What does it mean to keep healthy?
Keeping healthy means doing things that are good for your body – things like eating nutritious foods, exercising, brushing your teeth and getting enough sleep.
It’s important to understand how what you eat and what you do affects your body. A balanced diet means that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day helps prevent tooth decay. Exercising for around 30-60 minutes each day means that you’ll stay fit and burn the right amount of calories.
Top 10 facts
- Keeping healthy means caring for your body so you have enough energy to learn, play and grow.
- All foods contain nutrients which your body needs to stay active throughout the day. Some foods have more nutrients than others.
- Everyone should have their ‘5 a day’ – this means five portions of fruit and vegetables, to get the right amount of nutrients.
- A ‘portion’ means the amount of food that fits in your hand. When you eat more than what your body needs to keep healthy and energised during the day, you can put on too much weight.
- In addition to your 5 a day, you also need portions of other food group like carbohydrates, water, fibre, minerals and fats.
- It’s important that you get the right amount of each food group, which is called a balanced diet. Your diet is another word for the food that you eat – too much one food group and too little of another food group can can mean that your body isn’t healthy.
- It's important not to eat too much sugar and salt: sugary foods are bad for your teeth and can be fattening, and salty foods can lead to heart disease.
- Keep your mouth happy by brushing and flossing to have healthy teeth and gums.
- Adults can keep healthy by avoiding things like alcohol and nicotine from cigarettes. Both of these can cause dangerous diseases.
- It’s important to have 30-60 minutes of exercise every day. This can be little things like running around your back garden, playing games with your friends or even doing chores at home!
Did you know?
All foods have nutrients in them. When you eat something, your body takes in the nutrients that it needs, and gets rid of what it doesn’t need.
Remember ‘5 a day’ – everyone should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Are you getting your 5 a day? Here are some things that count as portions of fruit and veg:
- an apple
- a banana
- baked beans
- fruit juice
- fruit smoothie
- veg in pasta sauce (such as onions and peppers)
Fruit and vegetables contain important nutrients for your body. You can get the most variety of nutrients if you choose fruit and veg that are different colours – like a rainbow! For instance, you can eat red tomatoes, orange oranges, yellow bananas, green grapes and blue blueberries. How many other rainbow combinations can you think of?
It’s important to drink plenty of water during the day. Your body is mostly made up of water!
The foods you eat don’t just affect the inside of your body, they affect your teeth too. Whenever you eat something – especially if it has sugar in it – some of it is left on your teeth. Plaque (a kind of bacteria) breaks down the sugars, which makes the enamel on your teeth soft. The enamel is what’s protecting your teeth, so once that’s gone you can get little holes called cavities that need to be filled by the dentist.
You can keep your teeth healthy and prevent cavities by brushing them at least twice a day – front, back, top and even your tongue! Count all the way up to 120 as you brush to make sure that you’re brushing for long enough.
Keeping healthy isn’t just about eating the right foods – it’s about getting exercise too. This doesn’t have to mean becoming an Olympic athlete – it just means playing a game of tag outside with your mates, or walking up stairs instead of taking the lift, or trying out for sports at school. You should get 30-60 minutes of exercise every day.
Can you spot these healthy images in the gallery below?
- Different kinds of traffic light nutrition labels
- A "Mediterranean" diet is rich in vegetables and healthy fats like olive oil
- Water is the best drink!
- Fish is good protein
- Wholemeal bread is better for us than white bread
- "Rainbow" fruit bowls!
- Sugary sweets should be an occasional treat
- Nuts are a healthy snack
- Types of pasta
- Colourful vegetables
- A good night's sleep is important for your health
- Swimming and cycling are great exercise
- Fast food shouldn't be eaten regularly
- Brushing teeth
There are seven groups of nutrients:
- Carbohydrates – bread and potatoes
- Proteins – fish and eggs
- Minerals – milk and cheese
- Vitamins – fruit and vegetables
- Fats – oil and nuts
- Fibre – grains, fruits and vegetables
We need all of those groups to have a balanced diet, but only certain amounts of each one. For example, you only need a little bit from the fats group, but a lot of vitamins and minerals. If you had a lot of fat, and not enough vitamins and minerals, you’d notice some differences in your body. You’d put on weight, and you might become very tired from not having enough iron or have brittle bones because of not getting enough calcium. A balanced diet is part of keeping healthy.
