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Healthy and sustainable diets – where do we stand?



In 2010, the FAO defined sustainable diets by including the dimensions of environmental impact, nutritional adequacy, accessibility and economic development. Since then, scientific researchers have become more interested in the environmental impact of food .

The fruit and vegetable sector is at the heart of economic and societal concerns: the issue of “health for the population” and ecological transition are two pillars of sustainable food included in national 1 and European 2 guidelines . It is in this context that Aprifel wished to initiate its communication on sustainability and the environment, by carrying out a bibliographical state of the art on healthy and sustainable food models, to establish the scientific facts currently proven on the subject.
Environmental impacts are divided into four compartments: water, climate, biodiversity and soil. They are often evaluated by Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for each food, from its production to its end of life.
To reference as many articles as possible, nine queries were defined on Google Scholar (2010-2021). Two sortings made it possible to select 77 articles for further analysis and analysis, 58% of which related to the climate

A holistic approach needed to model healthy and sustainable diets

As the FAO definition emphasizes , a sustainable diet should be nutritionally sound, accessible, environmentally friendly, socially and economically acceptable and consistent with local culture.

In general, diets that are healthy for the environment are also healthy for your health. A sustainable diet model is not yet established but local consumption, culturally consistent and nutritionally adequate, would reduce the environmental pressure caused by food systems 3,4 .

Reducing consumption of non-essential foods and reducing recommended serving sizes of essential foods are among the recommended strategies, but cultural acceptability of eating less can be difficult. A sociological approach would therefore be essential 5 .

Plants, including fruits and vegetables, at the heart of the sustainability solution

Studies show that a healthy diet can also be climate-sustainable by reducing the consumption of red meat and increasing the proportion of vegetables. However, three studies underline the interest of studying the carbon footprints of each animal species, which can be lower (eg poultry, chicken and pork have a lower carbon footprint than for ruminants) 6,7,8 .
It has also been shown that the total elimination of foods that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions such as meat and dairy products may not be culturally realistic and would require supplementation with certain micronutrients (iron, calcium, etc.) because of possible deficiencies 9 .

Water and biodiversity: subjects little covered

Water and biodiversity remain subjects that are little treated, with many limitations: lack of information concerning the irrigated areas, the dates of cultivation of the fields and the demands for irrigation water, and stage of the method non-detailed LCA. Nevertheless, the articles studied made it possible to draw up the following results:

  • The Mediterranean diet would correspond to a sustainable diet. If applied in Italy, it would have reduced the use of 152,000 million m2 of water between 2006 and 2011 10 .
  • The lower the consumption of animal products, the lower the water footprint 11 .
  • Plant-based diets would reclaim 76% of land devoted to animal production to restore ecosystems 12 .
  • In the United States, the vegetarian diet would save 200 million ha for an intake of 2000kcal/d, compared to the current diet 13 .
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How does working at night affect health?



Working at night means that our physical and mental capacities are less, and staying awake carrying out a work activity implies a greater effort in all senses.

Human beings are biologically prepared to live during the day and rest at night. We are daytime animals. The added wear and tear of working at night , either continuously or in rotating shifts, ends up taking its toll and can favor the appearance of different alterations, both physical and mental.

How it affects working at night

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that a person who works a night shift will suffer a premature aging of five years for every 15 that he works at night, although the effects of this alteration will probably not be appreciated until 5-years from now. 10 years of working nights .
In general terms, people are more alert and perform better between 8:00 and 18:00. After these hours, especially if you work more than eight hours, you are more likely to make mistakes, have accidents, and be less productive at work.
The work schedule not only affects the quantity and quality of sleep, but also has repercussions on nutrition. To maintain good health it is necessary to eat a balanced diet.with a supply of essential nutrients for the proper functioning of the body. Likewise, it is necessary that the food intake is divided into several meals, preferably hot. People who work nights frequently eat cold, fast foods that do not provide adequate nutrients. Waking up at noon, they probably don’t have the appetite to eat a hot dish and can’t eat it during their night shift. These dietary changes can favor the appearance of serious diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or increased cholesterol levels.

what happens at night

At night, when the body is tired and preparing to sleep, it secretes melatonin , which is a hormone that helps us relax and fall asleep. After rest, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol, a hormone that keeps us awake, active, alert and with an alert mind. The secretion of these hormones follows what is called the circadian rhythm, which regulates the production of hormones at different doses depending on the needs of the sleep-wake cycle. When  working at nightThe body produces relaxing hormones during working hours and stimulating hormones during the day, when you try to sleep, which can seriously affect both the ability to work and concentration, as well as the quality and quantity of sleep. It is true that many of the people who work nights, especially if they always work nights, adapt to some degree to these changes, but never in the same way.

