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

Preventing driving accidents involving teenagers

Teen drivers need experience behind the wheel to develop their skills, so instead of limiting driving time, parents should set limits on a teen's driving behavior, such as having a nighttime curfew and limiting the number of passengers. More »

Got an ear full? Here's some advice.

Earwax helps keep the ear canal clean, but if it dries out it can clump together and cause a blockage. A few drops of water held in the ear canal for a minute or so will usually dislodge the wax. More »

A Web-based way of tracking your physical activity level

If you want to keep tabs on your activity level and how many calories you're burning without buying a gadget, check out this government Web site: www.choosemyplate.gov It's run by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Why is the USDA in the exercise business? Because the department promulgates nutrition guidelines, and good nutrition necessarily involves energy balance, which means making sure that the amount of calories you're taking in should match the number you're burning — and be less if you are trying to lose weight. So although you can't eat physical activity, it's part of the USDA food pyramid. (Locked) More »

Time for more vitamin D

Vitamin D has been linked to a growing list of health benefits beyond bone strengthening, but many people, particularly seniors, have vitamin D deficiency. Because few foods are rich in the vitamin, taking a supplement is recommended. More »

Anxiety and physical illness

Persistent anxiety can contribute to respiratory disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and heart disease. Treating anxiety with psychotherapy, medications, or a combination can reduce or relieve physiological distress. More »

Brushing up on brushing

Many people think their toothbrushing skills are better than they really are. Tooth brushing tips include brushing for at least two minutes, using a soft brush with bristles of varying heights, and replacing your brush at least every three months. More »

What to do about hemorrhoids

Many people experience the discomfort of hemorrhoids. Often they can be treated effectively with topical products and by eating more fiber. If they persist, surgical options are available. More »

When walking makes your legs hurt

There are other conditions besides arthritis that can make walking difficult and even painful, such as peripheral artery disease, chronic venous insufficiency, lumbar spinal stenosis, and diabetic neuropathy. More »

The dubious practice of detox

Various types of body detoxification processes, such as fast diets and intestinal cleansing, have become popular. Generally there is no medical evidence to support their claims of effectiveness, and there are risks to some of the procedures. More »