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

Alzheimer’s wake-up call

Research has shown an association between poor sleep and a higher risk of accumulating beta-amyloid protein plaque in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The brain sweeps out excess amyloid proteins during slow-wave sleep, which is the deep sleep phase where memories are consolidated. It is still not clear if improving poor sleep or practicing good sleeping habits can protect against Alzheimer’s. Until more is known, experts suggest paying attention to sleep problems, like insomnia, sleep apnea, and nocturia (which causes people to wake up to use the bathroom). More »

Avoiding health risks at the farmers’ market

Going to a farmers’ market is a great way to load up on fresh fruits and vegetables. But one should be wary of buying products that may harbor bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Those products include unpasteurized ciders or dairy foods, such as cheese or milk; and perishable homemade goods (sauces or meals), meat, and dairy products that are sold out of a cooler, without being properly refrigerated. After buying your food items, get them home within one to two hours. Once home, put food away as soon as possible. (Locked) More »

How much vitamin D should I take?

Scientists don’t have definitive evidence yet about how much vitamin D one should take for good health. There’s general agreement that doses above 4,000 IU daily can be toxic to adults, with lower doses toxic to kids. (Locked) More »

Putting off retirement may benefit your brain, health, and longevity

A later retirement may not only benefit your bank account but can pay dividends when it comes to your health. Research increasingly shows that a later retirement may actually improve your brain health and could extend your life. But it’s important to mention that not all research shows this benefit and some jobs, including those that are stressful or too physically demanding, may actually have the reverse effect. More »

Take advantage of the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

Since it was introduced in 2011 as part of Medicare Part B expansion under the Affordable Care Act, the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) has been gradually gaining in popularity. The AWV is a type of annual visit that is designed to address health risks and needs of aging adults and to provide time for the patient to have an in-depth conversation with the doctor to plan for a healthy future. (Locked) More »

Ways to stay sharp behind the wheel

Many aspects of aging affect the ability to drive, such as poor vision, hearing impairment, loss of muscle mass, and changes in thinking skills. Addressing underlying health conditions and getting an evaluation from a driver assessment program can help older adults improve weaknesses in driving. Other tips to stay safer behind the wheel include cutting down on driving distractions, such as cellphones, loud music, or chatter; limiting exposure to busy traffic, and avoiding driving in bad weather. (Locked) More »