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

5 ways the Internet can help you boost your health

Online access can help people improve their health. The Internet can be a resource for researching health conditions, symptoms, and treatments; a way to connect socially with friends, family, and even long-lost acquaintances; a means of reaching health care providers through portals; a link to diet and nutrition information, including advice about how to eat healthier; and a helpful exercise resource, with lists and videos of suggested workouts and information about local exercise classes. (Locked) More »

Do financial incentives improve health?

Most large employers now offer financial incentives to employees who make healthy lifestyle changes. There is some evidence that incentives work better when offered to groups of people all challenged to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, rather than on an individual basis. (Locked) More »

Do habits cause your neck pain?

Looking down at a smartphone or laptop for long periods of time can cause neck pain. The position flexes the neck forward and requires the use of neck and shoulder muscles. Over time, this position may strain the muscles to the point of weakness. To relieve pain, it helps to raise a screen closer to eye level and to do neck exercises and stretches. Posture is important, too. Supporting the arms while sitting also helps, since taking pressure off the arms takes pressure off the shoulder muscles. More »

Shopping for sunglasses

People should wear sunglasses whenever they go outdoors. The ideal sunglasses can be inexpensive, but should provide at least 99% protection from ultraviolet radiation, have large wraparound lenses, and be polarized to reduce glare. (Locked) More »

Spice up your dinner with foreign flavors

Trying world cuisines can add taste as well as vitamins and micronutrients to the diet. But the rules of healthy eating apply, no matter what the cuisine. For example, Indian food is known for its aromatic spices and a focus on legumes. However, it also has a lot of creamy sauces, which one should avoid. Vietnamese food is known for a bounty of vegetables. However, some dishes use a lot of fish sauce, which is high in salt. Another way to try other flavors is by using an exotic condiment or spice, such as harissa, chimichurri, or curry powder. (Locked) More »

What you need to know if you’re taking multiple medications

Taking five or more medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, and herbal supplements, is known as polypharmacy. It can be challenging to maintain such a regimen; the potential for drug interactions goes up, and there’s an increased risk for side effects that can lead to emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Tips for success include getting all prescriptions filled at one pharmacy; keeping an up-to-date list that includes what each medication is used for, the proper strength, and dosing instructions; and using a pillbox with multiple compartments, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime.  (Locked) More »

Coming to terms with constipation

Constipation is rarely the symptom of a serious illness but can be triggered by medications or disruptions to one’s daily routine. Increased dietary fiber, regular exercise, and osmotic laxatives that bulk up stools can help alleviate constipation. (Locked) More »