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

Be ready for emergencies

New data from the National Poll on Healthy Aging show that most adults ages 50 to 80 are ill prepared for severe weather, long-term power outages, or other emergency situations. Taking action now, including creating an emergency at-home kit and preparing for possible health needs, can avoid stress, expenses, and risks if an emergency happens. (Locked) More »

Can you explain the red meat debate?

While a recent study claimed that people shouldn't worry about how much red and processed meat they eat, its credibility is questionable, and it is still prudent to eat these foods sparingly. (Locked) More »

Helpful or harmful? Weighing last resorts before knee surgery

When trying to avoid surgery for knee osteoarthritis, one must be wary of certain treatments to relieve pain. Some treatments are ineffective or potentially dangerous, such as prolotherapy or ozone injections, stem cell treatments, and implanted shock absorbers. Other treatments—such as acupuncture or platelet-rich plasma injections—might work, but the evidence is mixed. Steroid or hyaluronic injections can provide pain relief. But the safest and most proven approaches for treating knee osteoarthritis are weight loss and muscle strengthening. More »

Hidden dental dangers that may threaten your whole body

It’s hard for older adults to maintain good oral health. That may be because of declines in other abilities, age-related physical changes in the mouth, or chronic health conditions. The result is that older adults have an increased risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Steps that can help ward off those problems include brushing the teeth twice a day, flossing, using an interdental brush to remove debris in the teeth, using a prescription fluoride toothpaste or mouth rinse, and getting regular teeth cleanings. (Locked) More »

How can I protect myself from getting the common cold?

The common cold is most often spread by direct contact with the respiratory secretions of someone who is infected, usually through hand-to-hand contact or touching contaminated surfaces. Washing hands frequently and avoiding people who are sick are the best ways to prevent catching or spreading a cold. (Locked) More »

What to do about incidental findings

Medical imaging can reveal unexpected anomalies. An incidental finding might be a nodule or tumor (abnormal growths that may be benign or malignant) or a cyst (a fluid-filled or debris-filled sac). For example, the doctor may order a chest x-ray in a person with a bad cough to look for pneumonia, but the radiologist finds nodules instead. Such incidental findings can lead to more testing, more medical bills, and a great deal of anxiety. (Locked) More »

Why you need an annual wellness visit

The annual wellness visit, also called a preventive health visit, offers valuable insight for the doctor and patient. For many people, this is the only chance to have an in-depth conversation about their health, address concerns, look at preventive measures, and create health goals and expectations. (Locked) More »

Boost your activity level in small bites

A new strategy called high-intensity incidental physical activity, or HIIPA for short, can help boost fitness, especially in individuals who are sedentary. The strategy encourages people to incorporate short bursts of moderately challenging regular activities—such as climbing the stairs, heavy cleaning, or walking from a more distant parking space to an entrance—to boost fitness. It builds on the concept of high-intensity interval training, but also adopts new information that shows activity doesn’t necessarily need to be formal exercise to count toward fitness goals. (Locked) More »

Is plastic a threat to your health?

A number of chemicals in plastics may be harmful to long-term health. They may potentially reduce fertility. People are sometimes exposed to these chemicals when plastics come into contact with the foods that they eat. Microwaving foods in plastic containers can cause more chemicals to leach into food, raising exposure. To reduce exposure, people should avoid microwaving food in plastic containers and purchase food with minimal packaging whenever possible. (Locked) More »