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WELLopedia v2 Nourishment Concept

WELLopedia v2: Nourishment Concept

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The WELL Nourishment concept champions the promotion of wholesome and sustainable dietary habits by prioritizing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, curbing the availability of overly processed foods, and architecting spaces that subtly guide individuals towards healthier dietary decisions. This concept is rooted in the belief that our surroundings should be designed in such a way that the healthiest option becomes the most accessible and straightforward choice.

In today’s world, the environment is not the only entity under threat. A significant portion of the global populace grapples with the dual challenge of malnutrition, marked by micronutrient deficiencies, and the escalating rates of overweight, obesity, and non-communicable diseases. Alarmingly, the risks associated with unhealthy eating habits surpass those of drug, alcohol, and tobacco consumption combined.

But what does this have to do with buildings and the WELL Building Standard? The answer lies in the intricate web of factors that shape our dietary habits. While personal and cultural influences play a role, the environment, especially the architectural spaces and communities where we spend a significant chunk of our lives and consume most of our meals, has a profound impact. The WELL Building Standard v2 recognizes this interplay and offers 13 distinct features under the Nourishment concept. This course will delve into these features, providing insights and strategies within the framework of an actual project, emphasizing the pivotal role buildings play in shaping our dietary choices.

Objectives:

  1. To elucidate the connection between nutritional transparency and the WELL Building standard, guiding informed food choices in built environments.
  2. To highlight the role of organic foods in the WELL Building standard, addressing challenges like pesticide residue and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  3. To promote the principles of the WELL Building standard through ethical and socially responsible food sourcing, emphasizing animal welfare and humane practices.
  4. To discuss the implications of dietary exposure to harmful substances within the context of the WELL Building standard’s objectives.
  5. To advocate for mindful eating practices aligned with the WELL Building standard, emphasizing the importance of portion control and the reduction of food waste.
  6. To underscore the benefits of whole grains and dietary fiber, linking their importance to the WELL Building standard’s goals for healthier built environments.
  7. To provide insights into the integration of special diets, responsible food sourcing, and the local food environment within the framework of the WELL Building standard.

Keyterms

WELL Building Standard, Nourishment concept, dietary practices, food quality, artificial ingredients, nutritional transparency, food advertising, portion sizes, nutrition education, mindful eating, meal breaks, special diets, responsible food sourcing, sustainable sourcing, food labeling, local food environment, fruits and vegetables, and food allergens.

WELLopedia v2 Nourishment Concept (4)

The importance of nourishment in our rapidly changing global landscape cannot be understated. The present state of food production significantly contributes to global environmental shifts. At the same time, our world grapples with a dual nutritional challenge: vast portions of the population suffer from malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, while there is a concurrent rise in overweight individuals, obesity, and non-communicable diseases. Such health challenges underscore the pivotal role of diet. Healthy dietary patterns have the potential not only to improve individual health but also to combat diet-related diseases like cardiovascular ailments and diabetes. Alarmingly, it's a sobering reality that improper nutrition is responsible for over one-fifth of global deaths, a risk that astonishingly surpasses those associated with drugs, alcohol, and tobacco combined.

Our choices in food are not made in isolation. They're intricately tied to our surroundings and the infrastructure that supports our daily lives. Dietary habits are influenced by a combination of personal, cultural, and, crucially, environmental factors. This brings into focus the role of our built environment, especially the buildings and communities we frequent. The way these spaces are designed, and the food options they promote, can shape our dietary choices. Recognizing this, the WELL Building Standard has introduced the Nourishment concept. This innovative approach advocates for sustainable eating by enhancing access to fresh produce, minimizing the availability of highly processed foods, and creating environments that naturally nudge individuals towards healthier choices.

Within this broader context, GBRI presents the "Nourishment Concept" module under version 2 of the WELL Building standard. As a leader in online, gamified sustainability education, GBRI is dedicated to making resources both affordable and accessible globally. This module, forming a core part of our WELLOPEDIA Series, offers a comprehensive exploration of the WELL Building Standard version 2, ensuring that stakeholders understand the profound connection between buildings, environment, and our dietary choices.