You can keep track of how much of each food group to eat by looking at the GDA, the guideline daily amount. That’s where ‘5 a day’ comes from – it’s the guideline for how much fruit and veg you’re supposed to eat to keep healthy.
When you brush your teeth, pay attention to your gums! The same plaque that gives you cavities can also infect your gums – this is called gingivitis. You can keep your gums healthy by flossing in between your teeth and making sure you get as much plaque and food out as you can.
The foods you eat all add up to a number of calories. Your GDA tells you how many calories you should have in one day. Calories are what your body uses for energy – you need energy to get dressed in the morning, play with your friends, and take a bath. If you eat more calories than your body needs, you can put on weight.
Exercising is a way to burn calories, whether you want to lose weight or just keep healthy. Different activities burn different amounts of calories. Did you know that you burn more calories reading a book than you do watching TV?
Watch out for eating too much sugar and salt! Sugary foods have lots of calories and are bad for your teeth. Sugary foods include:
- Fizzy drinks
Everyone needs a little bit of salt in a balanced diet, but too much salt is bad for your heart. Just because a food doesn’t taste salty doesn’t mean it doesn’t have salt, so always look at the labels. Salty foods include:
- Ready meals
There are bad things we do to our bodies besides eating too much fat. Smoking cigarettes is one of these things. Cigarettes are little sticks that have tobacco inside them, which can be set on fire at one end (it burns slowly) so people can suck in the smoke on the other end. Tobacco has nicotine in it, which is an addictive drug – it can make someone feel calm and happy, but it’s basically poisoning the lungs and heart. Smoking causes cancer, yellow teeth and nails, asthma and even bad breath.
Another dangerous thing people do to their bodies is drink too much alcohol. This is another kind of drug, like nicotine – it’s not addictive to everyone, but it is to some people. It makes people act differently, maybe saying things they wouldn’t normally say or doing things they wouldn’t normally do. Drinking alcohol affects the liver, which is an organ in your body that filters out bad things from your blood. It can also cause damage to the brain and heart.
Words to know:
5 a day – an easy way to remember how many portions of fruit and veg you must have in a day!
Calories – the amount of energy that a food has; if you eat too many calories, your body can’t burn it all off as energy during the day, and it can turn into fat
Carbohydrates – a large part of a balanced diet to give energy and fibre; includes breads, pasta and potatoes
Diet – the name for all of the food that you eat
Enzymes – help to break down food to help the body absorb the nutrients
Exercise – all kinds of activity that helps keep your body fit and healthy
Fats – a source of energy, and something that helps the body absorb certain nutrients; you only need a small amount of fat in a balanced diet
Food label – a little guide on each kind of food you buy that shows what’s good and bad about it; traffic lights tell you if it’s got good (green) amount of salt, an okay (yellow) amount of sugar, or a bad (red) amount of fat
GDA – stands for ‘guideline daily amount’, the amount of each food group that is recommended for keeping healthy
Nutrient – compounds in foods that are essential for health and provide us with energy
Vitamins – one of the body’s essential nutrients; vitamins can be found in fruits, vegetables, meats, grains and dairy products
Just for fun...
- Understand more about food groups with loads of online healthy food games for kids
- Can you wiggle? Play this fun game to get an hour of exercise without even realising it!
- Keep track of your 5 a day with this handy chart.
- Interactive games from the British Nutrition Foundation
- Use different colours and shapes of meat, eggs and vegetables to make funny face pizzas!
- Play the Dining Decisions game to make some healthy choices about your virtual lunch.
- Build an interactive food plate and learn about food groups and daily servings
- Play the Food Pyramid game and fly to Planet Power!
- Plan some healthy eating activities to do with your family
- HealthyActiveKids games about good food and drink choices
- Bake a virtual loaf of bread and play other games from the Grain Chain
- Feed hungry customers healthy food in Fizzy's Food Truck
Best children's books about keeping healthy
See for yourself
Have a closer look at the seven food groups, and how they are digested
Use the free Sugar Smart app to find out how much sugar is hiding in the food you eat every day
Read about dairy foods with booklets from the Dairy Council
Find out more:
- The Great Grub Club (healthy facts, recipes and games)
- Pictures of 5 a day portions
- A long list of 5 a day portions
- The seven food groups, and what each one does
- Learning about proteins
- Taking care of your teeth
- Children’s zone: exercise centre
- Find out about the dangers of smoking.
- Read a Kids' Medical Dictionary to find out more about ill health.