We all know that eating well and getting regular exercise are vital to good health. But what, exactly, does eating well mean? And how much exercise is enough?
Living in the information age hasn’t made answering those questions any easier. An Internet search of Canadian sources for “diet” and “exercise” will yield more than a million websites offering enough information – much of it conflicting – to overwhelm even the most nutrition-conscious among us.
Fortunately, there is a trusted source to help sort out the confusion. For 65 years, Canadians have relied upon Canada’s Food Guide for information about the foods they eat. With the launch of the 2007 edition, Canadians can once again turn to this well recognized Government of Canada publication to sort out food facts from fiction.
“The Food Guide isn’t a diet and it transcends food fads,” says Mary Bush, Director General of Health Canada’s Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion. “It’s built on sound, evidence-based science and a wide range of expert opinions.” Following the Food Guide, she says, can help people reduce their risk of developing obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer and osteoporosis.
The revised Food Guide is the result of three years of work which included consultations with 7,000 Canadians – including dietitians, scientists, physicians and public health personnel – and it provides recommendations on what foods to eat and how much to eat each day.
New to this edition of the Food Guide are recommendations based on age and gender for the daily number of servings from each of the four food groups (Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, Meat and Alternatives) plus a small amount of added oils and fats.
The revised Food Guide also features a new online, interactive tool called My Food Guide that allows Canadians to personalize the Food Guide to fit their food preferences and lifestyle.
Also new is the recommendation that men and women over the age of 50 need a daily vitamin D supplement. This is based on evidence that as we age we need more of this important vitamin than can be obtained from following the Food Guide.
So, how much exercise is enough? That, too, varies depending on your age. According to Canada’s Physical Activity Guide, thirty to 60 minutes of activity a day is good for adults, while growing children and youth need at least 90 minutes of daily activity to be healthy.
For more information visit Health Canada’s Food Guide website at www.healthcanada.gc.ca/foodguide
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