Shift changes, worse than working at night

Likewise, constant changes of shifts are worse for health, because in this way the body and hormonal production never adapt to the different needs of wakefulness and sleep than usual, which causes the person’s health to suffer further.

Among people who work the night shift, mood swings are also more frequent than in the general population, not only because of the physical and hormonal changes that night shifts cause, but also because of the difficulty in socializing that night shifts cause. it entails, since when most people are free to socialize these people have to go to work at night .

It is very common for relationships to suffer, especially if the night shift is not shared, as well as the relationship with the children. In the same way, some daytime activities during the weekend of the children are limited or restricted by the need for rest of those who work the night shift.

It is also common for the person working at night to end up suffering from a burnout syndrome or professional exhaustion in such a way that they feel exhausted both physically and mentally, with excessive fatigue, a fickle state of mind, an increase in levels anxiety, feel more irritable and may develop depression. Fatigue does not improve despite rest, there is less ability to concentrate, muscle and joint pain, headaches, unrefreshing sleep and general malaise. Many of these people, on occasion, must use medication to stabilize their mood and achieve sleep.

How to manage these schedules as best as possible

Despite everything, in our society there are professions that need to be carried out partly at night (health professionals, firefighters, security forces, pilots and drivers of night services, etc.). So, if you have to work at night, a series of measures can be taken to prevent the impact of this alteration of the natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness from being excessive:

  • Take care of eating habits, ensuring a balanced and adequate supply of nutrients and ensuring that three intakes are given a day, preferably hot food and not pre-cooked or cold meals.
  • Establish a minimum of between six and eight hours of rest after the work shift, following the same routines that would be performed before going to bed at night.
  • Adapt the room where you sleep to ensure rest, avoiding the entry of light, excess heat or noise from outside.
  • Getting moderate, age-appropriate exercise before going to work to boost energy levels during night work hours.
  • Take care of family and social relationships despite changes in schedules and shifts so that these spheres do not suffer from the night shift.
  • Stimulants such as tea or coffee can be taken, but only until the middle of the night, so that their effect does not prevent sleep once the work shift is over.
  • Never take hypnotic drugs to fall asleep unless the doctor has prescribed them and, if possible, only occasionally or for short periods of time, until the body adapts to the change in the sleep-wake cycle.

If you have to work at night and notice that your body suffers a lot, do not take it lightly and contact your regular doctor.

With the  MAPFRE Salud Insurance  you can consult with a team of professionals on all health-related questions.

What you should know…

  • It is estimated that a person who works a night shift will experience a premature aging of five years for every 15 that they work at night.
  • But constant shift changes are worse for health, because in this way the body and hormonal production never get to adapt to the different needs of waking and sleeping than usual.
  • Taking care of your diet, exercising, establishing minimum hours of rest… are some key guidelines to best cope with night or shift work.
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Physical and mental health care



Taking care of our health should be a priority during any stage of our lives. This will help us to have an excellent quality of life at all levels and ages.

According to the definition elaborated by the World Health Organization (WHO), ” health is a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not only the absence of affections or diseases ” Thus, it is clear that beyond pathologies, health encompasses various factors that intervene in the quality of life of each one. A healthy person, therefore, would be one who enjoys a full and happy life at all levels.

How to take care of our physical health?

Enjoying a good state of health can be achieved through various actions and can be maintained for a long time or lost due to various reasons.

To be healthy , a person should:

  • Follow a healthy and balanced diet .
  • Exercising regularly _
  • Avoid the consumption of toxic or addictive substances such as tobacco, alcohol or any type of drug.
  • Carry out the pertinent medical check-ups or control possible complications. Here it plays a fundamental role to have a good health insurance that can support you against any disease with the best professionals and coverage.

And it is that the WHO assures that it would be enough to maintain a healthy diet, a normal weight and some physical activity throughout life to prevent a third of cancer cases. At the opposite pole, we find that eating improperly, leading a sedentary life, and smoking cause up to 80% of premature coronary heart disease.

How to take care of our mental health?

The importance of taking care of health also covers the psychological aspect and emotions . Having a positive attitude towards life, establishing healthy personal relationships , limiting stressful situations and fostering optimism are practices that we cannot lose sight of, since they will help us improve our health.

Effects of crisis periods on health

Health is a state that can be achieved, but for many it is not easy to achieve and for many others it is easy to lose. The latter has become evident in recent months, as the current economic crisis has had an impact on the health of citizens. According to a study by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, a group supported by the WHO, the crisis has produced an increase in mental disorders such as depression and anxiety .

