The Department of Health (DOH), thru the National Nutrition Council, leads the nation in celebrating the 43rd Nutrition month with this year’s theme, “Healthy diet, gawing habit – FOR LIFE!”
Nutrition Month is an annual campaign held every July to create greater awareness on the importance of nutrition among Filipinos. Throughout the years, the Nutrition Month celebration has been institutionalized by schools and local government units as well as other stakeholders. The campaign aims to increase awareness on the importance of healthy diets which protects against both under- and overnutrition and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases and certain types of cancer.
A healthy diet encompasses a wide range of benefits, with positive impacts on nutrition, overall health, economy as well as the environment.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, a healthy diet: a. includes a variety of foods from different food groups; b. meets the individual needs for calories and nutrients; c. is safe, with no risk from toxins, bacteria, mold or chemicals; d. is enjoyable and culturally acceptable; and e. is available and sufficient each day and all year round.
Moreover, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet emphasizes regular intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, root crops, fat-free or low-fat milk, lean meats, poultry, fish, egg, beans and nuts. It is also low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars.
A healthy diet, which is part of a healthy lifestyle, is the foundation of good health. It is a diet that is able to satisfy one’s energy and nutrient needs for proper body functions, growth and development, daily activities and maintenance of health, keeping well within one’s caloric needs. Hence, it takes into consideration both quality and quantity of food consumed by a person. It also provides just enough amounts of energy needed for one’s daily activities without going beyond one’s caloric needs so as to maintain a healthy body weight. Energy requirements differ from person to person and energy provided by a healthy diet should be in balance with one’s energy expenditure.
Meanwhile, healthy diets during emergencies mean providing adequate nutrition, and not just adequate amount of food or calories. Energy needs can be met by providing a range of commodities while protein needs could be satisfied with mixtures of animal and plant-based food.
“The DOH strongly advocates for the health and nutrition of all Filipinos. I emphasize that adequate supply of clean, drinking water should be made available to prevent dehydration. Likewise, vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant and lactating women, and the elderly should be given attention to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Let us make everyday a Nutrition day!” states Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell–Ubial.