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

Checking for skin cancer

Adequate sun protection when outside is the best way to protect against skin cancer. Yet, even if you are diligent about sunscreen, wear wide-brim hats and long-sleeve shirts, and stay in the shade whenever possible, it may not be enough. You still need to look for early signs of skin cancer, so you can alert your doctor. A regular skin self-exam is the best way to do this. By checking your skin regularly, you'll learn what is normal for you and can more easily note skin changes and abnormalities that require attention. According to the Harvard Special Health Report Skin Care and Repair, the best time to check your skin is after a shower or bath. Use a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror in a room with plenty of light. Follow these five steps to check yourself from head to toe: More »

5 tools to maintain your mobility

Walking poles, walking sticks, canes, crutches, and walkers can aid balance and mobility. Choosing the right device, having it properly fitted, and learning how to walk with it are keys to using mobility aids successfully. More »

6 ways to stay on your medication plan

Certain strategies can help people stay on their medication regimens. For example, a person should record when a drug is taken, how much is in the dose, and whether there are any new side effects. A person can ask his or her doctor if it’s possible to cut back on the amount of medications being taken, or to simplify dosing to once or twice daily. Other ideas are to use a pillbox and to link the act of taking medications to a daily activity, such as teeth brushing. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Do I really need to floss every day?

The long-term benefits of flossing are still unknown. While new federal guidelines have dropped the recommendation for daily teeth flossing, the American Dental Association and most dentists still endorse the inexpensive and low-risk practice. (Locked) More »

Do not get sold on drug advertising

Prescription drug advertising is a multibillion-dollar industry and a main reason health care costs continue to rise. While the ad’s job is to sell the product, not to help the consumer, men can still use the information as a starting point to talk with their doctor about their health.  More »

Find your exercise fit!

Four basic choices for activity are exercise classes, gym workouts, home workouts, and vigorous work or recreational activity. Understanding the pros and cons of each can help a person select the regimen that will best fit his or her style. For example, going to an exercise class works well for people who like getting out of the house, need instruction, and are comfortable in a group. However, a class may be expensive, or it may not be right for people who feel shy or for people with transportation or scheduling challenges. (Locked) More »

Get cooking at home

Many older men have never developed or have lost touch with basic culinary skills, and thus have gotten used to eating out and becoming dependent on processed and prepared foods. Yet, by learning some basic cooking techniques, older men can make a small number of stable items that can help create healthy, low-calorie, and inexpensive meals at home. (Locked) More »

Help with online health

Research has found that only one in five seniors uses some sort of digital health technology, especially medical and health care websites. Even though access to more medical information can help seniors become more active in maintaining their health and well-being, the barrier of poor website design keeps many from getting what they need. (Locked) More »

What is in a food label? You may be surprised

The FDA is redefining the term “healthy” and working on a definition for “natural” for use on food packaging. The Nutrition Facts box on the back of the package is a more reliable source of information than front-label claims. (Locked) More »