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

6 simple tips to reduce your blood pressure

Many women suddenly found themselves with a diagnosis of high blood pressure when the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association lowered the threshold for high blood pressure to 130/80 from 140/90. Small strategies, such as watching sodium intake and losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce blood pressure. More »

Can vitamin K supplements help protect against heart disease?

Some research has suggested that eating foods rich in vitamin K, which helps the body make blood clotting proteins, can protect against heart disease. However, vitamin K supplements have not shown the same benefit and are not recommended for preventing heart disease. (Locked) More »

Confused about eating soy?

Eating soy may not help your heart, but it won’t hurt your heart. It’s high in polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and it’s low in saturated fat. More »

Digital health tracking: Preventive care or privacy invasion?

Increasing numbers of wireless digital sensors—some implanted in or on the body and some worn like clothing­—are being used to monitor people’s health. There are even digital medications embedded with sensors that can record when pills are ingested. The advances in technology may help diagnose health conditions and prevent emergencies. But there are many concerns about digital monitors and pills, such as privacy, communications failures, and data interpretation. (Locked) More »

Easy ways you can improve indoor air quality

Indoor air quality can suffer during the winter months. For women with a respiratory condition, such as asthma or allergies to mold, dust mites, and other irritants, this can lead to symptoms. Opening windows, using an air purifier, cleaning, and eliminating indoor plants can help reduce exposure. (Locked) More »

Getting stronger despite frailty

Disease, surgery, and Father Time all can make men become frail and weak, which increases their risk of injury and slows recovery. However, there are ways to protect against frailty and even reverse its effects by adopting a multipronged approach of sufficient aerobic workouts, progressive resistance training, balance exercises, and proper nutrition. (Locked) More »

Gut reaction: A limited role for digestive enzyme supplements

Prescription enzyme products can help when natural production is low because of a health condition such as chronic pancreatitis or cystic fibrosis. Likewise, taking an over-the-counter lactase supplement (such as Lactaid or Lactrase) can help manage lactose intolerance, and taking an alpha-galactosidase supplement (such as Beano or Bean Relief) may reduce gas and bloating for people who have a hard time digesting the sugars in beans. But for other common gut problems, like heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome, there is little evidence that nonprescription digestive enzymes are helpful. (Locked) More »