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 plan for flexibility

As people age, flexibility enables them to active, perform everyday movements, and avoid injuries. Still, most would admit they lack flexibility and that they don’t give it the necessary attention. Flexibility is something that most older people can improve with some effort and commitment. A simple set of three stretches, done regularly, can improve flexibility in the common problem areas of the backs of the thighs, the hips, and the chest. More »

Can you supercharge the Mediterranean diet?

A Mediterranean diet featuring plant-based proteins is associated with more weight loss and steeper declines in cholesterol, insulin resistance, and inflammation markers than a Mediterranean diet with more animal-based proteins. More »

Eat smart

The right diet may help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Eating foods included in the DASH and Mediterranean diets helps maintain brain health by keeping blood flowing efficiently and reducing the damaging effects of inflammation. Some good foods to add to your diet are fatty fish, berries, plant oils, nuts, and coffee. More »

Music to your health

A favorite tune can stir up positive memories, boost mood, and create a soothing, relaxing atmosphere. Now science has found that listening to music can stimulate brain regions that change how people think and move. Used in specific ways, music can help people in various health-related areas, such as improving exercise performance, sleeping better, and coping with medical procedures. More »

Statin side effect could be due to the "nocebo" effect

People who avoid statins because of previous side effects may have experienced what’s called a "nocebo" effect, where they develop an unpleasant response because they expect something negative to happen, not due to the drug itself. Many such people can safely resume statin medications. More »

Tai chi or yoga? 4 important differences

Tai chi and yoga are gentle exercises that share a long list of benefits, such as pain reduction and improved balance, flexibility, strength, mobility, mood, quality of life, range of motion, reflexes, and thinking skills. But the exercises have subtle differences. For example, tai chi consists mostly of flowing movements, while yoga has mostly static poses. And tai chi is typically performed while standing; yoga may be performed while standing, lying down, sitting on the floor, or kneeling on all fours. Choosing one over the other often comes down to personal preference and practical considerations. More »

The good side of bacteria

Probiotics are good bacteria that keep the gut healthy and help fight infections and inflammation. Some research suggests that certain probiotics help relieve symptoms of gut-related conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Fermented foods are the best sources of probiotics, such as yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread. More »

Try this move for better core strength

Strengthening your core using plank exercises can help ease back pain. The plank position is essentially the high part of a push-up. People who can’t hold this position can try a modified version by bending their knees and resting them on the ground. Build strength by practicing holding a plank for as long as you can, and then progressively working to hold it for longer each time. More »