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

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 »

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 »

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 causes a cough after a cold?

A persistent cough that remains after an infection has been treated can last for a month or two. There are several treatments that may offer relief, such as antihistamines or a bronchodilator inhaler.  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 »

When is it okay to split medication in half?

Splitting a pill into two equal halves is sometimes necessary when needing to adjust dosage, or as a means to save money buy purchasing higher-dose pills. However, splitting is not safe for all pills, so a person should always consult a pharmacist or doctor. (Locked) More »