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Information » Health » Health and Body Matters » Nutrition


In order to stay healthy and take an active part in all areas of life you need to know the importance of eating the right foods.

Food can be put into different groups, each group provides nutrients that are essential for your bodies to grow, keep fit and fight off germs. The food groups are:

  • Proteins – These are the foods that help to build up the body and are found in red and white meat, fish, nuts, soya, beans, eggs and dairy foods such as milk cheese and yoghurt. Nutritionists advise that young people eat 2 to 3 portions from this group each day
  • Carbohydrates – These are foods that provide energy and are found in bread, potatoes, cereals rice and pasta. Young people should aim to eat about six portions from this group each day and include the high fibre varieties such as brown rice and wholemeal bread
  • Fats – Too much fat, especially saturated fats, will cause weight gain, and affect your heart and teeth, it is essential to include some fat in your diet. Unsaturated fats such those in oily fish like salmon are essential in a balanced healthy diet. Recommendations are that young people should not eat more than three portions of fatty or sugary foods each day. The foods in this group include crisps, chocolate, cake and fizzy drinks
  • Vitamins and minerals - This group is only needed in small quantities but is essential for fighting certain diseases and ensuring healthy teeth, bones skin etc. Vitamins are present in a wide range of foods but it is now thought to be very important for everyone to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. This also includes fruit juices and should include green leafy vegetables as well. Dairy products are a good source of calcium needed for healthy bones and red meat and green vegetables, as well as some cereals, contain iron needed to prevent anaemia
  • Fibre – This group of foods helps to keep the digestive system functioning. Fibre is found in fruit and vegetables, wholemeal flour, bread and pasta
  • Water – This is essential to keep our bodies functioning. In the UK climate we should drink 1.2 litres of fluid each day. This stops us getting dehydrated, and in hotter climates we need to drink more. Some fluid comes from the food we eat

Choosing foods from each of these groups in the right amounts will provide you with a healthy diet and should help to protect you from disease and illness.

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