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

7 reasons why you may need a medication check-up

It’s important to have a doctor look over one’s medication regimen frequently. This is because things can change in between doctor visits, and adjustments may need to be made. Reasons why that might occur include taking a lot of pills, which can increase the risk of error or adverse drug interactions; taking over-the-counter medications without a doctor’s supervision; or experiencing medication side effects. One should also see a primary care doctor two weeks after discharge from a hospital, to see how any new medications are working. (Locked) More »

Can this DNA test help predict your longevity?

Telomeres are strands of expendable DNA that form protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres protect chromosomes from shortening when a cell divides. Telomeres are damaged each time a cell divides and tend to shorten as a person ages. Commercial telomere tests promise to reveal a person’s telomere length and uncover a person’s true biological age. But it’s unclear if the tests are accurate and what a person’s telomere length actually means for health or longevity. (Locked) More »

Salad greens: Getting the most bang for the bite

Most salad greens contain essential dietary nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and even water. Some of the most nutritious greens include spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce. But some greens, like iceberg lettuce, aren’t nutrient powerhouses. They don’t have to be avoided, but it’s best to mix them with more nutritious greens. About two cups of greens is the equivalent of a one-cup serving of vegetables. The USDA recommends two cups of vegetables per day for women ages 51 or older, and two-and-one-half cups per day for men ages 51 or older. (Locked) More »

Staving off dementia when you have mild cognitive impairment

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) progresses to full-blown dementia about 15% of the time among people 65 or older, and more frequently when a neurodegenerative disease (like Alzheimer’s) causes it. In that case, there are no medicines to stop this progression. However, some research suggests that a combination of healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercise and a healthy diet, may delay progression. When MCI is caused by an underlying condition, such as sleep deprivation, it may be possible to reverse it. (Locked) More »

The surprising side effects from using technology

Using electronic devices, such as smartphones and computers, can lead to joint pain. Frequent texting can cause strain or overuse injuries of the tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb (a condition called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis). Pushing buttons too hard can lead to inflammation around the tendons and pulleys that bend the fingers, increasing the risk for trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis). Typing can worsen carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Looking down at devices for long periods can lead to neck pain. Pain relief may come with rest and changing the way one uses electronic devices. (Locked) More »

Why am I losing weight?

Unexplained weight loss should be investigated. It may be caused by an overactive thyroid, cancer, or a chronic infection. (Locked) More »