What’s the last thing your doctor told you to do? Do you take medications that control your cholesterol? Modify your diet because it contains an excess of sugars? If you live in Lahti, Finland, you’ll probably walk away from your practice with an unusual recommendation: walk barefoot in the woods, tend your garden or orchard, or perhaps go out collecting wild herbs for dinner.
Last summer, Lahti’s city council suggested its residents participate in a pilot study to test the hypothesis that making more “green” decisions has beneficial implications for people’s health. Five volunteers answered the call and received personalized health plans, prepared by the first female doctor in Planet health From Finland, Dr. Hannah Havery.
Planetary health researchers say human and planetary well-being are closely intertwined
According to planetary health researchers, human and planetary well-being are closely interrelated: caring for one necessarily means caring for the other. In other words, if we act to slow climate change, we can, by regressing, improve our health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nearly one in four deaths globally is linked to environmental factors Such as air pollution, climate and living conditions in cities.
Concept Planet health It was drafted by the magazine at that time scalpel and the The Rockefeller Foundation. today is Planetary Health Alliance (The Alliance for Planetary Health, in Spanish) includes more than 300 universities, NGOs, research centers and government agencies around the world. All of them are dedicated to exploring the relationship between human health and environmental conservation.
Before starting the project in Lahti, which lasted two months, the carbon footprint of each of the participants, as well as their general health, was recorded. They were completely different profiles: from young professionals, to members of families with children, through people already retired from active life. Each of them received a plan with specific recommendations on physical exercise, nutrition and the relationship with nature.
For example, it is advisable to replace dairy products such as cheese with wild herbs, which had to be collected from the surrounding forests; Walk barefoot in the countryside to reconnect with nature or grow wildflowers in your home garden. Despite the initial skepticism about such unconventional recommendations, at the end of the project everyone was very satisfied.
On average, the five participants reduced their footprint by 17%, increased their sense of well-being by 16%, and reduced their stress level by 36%.
Markus Kontinen, a 30-year-old resident, found that his fatigue level decreased by 58% after two months of the prescription, all thanks to incorporating a barefoot walk in the woods after a good running session. Another participant, Lisa Hino, lowered her risk of developing diabetes by 75%. Raija Repo, an elderly woman worried about the future of the planet, increased the vegetarian contribution to her daily menu by 40% and replaced dairy products with wild herbs. All this allowed her to reduce carbon emissions by 35%. On average, the five participants reduced their footprint by 17%, increased their sense of well-being by 16%, and reduced their stress level by 36%.
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