Nutrition and lifestyle

Food provides a range of different nutrients. Some nutrients provide energy, while others are essential for growth and maintenance of the body.

Carbohydrate, protein and fat are macronutrients that we need to eat in relatively large amounts in the diet as they provide our bodies with energy and also the building blocks for growth and maintenance of a healthy body. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients, which are only needed in small amounts, but are essential to keep us healthy. There are also some food components that are not strictly ‘nutrients’ but are important for health, such as water and fibre.

Regular physical activity can help decrease our risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes, and conditions like obesity, hypertension and depression. Being active at every age increases quality of life and everyone’s chances of remaining healthy and independent.

We know that, at both work and home, technology encourages us to sit for long periods. We are also more likely to drive or take public transport rather than walking or cycling, or use lifts instead of stairs.

For activity to be effective for our health and wellbeing it does not mean we have to take part in vigorous activity. According to guidelines from the UK Chief Medical Officers, we should aim to take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. However, over one in four women and one in five men do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week, so are classified as ‘inactive’. In fact, physical inactivity is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in the UK.

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