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Living Healthily

The Cayman Islands will celebrated Caribbean Wellness Day on Saturday, 10 September. The theme is

The Cayman Islands will celebrated Caribbean Wellness Day under the theme "Love that Body" on Saturday, 10 September.

The aim of this initiative is to heighten awareness of health and well being, encourage persons to engage in regular physical activity and choose healthy lifestyles. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the burden of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, obesity and cancer.

So, why is this theme so important that it continues to be repeated time and time again? It cannot be stressed enough that these chronic diseases are the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths.

Based on a wealth of scientific evidence, the World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are two of the main risk factors for raised blood pressure, raised blood glucose, abnormal cholesterol levels, overweight/obesity, all of which commonly lead to chronic diseases.

Fortunately, these risk factors are within our control, both as individuals and as a society, to change. Collectively small changes should lead to a big difference in our health now and for the future.

The following recommendations are those based on the most recent scientific evidence surrounding healthy lifestyles to prevent disease and promote wellness.

A Healthy Diet:

Choose whole grains, legumes, and staples high in fibre

  • Ensure at least half of your daily intake from grains are whole grain (e.g brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, whole wheat crackers, bran and oat cereals)
  • Increase fiber also with staples and legumes such as breadfruit, sweet potato, green banana, pumpkin, beans, peas, and lentils.
  • Keep your calorie needs in mind. Practice portion control by filling approx. ¼ of your plate with grains.

Enjoy at least 5 portions-A-Day of fruits and vegetables

  • 1 Portion = 1 med. piece fruit, 2 small fruits, ½ cup sliced fruit, 1 cup raw vegetables, ½ cup steamed vegetables
  • Include at least 1 dark green leafy vegetables like calaloo or broccoli for iron, folate, and calcium
  • Include at least 1 orange /yellow fruit or vegetable like carrots, cantaloupe, or orange/red/yellow sweet peppers for beta carotene and vitamin C.
  • Choose more fresh or frozen produce rather than canned, which usually have added salt and/or sugar
  • Plan meals to fill approx. ½of the plate with fruit and vegetables.

Limit added sugars and concentrated sugars

  • Drink less sodas, fruit punch, juices, and pre-sweetened beverages.
  • Opt for more water (at least 6-8 glasses a day) and low sugar beverages such as sparkling water, unsweetened ice tea, and very dilute natural fruit juice. Drink less sodas, fruit punch, juices, and pre-sweetened beverages. Diet soda and sugar free powdered drink mixes can be used safely in moderation.
  • Use a substitute sweetener, such as Splenda or Stevia brands, to sweeten foods and beverages instead of using sugar.
  • Use fresh or dried fruits to added natural sweetness to baked goods and cereals.
  • Choose smaller portions of sweet treats such as candy, cakes, cookies, puddings, and other dessert items.

Replace "bad fats" (saturated and trans fatty acids) with "good fats" (mono- and poly-unsaturated fats)

  • Choose lean meats and trim off any visible fat and skin from poultry before cooking.
  • Use cooking methods that do not need much added fats, such as baking, grilling, steaming, broiling, boiling, or even microwaving.
  • Practice portion control by using approx ¼ of the plate as your guide for meat/fish/chicken quantities.
  • Limit commercially fried foods and baked goods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetables oils (sources of trans fats).
  • Select low fat dairy products like skim or 1% milk and reduced fat cheeses and yogurts.
  • Include regular sources of mono/polyunsaturated fats such as fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna), nuts, and seeds.
  • Choose vegetable oils, such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil, but still use in moderation.
  • Use soft margarine/spread as a substitute for hard stick butter. Look for 0g trans fat on the nutrition facts label.

Limit salt (sodium) intake

  • Limit salt to 1500- 2400 mg sodium chloride per day (read labels)
  • Use less salt in cooking and avoiding added salt at the table.
  • Flavour foods with pepper (either black or white), herbs, spices, lemon/lime juice, vinegars, and wine, garlic, ginger, onions
  • Make homemade soups and sauces without adding stock cubes or salt.
  • Buy less canned and processed foods, and choose fresh or frozen meats and vegetables as often as possible.

Drink alcohol in moderation

  • Men: Limit to 2 drinks daily
  • Women: Limit to 1 drink daily
  • One drink = 1 beer, 4-5 oz glass of wine, and 1.5 ounces 80-proof liquor.

Be active

According to WHO, different types and amounts of physical activity are required for different health outcomes. At least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. Muscle strengthening and balance training can reduce falls and increase functional status among older adults. For weight control, research has shown that more activity, up to 60 minutes on most days, may be required for some people (Blair, 2004).

Current specific recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control include:

  • Cardio or aerobic activities. Achieve the aerobic activity recommendation through one of the following options:

    1. A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day (such as brisk walking) most days of the week
    2. or

    3. A minimum of 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity (such as jogging or running) 3 days a week
  • Resistance, strength-building, and weight-bearing activities. Two days a week, incorporate strength training into your routine. Strength training activities, such as weight lifting, maintain and increase muscle strength and endurance. A goal to reach towards is completing 6-8 strength training exercises, with 8-12 repetitions per exercise.


American Heart Association. (2008). Know your fats. Retrieved from

Blair, S. (2004). Physical activity. In: Gary Foster and Cathy Nonas (Eds.), Managing obesity: a clinical guide. American Dietetic Association.

Center for Disease Control. (2008).Physical activity for everyone. Retrieved from

US Department of Health and Human Services/US Department of Agriculture. (2010). Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. 7th ed. Retrieved from

World Cancer Research Fund. (2007). UK's recommendations for cancer prevention. Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (2008). Diet and physical activity: a public health priority. Retrieved from

United States Department of Agriculture. (2011). Choose Retrieved from