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 drugstore sleep aids safe?

An occasional night of sleeplessness may warrant the use of an over-the-counter sleep medication or a sleep-promoting dietary supplement. Sleep medications that are available over the counter use antihistamines as their main active ingredient. They are generally safe, but there aren’t a lot of data about their long-term use. Dietary supplements that may promote sleep include chamomile, melatonin, and valerian root. There aren’t a lot of data about the safety and effectiveness of chamomile and valerian root. Melatonin can be taken safely for the long term. It is meant to shift the timing of one’s sleep cycle. (Locked) More »

Do I ever need a stress test?

A stress test does not reliably identify people at risk for a heart attack or sudden death and is not recommend for otherwise healthy men. However, it can be used as part of an evaluation if a person has heart disease symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath. (Locked) More »

Getting your five a day

Research has consistently shown that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables per day is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. However, many men have trouble reaching this daily quota. To achieve this goal, it’s best to focus on food quality and adding some fruits and vegetables to every meal and snacks. (Locked) More »

How to sleep through the night

Men tend to spend more time in light sleep as they age, which makes it easier to wake up in the night and harder to fall back to sleep. While men can’t change this new sleep cycle, they can address issues that often disrupt their slumber and interfere with sleep quality. These include sleep apnea, nocturia (waking up to use the bathroom), restless leg syndrome, diet, and poor sleep habits. More »

The pros and cons of root vegetables

Root vegetables—like sweet potatoes, turnips, and parsnips—are often featured in vegetarian cuisines. They are low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. For example, the flesh of a medium baked sweet potato has only 103 calories and enough vitamin A—1,096 micrograms—to meet one’s entire Recommended Dietary Allowance for the day. But most root vegetables are also very high in carbohydrates and should be limited to one serving per day. Easy ways to eat root vegetables: boiled, mashed, baked, roasted with a little olive oil, or tossed into soups and casseroles. (Locked) More »