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

Don’t let winter put a chill on your vegetable intake

American women are falling short when it comes to eating the recommended daily amount of vegetables, according to the CDC. Fewer vegetable options and higher prices may make it even less likely that women will get enough during the winter months. Strategies such as trying new varieties and buying frozen vegetables can help women get the recommended amount. (Locked) More »

Setting up a home gym

Regular strength training can help older men slow muscle loss and even increase muscle mass into their 90s. One challenge they face is finding the time and place to exercise. Joining a gym or enlisting a personal trainer can help maintain regular workouts, but for those who cannot make it to the gym or afford a trainer or gym fees, setting up a home gym is a great alternative. (Locked) More »

Stop making these common workout mistakes

It’s common to make mistakes when exercising. But the consequences can affect health. For example, skipping a warm-up, lifting too much weight, or strengthening the same muscle groups daily can lead to muscle injury. It’s better to warm up for a few minutes before a workout, use lighter weights and lift them more times, and alternate which muscle groups get a workout (such as arms and shoulders on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but not Mondays or Wednesdays). Other common exercise mistakes include failing to drink enough water and keeping an inconsistent workout schedule. More »

What to order at the coffee shop

More coffee shops are ditching prepackaged pastries and sandwiches and offering fresh, gourmet food. But some of it comes with whopping amounts of fat, salt, carbohydrates, or sugar, just like any restaurant food. When ordering, one should not focus so much on nutrition details such as carbohydrate and fat counts, and instead make a choice based on the food displays or descriptions. If a food has refined grains (white bread, tortillas, noodles), processed meat (bacon, sausage, ham), or too much cheese, butter, cream, or sugar (like all pastries), it’s not a good choice. (Locked) More »

Which blood pressure number is important?

While both numbers in a blood pressure reading are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, doctors primarily focus on the top number (systolic pressure), as a higher number carries a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. More »