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

Are you prepared for a medical emergency?

To prepare for a medical emergency, it is helpful to have quick access to important information. This includes one’s advance directive, as well lists of all medications and supplements, emergency contacts, and health care providers. This information can be contained on a flash drive or put in a bag that’s kept in a handy place in the house. It’s also important to talk to a loved one in advance about how you’d like to be taken care of in a medical emergency. (Locked) More »

Do generic drugs compromise on quality?

Generic drugs are sometimes viewed as inferior to the brand-name version. But studies show that they are typically the same quality, just as effective, and less expensive. While some research has shown more side effects with generics, that finding appears to be the exception, not the rule. (Locked) More »

Protect yourself from medication mix-ups

Research shows that medication errors can lead to hospitalizations and health problems. People can avoid these problems by understanding what drugs they are taking and why. Clear communication with doctors and pharmacists can further prevent dangerous medication missteps. (Locked) More »

The right plant-based diet for you

Following a plant-based diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. But not all plant-based diets are the same. Most emphasize certain foods with heart benefits, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and healthy oils like olive oil. However, some plant foods, such as fruit juices, refined grains like white pasta and white rice, processed breads and cereals, and potatoes can have a harmful effect. The goal is to emphasize heart-healthy plants and switch out unhealthy plant foods as well as animal foods. More »

What to look for in a home treadmill

Home treadmill options are varied. Harvard experts recommend shopping for a home treadmill with a strong motor, a deck long enough for your stride, a sturdy frame and side rails, an emergency stop button, gauges that are easy to read, and buttons that are easy to use. Other options to consider include a built-in TV screen and compatibility with heart rate monitors. A person should try out a treadmill before buying it and make sure the treadmill comes with a warranty that includes servicing the motor. (Locked) More »

When is body temperature too low?

Older adults tend to have lower body temperatures—an average of 97.7° F. While this is not cause for alarm, they should be mindful about prolonged exposure to cold environments and even the slightest fever. (Locked) More »