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

Bit by bit, Americans are eating healthier

Americans appear to be eating higher amounts of high-quality carbohydrates, plant protein, and unsaturated fats. However, much of the American diet still seems to be coming from low-quality carbohydrates. More »

Do vitamin D supplements reduce risk of early death?

While many studies have found that people with very low blood levels of vitamin D have higher rates of early death, there’s no guarantee that raising blood levels of vitamin D can help. A 2019 study in The BMJ found that vitamin D supplements did not reduce early death from all causes, nor from heart and other cardiovascular diseases. However, vitamin D supplements did appear to reduce the risk of early death from cancer by 16%. And there may be other possible benefits from vitamin D supplements. Many studies of this are under way. (Locked) More »

Is it safe to go vegan in older age?

The health benefits of all vegetarian diets are well documented: lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. But it’s unclear if a vegan diet, which excludes all animal products, has even greater health benefits than a less restrictive meatless diet, such as a diet that allows fish or eggs. Few studies compare vegetarian diets. However, it’s clear that the vegan diet carries risks for nutrient deficiency and is so restrictive that it can be difficult to maintain over the long term. More »

Too much vitamin D may harm bones, not help

A new study found that high doses of vitamin D don’t benefit bone health. Bone density didn’t improve any more in people who took 4,000 IU or 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily for three years when compared to people who took a low dose of 400 IU. In fact, study authors said they found that very high amounts may have actually been detrimental to bone health. More »

What to do about the heartburn medication recall

Due to medication recalls, people who take heartburn medication that contains ranitidine are advised to talk to their doctors about whether to keep taking it. One alternative: switching to a similar drug in the same class. More »

Are you drinking too much alcohol?

AUD is the umbrella term for problem drinking, whether from alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. While both are marked by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use, they’re not the same. Alcohol abuse causes significant problems in one’s life at home or at work, but it doesn’t involve physical addiction. Alcohol dependence is different. It’s a physical addiction to alcohol that causes withdrawal symptoms when a person stops drinking. AUD is classified as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the number of symptoms a person exhibits. (Locked) More »

Give your heart health a lift

Cardio exercise may help improve many aspects of heart health, such as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce plaque buildup to improve blood flow, and help maintain a healthy weight. But if people cannot meet the 150 minutes of recommended weekly aerobic activity, new research suggests that weight training for just an hour per week can be just as effective for protecting against heart attacks and strokes. (Locked) More »

How do I get rid of dandruff?

Persistent dandruff may be caused by another medical condition, such as seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, a fungal infection, or eczema. If dandruff doesn’t respond to treatment, it should be checked by a doctor. (Locked) More »

Keep your health habits on track during the holidays

The holiday season is a busy time of year when many people let their good exercise habits and diet slip. Planning ahead for the season can help people stay on track. Some strategies to help maintain good health habits include tracking your fitness and diet, focusing on social connections instead of food and drink at parties, and looking for new, interesting workouts. More »

The kidney stone diet: Not as restrictive as you may think

Harvard doctors say long lists of foods to avoid in order to ward off a second kidney stone are often too restrictive. While it’s important to limit foods high in oxalate, it’s unnecessary to avoid all foods with oxalate. Instead, doctors suggest avoiding foods with more than 75 mg of oxalate per 100-gram serving. Such foods include many nuts, spinach, and rhubarb. Other approaches to avoiding another kidney stone include getting enough dietary calcium, limiting animal protein, and drinking 2 to 3 liters of fluid per day. (Locked) More »