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 major change for daily aspirin therapy

In March 2019, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommended against the routine use of low-dose (81-mg) aspirin in people older than 70 who do not have existing heart disease and haven’t had a stroke, or in people of any age who have an increased risk for bleeding (from a peptic ulcer, for example, with sores on the stomach lining that can bleed). The recommendations were based on three large studies. (Locked) More »

Taking multiple prescriptions can be risky

Taking multiple medications at one time is a common cause of adverse events. This might include dangerous drug interactions or unpleasant side effects. To reduce the likelihood of these problems, people should always be certain that their doctor is aware of all the drugs and supplements they are taking. An online drug interaction checker can help identify dangerous combinations. Automated pillboxes and other technology can help ensure that drugs are taken correctly. (Locked) More »

An older adult's guide to exercising in cold weather

Exercising in cold weather has benefits, but poses numerous risks for older adults. Exposure to cold weather for long periods increases the risk for hypothermia or frostbite. Also, cold weather causes blood vessels to narrow, increasing the risk for heart and muscle strain. To avoid the risks, older adults should wear layers of warm clothing (preferably athletic clothing that wicks away moisture and retains heat), including a hat, gloves, and socks; use sunscreen and lip balm; do an exercise warm-up; and stay hydrated. (Locked) More »

Comfort food without the guilt

To reduce dietary risks of comfort foods, it’s best to swap out unhealthy ingredients with healthier alternatives. For example, one could ditch full-fat dairy products like cream and butter, and instead use nonfat Greek yogurt or skim milk; ditch red meat in favor of poultry, fish, or legumes; ditch salt and use herbs and spices, such as oregano, rosemary, or basil; or ditch refined-grain noodles and use noodles made of whole wheat, black beans, lentils, or zucchini. (Locked) More »

Don't be afraid of statins

While statin therapy helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, many people may still resist them because they fear side effects and do not understand how the drugs work. Yet, for many people, statins are the best way to protect against heart attack and stroke, and may provide additional benefits like reducing the risk of blood clots and protecting against Alzheimer’s. (Locked) More »

Don't give up on grains

Many people are opting for low-carb diets and cutting out grains as a result. But when they do, they might be missing out on the nutritional benefits whole grains can bring. Whole grains are not only nutrient-rich but also contain fiber and cancer-fighting plant chemicals, known as phytochemicals. To eat more, try different varieties, including brown rice, barley, steel-cut oats, and quinoa. (Locked) More »

Is your lunch lacking?

Many Americans are in search of a healthier lunch, according to a study. People reported that it can be difficult to make good choices because they’re not always convenient, tasty, or readily available. More »

The trouble with excess salt

There’s been some disagreement in the scientific community about how much salt in the diet is too much. But most long-term studies show that excess sodium can raise blood pressure in many people and people’s hearts are typically healthier when they eat less sodium. Ideally, people should stick to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. (Locked) More »