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

Can fish oil stave off heart disease?

The question of whether fish oil staves off heart disease is not yet settled. Most available fish oil supplements don’t clearly protect against heart disease. However, eating at least two meals of fish per week does appear to protect against heart disease. (Locked) More »

Can supplements save your sex life?

Most dietary supplements for sexual function haven’t been studied scientifically and may be a waste of money or dangerous for health. The supplements often contain hidden pharmaceutical drugs—like traces of PDE5 inhibitors, medications in the same class that includes prescription erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, and smoking cessation can help boost sexual function without medication. If not, there are medical approaches that can help. More »

Does your face need a workout?

Some publications and online sources have been touting face workouts as way to slim, tighten, and improve the appearance of the face. But there is no hard evidence that these exercises work as advertised. In theory, they may be helpful for certain conditions, but improvements are likely to be small. More »

Don’t be such a stiff

It’s not known why people experience more morning stiffness as they age. Stiffness often occurs after long bouts of inactivity, which is why people feel so stiff when they wake up, since sleeping is when people are inactive for the longest continuous time. Stiffness also can happen after sitting for long periods like when watching TV, working at the computer, having dinner, or riding in a car. Staying active during the day and adopting a morning stretching routine can help prevent stiffness and soreness. (Locked) More »

Medicine cabinet makeover

Experts recommend weeding through one’s medicine cabinet every six months to get rid of expired or unnecessary medications. One should talk to a pharmacist if there’s a question about using a medication beyond its expiration date. When it’s time to dispose of medications, one can participate in drug take-back events held by local law enforcement agencies. (Locked) More »

Retiring? What about your health?

It’s important to consider future health needs when it’s time to select a community for living out the golden years. Look for destinations with access to medical services, nonprofit health services like meal delivery, transportation services, affordable housing options, recreation opportunities, volunteering opportunities, and private-duty services. For example, walkable city centers are getting more consideration as retirement destinations, as are college towns that offer robust learning opportunities or entertainment. One shouldn’t overlook staying in an existing house and community if it meets future needs. More »

What can I do about poor night vision?

Summary: As people age, trouble seeing at night becomes a common issue. Getting an eye exam to update prescriptions and look for common age-related eye problems can help improve vision. More »