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

Aspirin linked to fewer digestive tract cancers

Scientists continue to explore the health benefits vs. risks of aspirin therapy. One new analysis suggests that regularly taking aspirin may protect against several types of digestive tract cancers, such as bowel, stomach, gallbladder, esophageal, pancreatic, and liver cancers. More »

Giving telemedicine a try

Telemedicine has become an important means of seeing a doctor. A number of steps will help individuals prepare for a virtual visit, such as making a list of questions to ask the doctor; having a family member present to take notes or listen to instructions; and making sure that the home computer, laptop, or smartphone that will be used in the visit is charged and the microphone and camera are working. During a virtual visit, a patient should speak loud enough to be understood by the doctor, and describe symptoms or concerns with as much detail as possible. (Locked) More »

How do I measure exercise intensity?

Many experts recommend monitoring maximum heart rate to gauge exercise intensity. An easy way for people to measure their maximum heart rate is to use formulas based on their age. (Locked) More »

Is it time to consider using medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana use among older adults is increasing, especially to treat insomnia or pain. The term "medical marijuana" refers to either the dried flowers of the unprocessed marijuana plant, which contains hundreds of chemicals; or two specific chemicals of marijuana that are known to have medicinal properties: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produces a high; cannabidiol (CBD) does not produce any sort of high or cognitive impairment. (Locked) More »

Low calorie, but high risk?

Research on artificial sweeteners has found mixed results. Some studies have associated them with weight gain and an increased risk for diabetes, while others have found potential benefits, including healthier weight. A recent study found a potential reason for the differences. When study subjects consumed a drink containing sucralose (Splenda) alone, they didn’t see any ill effects, but when the drink included a particular carbohydrate and was consumed for 10 days, it resulted in reduced insulin sensitivity, a precursor to diabetes. (Locked) More »

Sound check on hearing aids

Approximately one in three people ages 65 to 74 has age-related hearing loss. Research continues to show that people with hearing loss who get fitted for hearing aids tend to be more active. Some science has even suggested wearing hearing aids is linked with fewer cognitive issues and a lower risk of depression and dementia. (Locked) More »

The power of protein

During his lifetime, a man loses about 30% of his muscle mass. Older men can maintain and even regain muscle by combining regular weight training and a proper diet, including adequate amounts of protein. Research suggests that to help counter lost muscle mass, healthy older adults need 1.2 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day. This is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in pounds by 2.2 and then multiplying by 1.2. (Locked) More »

Three moves for better spine health

A strong core can stabilize your spine to help keep your lower back healthy and pain-free. The muscles, ligaments, and nerves surrounding the spine can weaken with age or from an injury, which can make movements like twisting, stretching, lifting, and bending difficult. The "big three" exercises—the curl-up, the side plank, and the bird-dog—can help develop a stable spine by strengthening the entire core musculature, from the abdominals to the whole back. More »

Tips to avoid constipation

There are many ways one can try to avoid constipation. For example, lifestyle remedies may help—such as increasing dietary fiber, getting regular exercise, and drinking three to six cups of water per day. If those approaches don’t work, doctors recommend using fiber supplements, such as psyllium husk (Metamucil), methylcellulose (Citrucel), or wheat dextrin (Benefiber). Another supplement that might help is magnesium. When all strategies fail, it may be time to try over-the-counter medication. One option is an osmotic laxative such as polyethylene glycol (Miralax). (Locked) More »