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

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 »

Men: Stand up and protect yourself from the risk of osteoporosis

Don't think men need to worry about osteoporosis? Think again. Older men have a greater risk of osteoporosis-related fractures than of getting prostate cancer. In fact, about one in four men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis during their lifetime, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. How can men protect themselves and lower their risk of osteoporosis? Here are some strategies: More »

Tips for taking diuretic medications

Diuretics, commonly called "water pills," are the oldest and least expensive class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. They help the kidneys eliminate sodium and water from the body. This process decreases blood volume, so the heart has less to pump with each beat, which in turn lowers blood pressure. People with heart failure, who often gain weight because their bodies hold onto excess fluid (a condition called edema), are often prescribed diuretic medications.  Not surprisingly, one of the most common side effects of taking water pills is frequent urination. Other possible side effects include lightheadedness, fatigue, diarrhea or constipation, and muscle cramps. Men may occasionally experience erectile dysfunction. In addition to getting rid of extra salt in your body, diuretic medications also affect levels of potassium. This mineral plays a key role in controlling blood pressure, as well as nerve and muscle function. In general, your kidneys help regulate potassium levels in your blood. But age, diabetes, heart failure, and certain other conditions may impair kidney function. And while some water pills tend to lower potassium levels, others have the opposite effect. 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 »

How winter’s chill can challenge your heart

Cold temperatures cause the blood vessels to constrict and the heart to work harder to pump blood against added resistance. This can bring on symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, particularly in people who already have heart disease. Precautions such as dressing warmly and avoiding overexertion in cold weather make good sense for your heart (and overall) health. (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 »

Pill-free ways to lower high blood pressure

Taking medication to treat high blood pressure is just part of the solution. Doctors say lifestyle modification is equally important. Losing weight may lower both systolic and diastolic pressure an average of one point for each pound of weight lost. Getting 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise on most days has the potential to lower systolic blood pressure as much as four to nine points. Other modifications include eating a heart-healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, limiting alcohol, and managing stress. (Locked) More »

What clinical trials can do for you

Participating in an observational study or a controlled clinical trial may involve a time commitment and some risks. However, doing so may provide health benefit and contribute to medical knowledge.  (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 »