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

3 trends worth tapping into

There is increasing evidence that three trends—wearing an activity tracker, shopping at farmers’ markets, and practicing mindfulness—can have long-lasting health benefits. (Locked) More »

Cutting calories offers benefits for normal and overweight adults

 Reducing daily calorie intake by 25% may improve health-related quality of life even in people who are not overweight, according to a new study. After two years following a specific diet plan, subjects lost an average of 16.7 pounds, compared with less than a pound in control subjects. They also had better mood, less tension, greater general health, higher sexual drive, and better quality of sleep.  More »

Feel the beat

Measuring resting heart rate (RHR)—the number of heartbeats per minute while at rest—provides a real-time snapshot of heart muscle function. When considered in the context of other markers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, RHR can be used to identify potential health problems before they manifest as well as gauge a person’s current heart health.  (Locked) More »

Are there any advantages to human growth hormone?

The hype around human growth hormone (HGH) comes from a few studies that showed HGH injections can increase lean body mass and shrink body fat, which led to claims of HGH as an “anti-aging” hormone. Yet, the benefits of HGH supplementation for older adults are unproven, and there are concerns about potential side effects. (Locked) More »

Clogged arteries in the gut?

Just like the arteries that supply blood to the heart, arteries in the intestines can become clogged with cholesterol-filled plaque. Known as intestinal angina, the condition is marked by pain that occurs about 30 minutes after eating and lasts one to two hours. This uncommon problem is more prevalent in women, particularly current or former smokers. People with intestinal angina often develop “food fear,” which causes them to lose substantial amounts of weight. Treatment involves restoring blood flow to the intestines, usually by threading a catheter through a vessel to the blockage and inserting a tiny mesh tube (stent) to prop open the artery.  (Locked) More »

Danger from unneeded defibrillation?

Using an automated external defibrillator or AED on a person in cardiac arrest delivers a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm. These devices provide step-by-step instructions and include safety features that prevent the delivery of unneeded shocks.  (Locked) More »

Is an underlying condition causing your fuzzy thinking?

Underlying conditions are often overlooked as causes of thinking impairment. Common causes of fuzzy thinking include obstructive sleep apnea, medication side effects, an underactive thyroid, low levels of vitamin B12, or anxiety and depression. Treating an underlying condition can often resolve fuzzy thinking. If not, a visit to a neuropsychologist may be necessary. Other ways to improve clarity include eating a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet; exercising; and getting more sleep. (Locked) More »

Understanding empty calories

When a food provides primarily calories, and little else of value to health, that food is sometimes described as having empty calories. (Locked) More »