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

Baby boomers: Don’t forget hepatitis C screenings

Despite a 2012 recommendation that all baby boomers get tested for hepatitis C, an analysis of government health surveys suggests that only about 13% of baby boomers had been tested for hepatitis C by 2015, up just one percentage point from 2013. More »

Clean out your pantry, clean up your health

The typical American pantry is loaded with unhealthy foods. Boxed, bagged, canned, and jarred foods are often brimming with refined grains, salt, added sugars, or saturated fat. Rather than risk temptation by keeping processed, unhealthy foods in the pantry, it’s a good idea to swap them for healthier foods. Ideas include swapping refined bread products for whole-grain versions, and trading bottled marinades for homemade spice rubs. Replace treats like cookies with fresh fruit. (Locked) More »

The ears have it

At age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss. Studies have shown that hearing loss can increase a person’s risk of injuries as well as cause everyday communication problems. An ear and hearing exam can help a doctor diagnose a person’s hearing loss, identify possible causes, and determine whether the person needs hearing aids or another type of hearing assistance. More »

The safe way to do yoga for back pain

The mind-body practice of yoga can be a great therapeutic activity to help strengthen back muscles and alleviate low back pain. However, older adults can encounter injuries from yoga, including to their backs, by doing the poses incorrectly. By taking preventive measures, relying on yoga instructors for guidance, and using support tools, people can safely practice yoga as a way to treat and manage back pain. More »

What is a leaky gut?

In recent years, scientists have discovered that the inner lining of the intestine can become leaky, and allow toxins from microbes (and, sometimes, the microbes themselves) to get into the bloodstream. This can cause inflammation. (Locked) More »

When to expect results from a new medication

How quickly a new medication will work depends on how the body absorbs the medication, how the body distributes it, and how the body breaks down or metabolizes it. Some drugs may begin working on the first day, and others may take weeks to kick in. It’s important to track medication use and any changes in symptoms. If a medication does not seem to be working properly, it’s best to talk about it with a doctor or pharmacist. (Locked) More »