Staying Healthy

Maintaining good health doesn't happen by accident. It requires work, smart lifestyle choices, and the occasional checkup and test.

A healthy diet is rich in fiber, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, "good" or unsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. These dietary components turn down inflammation, which can damage tissue, joints, artery walls, and organs. Going easy on processed foods is another element of healthy eating. Sweets, foods made with highly refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages can cause spikes in blood sugar that can lead to early hunger. High blood sugar is linked to the development of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even dementia.

The Mediterranean diet meets all of the criteria for good health, and there is convincing evidence that it is effective at warding off heart attack, stroke, and premature death. The diet is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish; low in red meats or processed meats; and includes a moderate amount of cheese and wine.

Physical activity is also necessary for good health. It can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, depression, and falls. Physical activity improves sleep, endurance, and even sex. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, such as brisk walking. Strength training, important for balance, bone health, controlling blood sugar, and mobility, is recommended 2-3 times per week.

Finding ways to reduce stress is another strategy that can help you stay healthy, given the connection between stress and a variety of disorders. There are many ways to bust stress. Try, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, playing on weekends, and taking vacations.

Finally, establish a good relationship with a primary care physician. If something happens to your health, a physician you know —and who knows you — is in the best position to help. He or she will also recommend tests to check for hidden cancer or other conditions.

Staying Healthy Articles

Are some painkillers safer for your heart than others?

Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) routinely over a long time period can increase the risk of heart disease. Although this danger is greatest in people with heart disease, it’s also present in people without any signs of the disease. A large study suggested that the prescription-only drug celecoxib might be less risky than two other widely used over-the-counter drugs, ibuprofen and naproxen. But limitations in the study created some uncertainty about the findings. People who take any NSAID should always take the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time.  (Locked) More »

Can vitamin C prevent a cold?

For the general population, taking daily vitamin C does not reduce the risk of getting a cold. Taking at least 200 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C per day appears to reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children, meaning recovery about one day sooner. It’s best to get vitamin C from food. Eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day should provide the Recommended Dietary Allowance of 90 mg per day for men and 75 mg per day for women. (Locked) More »

The 4 most important types of exercise

Some aspects of exercise and fitness are ignored. But everyone should do aerobics, stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises. Aerobic exercise has many benefits, such as improving endurance and reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, depression, and falls. Strength training builds muscle and bone mass. It helps people remain capable of carrying out daily tasks, such as lifting a bag of groceries. Stretching helps maintain flexibility, which is also important for daily activities, such as bending down to tie a shoelace. Balance exercises help prevent falls. (Locked) More »

The secret to an easier allergy season

Pretreating allergies before the season starts will lead to better control of symptoms and may prevent symptoms from showing up. This is partly because some drugs, such as corticosteroid nasal sprays, take a few weeks to become fully effective. It’s also because the reaction to even a few allergens has a snowball effect. Only certain allergy medications should be used in advance, including corticosteroid nasal sprays and antihistamines. But antihistamines can sometimes cause drowsiness, which can lead to falls, so they are not recommended for older adults. (Locked) More »

What can you do to avoid Alzheimer’s disease?

It is unclear what causes 99% of Alzheimer’s disease cases. However, evidence suggests that healthy lifestyle choices—such as getting more sleep, exercising, and eating a Mediterranean diet—may help delay or prevent the disease. There is promising but conflicting evidence that other lifestyle choices—such as learning new things, connecting socially, and limiting alcohol intake—may also help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease. However, all of these healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent other chronic health problems.  (Locked) More »

How winter’s chill can challenge your heart

Cold temperatures cause the blood vessels to constrict and the heart to work harder to pump blood against added resistance. This can bring on symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, particularly in people who already have heart disease. Precautions such as dressing warmly and avoiding overexertion in cold weather make good sense for your heart (and overall) health. (Locked) More »

Pill-free ways to lower high blood pressure

Taking medication to treat high blood pressure is just part of the solution. Doctors say lifestyle modification is equally important. Losing weight may lower both systolic and diastolic pressure an average of one point for each pound of weight lost. Getting 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise on most days has the potential to lower systolic blood pressure as much as four to nine points. Other modifications include eating a heart-healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, limiting alcohol, and managing stress. (Locked) More »

When is it okay to split medication in half?

Splitting a pill into two equal halves is sometimes necessary when needing to adjust dosage, or as a means to save money buy purchasing higher-dose pills. However, splitting is not safe for all pills, so a person should always consult a pharmacist or doctor. (Locked) More »