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

The secret to an easier allergy season

Pretreating allergies before the season starts will lead to better control of symptoms and may prevent symptoms from showing up. This is partly because some drugs, such as corticosteroid nasal sprays, take a few weeks to become fully effective. It’s also because the reaction to even a few allergens has a snowball effect. Only certain allergy medications should be used in advance, including corticosteroid nasal sprays and antihistamines. But antihistamines can sometimes cause drowsiness, which can lead to falls, so they are not recommended for older adults. More »

How to maintain weight loss

As reported in the Harvard Special Health Report Health Solutions to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, much of the original research on how to maintain weight loss comes from a long-term project known as the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). - The project has been tracking some 10,000 people who have lost weight and successfully kept it off for many years. While evidence can't prove that the approaches these people use are the key to upholding weight loss success, their habits jibe with many recognized strategies to maintain weight. NWCR participants were able to maintain weight loss of at least 30 pounds for at least one year.  Some of their strategies included: More »

Health advice for 2017: Simplify, simplify

Simple approaches are likely to be the most effective in maintaining good health. Experts now advise a healthy eating pattern over counting calories or individual nutrients, walking for exercise, and using soap and water for preventing infections. (Locked) More »

Looking for a few good men

Many research studies are looking for qualified men to participate. Not only can men help with the greater good of advancing medical research, participating in a study gives them an opportunity to prevent or treat common diseases and conditions with the latest medications, supplements, or procedures. (Locked) More »

Online hospital ratings: Are they helpful?

Online hospital reviews can provide helpful information. But the information they provide is sometimes incomplete, conflicting, or confusing. People should review several different online sites and recognize that there is no clear definition of what constitutes ideal hospital care. Hospital rating sites may be most useful in unusual situations in which people are unfamiliar with the available options—for example, if they have recently moved, are traveling, or are advising a loved one from afar. Otherwise, a recommendation from a trusted physician should suffice.  (Locked) More »

Where the worst type of fat is hiding in supermarket foods

Trans fats are found in many processed foods, such as pastries, crackers, breakfast cereal, and soup. But the Nutrition Facts label can show zero trans fat if there is less than half a gram per serving. To detect trans fat in food, one should look at a food’s ingredient list and look for partially hydrogenated oils, which are trans fats. Some foods that contain trans fat may be surprising, such as frozen fish fillets, cappuccino mixes, and even seasoned bread crumbs.  (Locked) More »

Your New Year’s resolution: A gym membership?

One advantage to joining a gym or health club is access to a wide variety of fitness equipment, which may help prevent boredom and make it easier to get a varied yet balanced workout. Many gyms have personal trainers who can design appropriate, safe exercise programs that teach good form and provide motivation.  (Locked) More »