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

Losing steam? Avoid these energy zappers

Lifestyle habits may be to blame for some daily fatigue. For example, eating too much processed food can increase inflammation, which impairs the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the molecule that delivers energy to cells throughout the body. Getting too little sleep or being too stressed out all the time can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which also reduces production of ATP. Eating a healthy diet, getting more sleep, and reducing stress can reduce fatigue. So can avoiding dehydration, exercising more, and staying socially connected. More »

Should you be taking an omega-3 supplement?

Certain people, including those who don’t eat fish and those who are at high risk for cardiovascular events may benefit from omega-3 supplements. But for the average person it’s better to focus on eating a diet that includes fatty fish. Aim for at least two servings a week. (Locked) More »

The buzz about caffeine and health

For most people, consuming caffeine from coffee, tea, or chocolate poses no serious health risk if taken within safe amounts. Healthy people who have never had a heart attack or currently manage high blood pressure should consume no more than 400 mg per day, which is about the amount in four cups of coffee or 10 cups of black tea. However, people who have had a prior heart attack or have heart disease should keep their dosage to about half that per day. (Locked) More »

Zinc oxide shows no link to skin damage

Zinc oxide (ZO) is one of the most effective ingredients in sunscreen to protect against damaging rays. New research has found that ZO nanoparticles don’t penetrate the skin or damage skin on a cellular level from repeated applications. More »

A noisy problem

Age-related hearing loss is common among older adults and can make people more sensitive to sounds that used to be well tolerated, such as noise from crowds and traffic, which in turn increases stress levels, leads to greater anxiety, and reduces overall quality of life. Reducing your exposure to specific sounds that might trigger negative reactions and wearing filtered earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can offer protection. (Locked) More »

Getting in on the kettlebell craze

Kettlebells are small weights with handles. Using them has many benefits, such as working several muscle groups at one time and helping to improve posture and balance. Along with benefits, kettlebells have numerous risks. For example, lifting too much weight too soon or lifting a kettlebell the wrong way can lead to muscle strains, rotator cuff tears, falls, and more. But kettlebells should be safe for healthy older adults as long as they get a doctor’s okay first, use the appropriate weight, and learn how to use kettlebells from a physical therapist or personal trainer. (Locked) More »

Stretch your exercise plan beyond weights and cardio

Tight muscles can create health risks, making people more prone to chronic pain, balance problems, and even falls. Daily or every other day stretches can help reduce these risks and are a crucial part of a comprehensive exercise program. Stretches don’t need to be intensive to work. Even simple movements that take muscles and joints through a full range of natural motion are helpful. (Locked) More »

The lowdown on squats

One of the best exercises to counter the effects of prolonged sitting is the simple squat, which can be done with just body weight, dumbbells, or against a wall. Squats are a great exercise because they activate so many bones and joints at once, such as the hips, knees, feet, and ankles, as well as muscles like the quads, gluteals, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves. Squats also can help build and maintain a stronger lower body, which makes movement easier and allows people to stay more active. (Locked) More »