plant-based. With locally sourced, fresh foods being a big focus.
So what foods support you – and also the environment at large? You might have heard of the Blue Zone Diet – a concept developed by Dan Buettner through a study commissioned by National Geographic, identifying the 5 zones around the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives. The results across the board highlighted that those living in those Blue Zones are primarily plant-based (95%), with a general avoidance of refined sugars, meat, dairy, and over-processed foods.
And today the world is actually enabling us to move towards this. Never has this information, research, and the foods themselves been so accessible. Almost every supermarket, online store and grocer stocks plant-based alternatives these days.
In support of our Eden Festival we partnered up with some of our favourite brands that are bringing this healthy mix of power foods to those wanting to support a healthy food journey. ButtaNutt has launched wholesome protein-heavy nut milks alongside their lauded nut butters, and Pesto Princess offers a range of healthy convenience foods from soups to dips. Legumes and pulses, which can be purchased in bulk through AGT foods, form the bulk of the protein intake from a Blue Zone Diet, while for your whole grains and nutrient rich baking needs, Eureka Mills stone ground flour is here for your baking needs.
It’s easier than you might think, to make the shift.
And, speaking of convenience, Wellness Warehouse offers some of the biggest variety of in-store health products, which provide that one-stop shop for organic veg and whole foods, as well as soothing herbal health and medicinal products. And with the world moving towards improved mental health with the assistance and rising popularity, BOS Ice Tea even CBD shots for the soothing release of your week’s stressors.
We have a wealth of information at our Googling fingertips, and a growing network of professionals and amateurs alike who are diving into the resounding benefits of a climate smart diet, and we can only benefit at this point.
The Eden Festival is largely about the restoration of the environment and oneself. To heal our bodies as much as the environment around us. Let’s start with the micro and move outwards then, shall we?
Scientists have found that trees communicate in various ways, one of them being fascinating fungal networks below the earth.
For this year’s Women’s Day in South Africa, we want to introduce a woman in sustainability who inspires us daily. After earning a Master’s degree in Development Studies, she joined Greenpop in 2014. When she is not heading up programmes across Sub-Saharan Africa, you can find her spending time with her family, tending to her garden, practising Italian, and searching for the best pizza in the Mother City. Get to know Zoë Gauld-Angelucci!
World Environment Day is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and has been held annually since 1974. The goal of the day of action is to promote environmental awareness and draw attention to crucial concerns around our planet’s survival, that require active engagement and commitment. Today, the day represents one of the largest global platforms for environmental action, with millions of participants from around the world. Each World Environment Day focuses on a specific issue that reflects urgent problems and challenges of our time, such as climate change, biodiversity loss or pollution.
Greenpop Foundation NPC is a registered non-profit organisation. Registration Number (NPO): 151-411 NPO.