In addition, it has an effect on infectious diseases, which spread, favored by the worse living conditions of people with few resources, but also by the difficulties in accessing treatment and by the drop in the quality of the public health system. This is the case of the appearance of new outbreaks of malaria in Greece, a disease extinct in Europe, or the increase in HIV infections among drug addicts in that country.

Every April 7th, World Health Day is celebrated, which reminds us that the importance of taking care of our health will be the key to facing our day to day with energy, vitality and a smile. It is in our hands to reach an optimal state of health or, on the contrary, lead a life full of depressive episodes, fatigue, decay, etc. Do not forget to take care of your body and your mind , and above all, try to relativize all the problems that surround you.

What you should know:
  • Health is a concept that encompasses much more than the absence of disease.
  • Habits such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, the absence of toxins, living with optimism and promoting healthy relationships can help us achieve optimal health.
  • The economic crisis and cuts are leading to an increase in some illnesses, especially mental illnesses.

Remember that at  MAPFRE  we take care of your well-being and that of your loved ones, which is why we offer you  Health Insurance  with the best coverage so that you are always protected against any pathology or illness.

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Adopt a healthy lifestyle



Small lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of having another stroke. Changing clothes is obviously not always easy. Your health care team can tell you which risk factors you should focus on first and which goals seem realistic to you.Don’t try to change all your clothes overnight. Start with a relatively simple change, then use that first success as a springboard.Have a healthy dietEven small changes in your diet can have a big health benefit. Balanced meals and healthy snacks help you:

increase your intake of healthy foods;
reduce your weight;
prevent high blood pressure;
control your blood sugar levels;
lower your cholesterol level;
increase your energy level.

All of these factors reduce your risk of stroke. If you need help adopting a healthy lifestyle, consult a dietitian-nutritionist. The following tips will help you eat healthy.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

Vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are also low in calories, fat and sodium (salt). They help lower cholesterol levels, prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight.

Choose foods high in fiber

The best sources of fiber are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and vegetables like lentils. Eating fiber helps you lower your cholesterol levels, prevent high blood pressure, and maintain a healthy weight.

Consume less salt

Reducing your sodium (salt) intake lowers your blood pressure and reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke by approximately one-third. Most of the salt consumed comes from packaged foods and restaurant meals. Here are some tips to help you reduce your salt intake.

Choose the right fats

Not all fats are the same. Saturated fats and trans fats raise cholesterol levels. Other types of fat or oil, called unsaturated fats, help prevent plaque from forming on the inside lining of blood vessels.

Consume less added sugar

Added sugar provides energy in the form of calories, but has no other nutritional benefit. When we don’t need those calories, we store them as fat. Healthy eating recommendations do not specify how much sugar to eat. It is certain, however, that you will maintain a healthy weight if you reduce your sugar intake

Eat reasonable portions

Measuring your portions is always a good idea, whether you’re at home or in a restaurant.

At home, use smaller plates, bowls and cups than usual.
Fill half your plate with vegetables (excluding potatoes). Fill a quarter of the plate with whole grains like brown rice or whole grain pasta. The last quarter of the plate is reserved for meat and alternatives, such as beans, tofu or low-fat cheese.
Avoid helping yourself to oversized portions and refilling.
At the restaurant, it is possible to order a starter only. Otherwise, you can also ask for a small portion or take the leftovers with you when you leave the restaurant.
Have an active lifestyle

Getting into the habit of getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week is a great way to maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and manage diabetes and stress. It’s also a habit that reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by 30%.

Ask your healthcare team about the right ways to be active for your specific situation. It will take into account your abilities, your state of health and your preferences in this area. She will help you design a plan that is both enjoyable and safe. Find out if there are programs near you that match your needs and abilities.

No matter your health, there’s always a way to stay active. Yoga or tai chi might be for you. Or maybe it would be nice for you to go for walks more often. Some activities are also suitable for a person who is seated or in bed.

Start with sessions of ten to fifteen minutes. Then gradually increase the duration, frequency and intensity of these sessions according to your progress. You will, after a while, reach the recommended goal of a total of 150 minutes per week.

Reduce your alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking are risk factors for hypertension and stroke. Alcohol also has the disadvantage of interacting with your medications.

If you drink alcohol, limit your intake to small amounts. Drink slowly and take plenty of water at the same time. [Note: New low-risk drinking guidelines have been released and are under review.]

If needed, ask your health care team to recommend a program to manage binge drinking.

Stop using non-medical drugs

Using non-medical drugs increases the risk of another stroke. Ask your health care team for recommendations of programs near you that might help you break this habit.

Manage your stress

We know that people who have high stress levels or prolonged stress experience high blood pressure or cholesterol levels. They are also more likely to suffer from thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), a risk factor for stroke

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