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

10 healthy diet staples for your emergency food kit

When crafting an emergency supply of foods, one should avoid convenience foods like frozen dinners and canned soups, which typically contain excessive amounts of salt, fat, calories, preservatives, and added sugars. Better choices are healthy nonperishable items and frozen foods that can be used to make many meals. Experts recommend keeping a supply of a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, canned meats, whole grains, nuts and seeds, milks, healthy fats, soup stock, and seasonings. More »

Adopting a Mediterranean-style diet, one meal at a time

The Mediterranean diet is touted for its health benefits, which include a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and potentially even improvements to the gut bacteria, which may reduce harmful inflammation inside the body. Making some simple changes to your current diet can help improve your health. These include switching to olive oil as the primary fat, eating more whole grains and less processed food and sugar and reducing red meat consumption. Whenever possible, base your daily diet on a base of vegetables, fruits and plant-based options. More »

Boost your ability to lift and carry heavy loads

It’s easier to lift and carry heavy items if one maintains the muscles that help do the job, such as the thigh, gluteal, abdominal, shoulder, and arm muscles. In addition, it helps to follow the rules of safe lifting and carrying. To lift: one should get close to the object and bend the knees slightly, wrap one’s arms around the object, push down with the legs, and stand up straight. To carry: one should hug the object close to the chest to boost stability. More »

Building strength before surgery may ease recovery

Prehabilitation is increasingly being used to ready older or frail adults for surgery, in hopes of hastening the recovery process. This approach uses a combination of strategies including exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle support to help people improve their health before a physically stressful event. Physicians typically tailor these programs to the needs of the individual. More »

High-tech calls for help: Understanding gadget limits

Gadgets that can call for help in an emergency—such as a "smart" speaker, a mobile phone designed for older adults, or an alert button—have limitations. For example, a smart speaker has a limited listening range, and may not hear if someone is calling for help from another room. Smartphones and alert buttons won’t do any good if they aren’t being worn or if they’re not within reach. It’s best to learn about gadget limitations before investing in one. More »

Prepare for prehab

Although there is much emphasis placed on a person’s recovery after a complex medical procedure or surgery, it is equally important to focus on health beforehand. Preparing both the body and mind for an invasive medical procedure can help avoid setbacks, reduce complications, and speed up recovery. More »

Step up your fitness and safety

Falls continue to be a significant cause of fatal injury among older adults. Lack of mobility and declining strength are the main contributors to falls, but an often unrecognized threat is simply the fear of falling. Practicing simple step-ups at home or in the gym can improve balance, lower-body strength, and confidence. More »