Adult nutrition (part 2)

Adult nutrition (part 2) Drink plenty of fluids. Adults need to drink at least 1.5 litres of fluid daily, even more if its hot or they are physically active. Plain water is a good source of liquid but variety can be both pleasant and healthy.

Choose alternative fluids from juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee and milk. Fats in moderation Fat is a nutrient in food that is essential for good health. Fats provide a ready source of energy and enable the body to absorb, circulate and store the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat-containing foods are needed to supply "essential fatty acids" that the body cannot make.

For example, oil-rich fish and fish oil supplements are rich sources of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These, along with omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-6 PUFAs) such as linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA), must be consumed in the diet. Too much fat however, especially saturated fats, can lead to adverse health effects such as overweight and high cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Limiting the amount of fat, especially saturated fat in the diet -but not cutting it out entirely- is the best advice for a healthy diet. Most dietary recommendations are that less than 30% of the day's total calories should come from fat and less than 10% of the day's total calories should come from saturated fat.

Balance the salt intake

Salt (NaCl) is made up of sodium and chloride. Sodium is a nutrient and is present naturally in many foods. Sodium and chloride are important in helping the body to maintain fluid balance and to regulate blood pressure. For most people, any excess sodium passes straight through the body however in some people it can increase blood pressure. Reducing the amount of salt in the diet of those who are sensitive to salt may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. The relationship between salt intake and blood pressure is still unclear and individuals should consult their doctor for advice.

Start now - and make changes gradually

Making changes gradually, such as eating one more fruits/portion of vegetables each day, cutting back on portion sizes, or taking the stairs instead of the lift, means that the changes are easier to maintain.

Why is physical activity also important?

The advise for increased physical activity is strongly linked to overall healthy lifestyle recommendations because it affects energy balance and the risk of lifestyle-related diseases. Over the past few years, many position papers have set out the importance of moderate physical activity for good health. These reports indicate that being physically active for at least 30 minutes daily reduces the risk of developing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and colon cancer, all of which are major contributors to morbidity and mortality in Europe. In addition, in both children and adults, physical activity is related to improvements in body flexibility, aerobic endurance, agility and coordination, strengthening of bones and muscles, lower body fat levels, blood fats, blood pressure and reduced risk of hip fractures in women. Physical activity makes you feel better physically and encourages a more positive mental outlook. Increases in physical activity levels are needed in every age group and recommendations are that adults be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

What groups are responsible for promoting healthy lifestyles?

The responsibility for promoting healthy diets and increasing levels of physical activity must involve the active participation of many groups including governments, health professionals, the food industry, the media and consumers. There is a shared responsibility to help promote healthy diets that are low in fat, high in complex carbohydrates and that contain large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with regular amounts of physical activity Ultimately, it is consumers who choose which foods to eat and their choices are influenced by a large number of factors such as quality, price, taste, custom, availability, and convenience. Consumer education, the development and implementation of food based dietary guidelines, nutrition labelling, nutrition education in schools and increased opportunities for physical activity can all help to improve the nutritional well-being of people.

Key factors of a healthy diet (part 1)

Bibliography * Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (1997). Getting the best from your food. Rome. * Hu, F. B.; Rimm, E. B.; Stampfer, M.J., Ascherio, A., Spiegelman, D., Willet, W.C., (2000). Prospective study of major dietary patterns and risk of coronary heart disease in man. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72:912-921. * Johnson, R. K. (2000). The 2000 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: foundation of US nutrition policy. British Nutrition Foundation Bulletin, 25:241-248. * Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (1994). General Household Survey. HMSO, London. * Richardson, D. P. (2000). The science behind wholegrain and the reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. British Nutrition Foundation Bulletin, 25:353-360. * Stamler, J.; Neaton, J. D. and Wentworth, D. N. (1989). Blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) and risk of fatal coronary heart disease. Hypertension, 13(suppl. 5):2-12. * World Health Organisation (1989). MONICA Project: risk factors. International Journal of Epidemiology, 18(suppl. 1):S46-S55. * World Health Organisation (1995). Epidemiology and prevention of cardiovascular diseases in elderly people. WHO Technical Report Series 853, Geneva. * World Health Organisation (1996). Hypertension Control. WHO Technical Report Series 862, Geneva. References: European Food Information Council (EUFIC) Date last updated: 18 November 2006

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