The WELL Building Standard emphasizes the essential role nourishment plays in constructing healthier living spaces. Under the Nourishment concept, there are 13 distinct features, of which 2 are mandatory preconditions for certification, while 11 serve as optional optimizations as shown in the table below:

Preconditions (2)
  1. Fruits and Vegetables
  1. Nutritional Transparency
Optimization (11)
  1. Refined Ingredients
  1. Food Advertising
  1. Artificial Ingredients
  1. Portion Sizes
  1. Nutrition Education
  1. Mindful Eating
  1. Special Diets
  1. Food Preparation
  1. Responsible Food Sourcing
  1. Food Production
  1. Local Food Environment

 

  1. Fruits and Vegetables: Despite being pivotal for preventing chronic diseases, many globally don't achieve the recommended daily intake of five servings (400 g) of fruits and vegetables. Linked to 5.2 million deaths in 2013, the insufficient intake has serious consequences. The WELL feature focuses on promoting these vital food groups if food is available daily, with a clear intent to boost their consumption.
  2. Nutritional Transparency: Nutrition labels are common on packaged items, providing invaluable data for consumers. However, such transparency isn't standard for food in restaurants or vending machines. Given the significant portion of the population with food allergies and the impact of health warnings, it's vital to make nutrition data more accessible. This WELL feature mandates the provision of comprehensive nutritional details for daily provided or sold items.
  3. Refined Ingredients: Excessive sugar, especially added varieties, harms diet quality and health. The WHO suggests a daily limit of 25 grams of added sugar for adults. This WELL feature aims to reduce the consumption of processed foods and refined ingredients, particularly sugar and refined grains.
  4. Food Advertising: Unarguably powerful, food advertisements heavily push processed items. Particularly vulnerable are children, who are swayed by ads promoting unhealthy choices, which research links to behavioral and mental health issues. This WELL feature promotes healthful food advertising, encouraging healthier decisions.
  5. Artificial Ingredients: Found in many processed foods, artificial ingredients, while enhancing taste and shelf life, offer no nutritional advantage. Some may be toxic in large quantities or remain unevaluated for long-term health impacts. This WELL feature emphasizes labeling and phasing out artificial components.
  6. Portion Sizes: The past few decades have seen a marked growth in food portion and packaging sizes, aligning with rising obesity rates. Larger portions invariably lead to more consumption. This WELL feature highlights the need for smaller food and dishware sizes, targeting reduced overconsumption.
  7. Nutrition Education: Food literacy, reflecting one's capability to understand and implement nutritional knowledge, is essential for healthy dietary choices. Sadly, with the global shift towards easily prepared processed foods, many lack this critical literacy. This WELL feature emphasizes nutrition education, fostering improved dietary behaviors.
  1. Mindful Eating: The environment and circumstances under which we eat play a crucial role in our dietary choices. Eating solo often correlates with irregular eating patterns and a tendency toward less healthy food choices, even posing potential risks for metabolic syndrome. Moreover, distracted eating, whether due to work or entertainment, can lead to overconsumption. The WELL initiative under this feature emphasizes dedicated eating spaces and stipulated meal breaks. This encourages healthier, more mindful eating practices and promotes community dining.
  2. Special Diets: Many individuals grapple with food allergies, intolerances, or specific dietary needs. Finding suitable food options outside of home can be a challenge for them. This WELL feature champions the availability of alternative meals and clear allergen labeling. It aims to cater to diverse dietary needs, ensuring everyone has access to safe and suitable food choices.
  3. Food Preparation: With a rise in eating out since the 1970s, concerns about dietary quality grow, given the higher calorie count, lower nutrients, and larger portion sizes associated with outside meals. Conversely, home cooking promotes cost efficiency. The WELL feature here underscores the importance of on-site food preparation areas, ample storage, and facilities for meal reassembly or reheating, advocating for healthier meal practices.
  4. Responsible Food Sourcing: Antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides in our food supply pose significant health threats, including the rise of antibiotic-resistant diseases and various other health ailments. Recognizing the importance of ethical food sourcing, this WELL feature mandates the procurement and labeling of certified organic and sustainable foods. It aspires to mitigate dietary exposure to harmful substances and champions environmentally friendly and humane food production practices.
  5. Food Production: On-site food production can significantly enhance food quality and access. This WELL feature stipulates provisions for the infrastructure to cultivate food directly at the location, aiming to bolster on-site food production and accessibility.
  6. Local Food Environment: Understanding the local food landscape is paramount for promoting healthier food choices. By factoring in the surrounding food environment during site selection or programming, this WELL feature strives to ensure accessibility to fresh, local, and seasonal produce, mitigating environmental constraints.
  7. Beta Version - Red and Processed Meats: Red and processed meats have been linked with various health issues, including cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Meanwhile, low fruit and vegetable intake correlates with several severe health conditions, as identified by the WHO. This beta feature from WELL pushes for an increase in plant-based food availability, a decrease in red meat portions, and reduced visibility of red and processed meats. The overarching goal is to elevate the profile of plant-based options while limiting the emphasis on potentially harmful meats.

 

 

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