What is a healthy diet?

To celebrate the launch of our new Health Swap app, over the coming weeks we will be posting blogs all about nutrition. This first blog will answer the questions, what is a healthy diet and why is it important? 

There is a lot of talk in the media at the moment about healthy eating and with new diets appearing every day, it can be a confusing world. Whether it is paleo, veganism, pescatarian, low carb, Atkinson, fasting and so many more, it can feel very overwhelming and can lead to people simply giving up. When faced with all this information it can be sometimes be useful to go back to basics and look at what a healthy diet is. The DSActive Health Swap app is designed to help people with Down’s syndrome to make positive changes to their diet, including making their diet healthier.

There are many different definitions of a healthy diet. The definition used by the DSActive team, and the basis of our Health Swap app, is as follows:

A healthy and balanced diet is mainly made up of vegetables and fruit, good proteins, healthy facts and slow releasing carbohydrates. Dairy products, oils and spreads should only be consumed sometimes, and consumption of sugary and fatty foods should be limited.

The key is to make sure there is a balance of all the main food groups, to make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from fruit and vegetables, and to make sure you are only consuming as much sugar as you need to maintain energy levels.

It is particularly important that people with Down’s syndrome eat a healthy diet. Research shows that nearly 70% of people with Down’s syndrome are overweight or obese. People with Down’s syndrome are also known to have a slower metabolism, which means they burn the calories they consume 10-15% slower during exercise. This means that it can be easier for people with Down’s syndrome to gain weight and make them more susceptible to the long term health conditions associated with being overweight.

There are also other health conditions associated with Down’s syndrome which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. These include diabetes, gastrointestinal conditions and hypothyroidism. The Down’s Syndrome Association’s Health Series contains more information on these conditions and can be found on the DSA’s website www.downs-syndrome.org.uk

For more information on the Health Swap app please click here or email dsactive@downs-syndrome.org.uk