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

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. 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 »

What you can learn from wellderlies

“Wellderlies” is a term to describe a special group of older adults who have reached age 90 to 100 without having any major health issue or disease. If they do get sick, it often happens late in their life, shortly before death. While genes play a key role in their longevity, research has found that they also follow some basic lifestyle principles that anyone can adopt.  (Locked) More »

Another way to think about dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia. It often gets confused with normal aging since symptoms can mirror everyday “senior moments,” like forgetting a name or just-learned information. Several factors put people at a greater risk for vascular dementia, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, being overweight, and smoking. Making lifestyle changes offers the best protection against the condition.  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. More »

Should I stand while I read?

Taking an hourly break from reading a book to walk around or listening to audiobooks while walking can provide the health benefits of book reading without incurring the health risks of prolonged sitting. (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. More »