• Tech Tech

New study makes concerning prediction about future of human health because of dwindling nutrition source: 'The other options are often of poor nutritional quality'

"Implementing solutions … should be part of political, as well as individual, efforts."

"Implementing solutions ... should be part of political, as well as individual, efforts."

Photo Credit: iStock

"You are what you eat," as the saying goes — and for coastal First Nations in Canada, seafood has long been a staple of a heart-healthy diet. But rising global temperatures threaten these traditional food sources, and cardiovascular health may suffer as a result.

What's happening?

A new study, published in the journal Facets, paints a troubling picture for First Nations living along Canada's Pacific coast.

By 2050, the research projects that climate-driven declines in seafood consumption could increase heart attack risk by up to 2.6% for men and 1.8% for women. For those 50 and older, the jump could be as high as 6.5%.

First Nations' diets have historically been rich in fish, shellfish, and seaweed — great sources of protein, nutrients, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But rising temperatures are making this bounty harder to come by. Already, half of those surveyed say there's not enough to go around.

"From an epidemiological point of view, we know that omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a reduction in heart disease," said Université de Montréal nutrition professor Malek Batal, one of the study's lead researchers. "But sources of these 'good fats' are dwindling year by year, and the other options are often of poor nutritional quality, such as highly processed foods."

Why is the dwindling fish supply concerning?

It's no secret that omega-3s are the heart's best friend. But as warming waters deplete these "good fats," many are turning to heavily processed foods instead. Pair that with high rates of food insecurity, inactivity, and other challenges facing First Nations, and you've got a recipe for cardiovascular troubles.

But this isn't just about health metrics — it's about a way of life. Beyond nourishing the body, traditional foods bring people together and support mental well-being. Losing access to these resources means losing touchstones of cultural identity.

"In addition to promoting nutritional and cardiovascular health, seafood enables people to develop strong cultural bonds, to socialize, and to be active, which also improves mental health," Batal said.

What's being done about the dwindling fish supply?

Thankfully, there are solutions on the horizon. Experts say better access is key — think organized fishing trips, workshops on preparing different species, and policies that protect wild fisheries. Individuals can do their part by making space for traditional foods in their diets.

"Traditional food systems are essential to First Nations; there are no nutritionally and culturally equivalent resources," said Batal. "Implementing solutions such as the ones we propose in the FNFNES should be part of political, as well as individual, efforts towards reconciliation and decolonization."

First Nations have a right to the foods that have sustained them for generations. And while rising global temperatures pose an unprecedented threat, there are ways to safeguard these life-giving resources. With a little ingenuity and a lot of heart, a healthier future is on the menu.

Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.

Cool Divider