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

Setting the stage for sounder sleep

Older people get less sleep than younger people, probably because they wake frequently and for longer periods during the night. To minimize wakefulness, follow bedtime rituals and schedules, make the bedroom quiet and comfortable, and avoid bright light, especially blue light from electronic devices. (Locked) More »

What to do when medication makes you constipated

Many medications can contribute to constipation. Common offenders include antidepressants, opioids, calcium-channel blockers, and anticholinergics. Older adults can be more susceptible to the constipation side effect of medications. Constipation symptoms include having bowel movements fewer than three times a week; having hard or small, lumpy stools; having stools that are hard to pass; straining; having painful bowel movements; or having the sensation of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement. Long-term treatment options include prescription medications, over-the-counter remedies, fiber supplements, and an increase in dietary fiber. More »

Understanding the risks of supplements and herbal remedies for prostate cancer

Coping with prostate disease is never easy. You may find that established treatments are not always particularly effective and you may want to try other more natural methods for prostate cancer, such as herbs and supplements. But you should use them with caution, and always check with your doctor before taking any new type of medication. An estimated one-third of American men with prostate cancer use at least one form of complementary medicine therapy, including herbs and supplements. Some studies have suggested herbs and supplements might help with prostate cancer treatment and support. But the main concern is that some herbs and supplements can interact with each other, or with your prescribed medications. For example, they may enhance the effects of some medications or negate any benefit. More »

Getting a start on growing stronger

Strength and power training can slow muscle loss and can also help prevent or control arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis and improve cognitive function. The exercises described can be performed at home with minimal equipment. (Locked) More »

Tennis, anyone?

People who play tennis a few times a week may lower their chances of dying of heart disease or a stroke compared with inactive people. Tennis provides an upper- and lower-body workout, as well as intermittent, high-intensity activity, both of which are thought to be good for the heart. Tennis playing also has been linked to other factors associated with heart health, including a lower body-fat percentage and more favorable cholesterol levels. Finally, the game encourages mindfulness and strengthens social ties, which may lower stress levels. (Locked) More »

A quick-start guide to the latest food terminology

New terminology describing how foods are produced can be confusing, and doesn’t always indicate if a food is better for health. For example, non-GMO foods contain no genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But it’s heavily debated whether use of GMOs alters the nutritional quality of food or poses a threat to health. It’s helpful to learn the meaning of such terms such as non-GMO, grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, pasture-raised chickens, and wild-caught salmon. (Locked) More »

Choosing a senior living community

Choosing a senior living community for yourself or a loved one can feel overwhelming. There are many options for long-term care available, and it may be difficult to know what will best suit your needs. Doing some research is a good first step. And you'll need to arm yourself with a list of questions to ask senior living communities. Among the questions to ask senior living communities, one of the first should be about the level of care you or a loved one needs. The options boil down to three levels:  Safety and quality of care are also important to list among questions to asksenior living communities. There are many rules and regulations that retirement facilities must follow. A good way to check on nursing home safety and quality is by visiting www.medicare.gov.  More »

In a slump? Fix your posture

Most changes in posture are a result of bad habits, such as sitting hunched over and not standing correctly. Over time, these habits can create muscle weakness and imbalances that can trigger spasms and place stress on the neck, low back, and shoulders. More »