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

A broken back without the fall

Compression fractures of the spine might not have symptoms. However, they could signal trouble on the way. When one vertebra fractures, there’s a high risk that another will. Each fracture brings a slight loss of height and a reduced ability to bend. A number of fractures contribute to a rounding of the back known as dowager’s hump (dorsal kyphosis). The condition significantly increases the risk for disability, as well as difficulty digesting food or breathing. When a compression fracture is discovered, doctors recommend starting treatment for osteoporosis. (Locked) More »

Can I change my sleep-wake habits?

People whose sleep cycle is disrupted can reset it by following a simple strategy that includes going to bed at the same time, adjusting their meal times, and moving their exercise to the morning or early afternoon. (Locked) More »

Quick-start guide to nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are tiny packages of dense nutrition. They include protein, fiber, healthy fats, and many vitamins and minerals. For example, peanuts and pecans contain lots of B vitamins; almonds are rich in calcium and vitamin E; walnuts have lots of folate, vitamin E, and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid). And all nuts have magnesium. To add more nuts to meals, sprinkle a few into salads, sauces, vegetables, or whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa. Limit nut and seed intake to an ounce or two per day. (Locked) More »

Red meat, TMAO, and your heart

Researchers are finding that a substance called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), produced when the body digests red meat, is linked to health ills such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. Experts say people with high levels of TMAO in their blood may have double the risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with people who have lower levels. (Locked) More »

Should you get vaccinated against these germs?

When getting a flu shot, it’s a good time to ask one’s doctor about the potential need for other vaccinations. Most older adults are candidates for the shingles, pneumococcal, and hepatitis A vaccines. People born in or after 1957 may need a measles vaccine booster if they received only one shot of measles vaccine when they were younger. These people could still be susceptible to measles, particularly if they’re living in a region in which there is a measles outbreak. (Locked) More »

Strike a pose

The core is made up of several muscle groups and helps with most daily movements of an active lifestyle. The standard sit-up is often the go-to core strengthener, but it targets only a portion of the core musculature, and the bending-forward motion can strain the neck and lower back. In comparison, the simple plank pose is a better core exercise because it activates all the core muscles and doesn’t require extra movements that can cause stress or injury. (Locked) More »