NUTRITION AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
The best way to maintain a healthy body weight is to eat right and stay active. A government agencey called the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has created a tool called "My Pyramid" to help people select a healthy, well-balanced diet and appropriate physical activity.
The pyramid's vertical bands represent that a healthy diet requires 1) eating a variety of foods (grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, dairy products, and high-protein foods), and 2) choosing the best foods in each group. For example, whole-grain is better than white pasta, and skim milk is better than ice-cream.
A healthy diet requires a variety of foods. The food groups represented in the pyramid are grains (orange), vegetables (green), fruits (red), oils (yellow), dairy products (blue), meats and beans (purple).
The U.S. Surgeon General and many professional health organizations recommend a diet containing 20-35 grams of fiber a day. The average American diet barely consumes half of this amount with an intake of 10-15 grams daily.
Healthier foods are low in calories, low in saturated and trans fats (to improve your cholesterol levels), and high in fiber (a type of carbohydrate found in plants). Our bodies cannot digest fiber or use it for energy. That means that you can eat a lot of fiber and feel full without having to store any of its calories. Fiber also aids digestion (keeps stool soft and traveling easily through the intestine) and can even help fight cancer, particularly colon cancer.
Physical activity refers to any movement produced by muscular contractions that burns extra calories. Examples of physical activity include pushing a stroller, vacuuming, or mowing the lawn. Physical activity is intense enough to make you break a sweat, but comfortable enough to let you carry on a conversation.
Adults are expected to participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day on most days of the week. Children and teens should get even more, at least 60 minutes per day. You can do all of the recommended 30 minutes at once, or break it up into 10- or 15-minute periods throughout the day.
Walking briskly (3-4 mph) for even 15 to 20 minutes a day begins to decrease your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or developing type 2 diabetes.
Supported by the Utah Department of Health Chronic Disease Genomics Program through Cooperative Agreement Number U58/CCU822802 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.