By the World Health Organization
A healthy lifestyle
To ensure a healthy lifestyle, WHO recommends eating lots of fruits and vegetables, reducing fat, sugar and salt intake and exercising. WHO provides a series of publications to promote and support healthy lifestyles.
12 steps to healthy eating
- Eat a nutritious diet based on a variety of foods originating mainly from plants, rather than animals.
- Eat bread, whole grains, pasta, rice or potatoes several times per day.
- Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, preferably fresh and local, several times per day (at least 400g per day).
- Maintain body weight between the recommended limits (a BMI of 18.5–25) by taking moderate to vigorous levels of physical activity, preferably daily.
- Control fat intake (not more than 30% of daily energy) and replace most saturated fats with unsaturated fats.
- Replace fatty meat and meat products with beans, legumes, lentils, fish, poultry or lean meat.
- Use milk and dairy products (kefir, sour milk, yoghurt and cheese) that are low in both fat and salt.
- Select foods that are low in sugar, and eat free sugars sparingly, limiting the frequency of sugary drinks and sweets.
- Choose a low-salt diet. Total salt intake should not be more than one teaspoon (5g) per day, including the salt in bread and processed, cured and preserved foods. (Salt iodization should be universal where iodine deficiency is a problem)
- WHO does not set particular limits for alcohol consumption because the evidence shows that the ideal solution for health is not to drink at all, therefore less is better.
- Prepare food in a safe and hygienic way. Steam, bake, boil or microwave to help reduce the amount of added fat.
- Promote exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months, and the introduction of safe and adequate complementary foods from the age of about 6 months. Promote the continuation of breastfeeding during the first 2 years of life.
Benefits of regular physical activity
Regular physical activity – such as walking, cycling, or dancing – has significant benefits for health. For instance, it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, help control weight, and promote mental well-being.
Taking part in physical activity increases opportunities for socialization, networking and cultural identity. Physical activity has a positive influence on the community and society by promoting social interaction and cohesion.
Especially among children and young people, sports and other physical activities contribute to empowerment and self-confidence. Physical activity furthermore helps to prevent and control risk behavior, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances, unhealthy diet and violence.
The promotion of physical activity also has a positive impact on the environment. For instance, promoting walking and cycling over the use of motorized transport reduces traffic congestion, air and noise pollution and the consumption of fossil fuels.
Regular physical activity may also benefit communities and economies through increased productivity in the workplace; lower worker absenteeism and turnover; and better performance in schools. In many countries a significant proportion of health spending is due to the costs of managing common no communicable diseases that are associated with inadequate physical activity. Promoting physical activity can be a highly cost-effective and sustainable public health intervention.
Active living benefits health at all ages. It is especially important to the healthy development of children and young people, and active ageing can make a dramatic difference to the well-being of older people.
Having the opportunity to enjoy quality recreation is vital to the health and personal development of all individuals, regardless of gender, functional ability, cultural background, age or socioeconomic status.
Benefits of a balanced diet
- Opting for a balanced, adequate and varied diet is an important step towards a happy and healthy lifestyle.
- Vitamins and minerals in the diet are vital to boost immunity and healthy development,
- A healthy diet can protect the human body against certain types of diseases, in particular no communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer and skeletal conditions.
- Healthy diets can also contribute to an adequate body weight.
- Healthy eating is a good opportunity to enrich life by experimenting with different foods from different cultures, origins and with different ways to prepare food.
- The benefits of eating a wide variety of foods are also emotional, as variety and colour are important ingredients of a balance diet.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.