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

Do I need a shingles vaccine booster?

The shingles vaccine becomes less effective over time, but currently there is no approved booster shot available. To ensure protection at the time of greatest risk, people should get the vaccine at age 60 or older. (Locked) More »

More over-the-counter hearing aids on the way

In August 2017, Congress and the president approved the Over–the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, which gives the FDA three years to establish an over-the-counter hearing aid category and develop safety and labeling rules for the devices. More »

Older adults are drinking more alcohol

Excessive alcohol use among adults ages 65 or older increased significantly between 2001 and 2013. Older adults are at higher risk for disability, illness, and death from many alcohol-related chronic diseases, falls, and injuries. More »

Planning the rest of your life

As we age, the later years of life are likely to be filled with unexpected challenges and important decisions on a number of issues. Planning ahead for the eventualities of medical care and its costs, as well as end-of-life wishes, will make later-life situations easier to navigate. (Locked) More »

Sodium in groceries on the decline

It appears that from 2000 to 2014, the amount of sodium in purchased packaged foods declined from about 2,300 milligrams (mg) per person per day to about 1,900 mg per person per day. More »

Taking too much vitamin D can cloud its benefits and create health risks

In recent years, there has been more research into the role vitamin D plays in the development of chronic diseases. While evidence showing vitamin D as a cause for disease or a means to prevent it is far from conclusive, vitamin D supplements and testing have seen a surge in popularity. It is important to stick to recommended doses, unless a doctor advises otherwise. Taking too much can be harmful. More »

The pursuit of happiness

The Harvard Study on Adult Development, the longest-running study on happiness, has found certain behaviors and lifestyle choices can influence a person’s level of happiness, such as letting go of negative relationships and past failures and maintaining social connections. Participating in other activities like volunteering, joining support groups, exercising, and rediscovering childhood activities also can help increase and maintain levels of happiness. (Locked) More »

Why do I bruise more easily as I age?

Easy bruising is more common for older men due to less fat tissue and more fragile blood vessels. Common medications like blood thinners, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also can increase your risk. Men should see their doctor if they experience unusual or frequent bruising. (Locked) More »