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

Alcohol-related deaths on the rise

The number of alcohol-related deaths in the United States doubled between 1999 and 2017, a change that included an 85% increase in alcohol-related medical emergencies and deaths especially among women. More »

Are artificial sweeteners healthy?

People may consume artificial sweeteners to help with weight loss or to avoid weight gain. Yet research has found that these sugar substitutes could have the opposite effect and promote weight gain. (Locked) More »

How much water should you be drinking each day?

For most healthy people, listening to their body’s signals can help ensure that they are drinking enough water to meet their needs. Older adults with memory problems may need assistance in making sure that they are drinking enough, particularly in hot weather or when drinking other liquids that may have a diuretic effect. (Locked) More »

How to be a mentor

Older adults who serve as a mentor to a child or young adult can not only help someone else, but also improve many aspects of their own health, such as self-esteem, cognitive function, and quality of life, and reduce their risk of loneliness and depression. (Locked) More »

Is intermittent fasting safe for older adults?

However, there isn’t solid evidence about the benefits or how fasting might affect older adults. Fasting risks could include too much weight loss or interference with medication regimens. Anyone thinking of trying intermittent fasting should talk to a doctor about it first, especially if the person already has health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. More »

Rise up for your health

The sit-and-rise move, in which a person sits on the floor with legs crossed or straight out and then stands, is an easy way to gauge current strength, flexibility, and balance and to identify areas that need improvement. (Locked) More »

Should you take a vitamin B12 supplement?

An estimated 3.2% of adults ages 50 or older have very low B12 levels, and up to 20% may have borderline deficiency. Aging is often the cause. Other causes include taking heartburn medications; eating a diet that does not include animal products; weight loss surgery; or autoimmune diseases that attack the stomach lining or gastrointestinal tract. It’s a good idea for older adults to take a B12 supplement of 2.8 micrograms daily to ward off B12 deficiency. People who have very low levels of B12 may need to take a much higher dose or get B12 injections. (Locked) More »

Try these stretches before you get out of bed

Stretching before one gets out of bed has many benefits. It can release the body’s "feel good" chemicals, lubricate the joints, and help people maintain their range of motion. Before stretching, one should move the muscles a little by flexing the joints. This will help get blood flowing to the muscles and make them more amenable to stretching. Any stretch done in bed should be hold for 30 to 60 seconds if possible, without bouncing. More »

Understanding acute and chronic inflammation

Inflammation plays an essential role in healing and injury repair and is an integral part of the way a person’s immune system keeps the body safe and healthy. Some inflammation is good. Too much is often harmful. The goal is to recognize when inflammation is merely doing its job, and when it can potentially cause problems. More »