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

5-minute fixes for better health

Focusing on small ways to improve health may feel less daunting to some people than taking on big lifestyle changes. Ideas include doing five-minute bursts of a helpful activity. These include five minutes of exercising, meditating, removing fall hazards in the home, moisturizing the skin, watching an educational video about an unfamiliar subject, calling a friend, throwing out expired medications, removing a junk food item in the pantry, and tossing spoiled foods from the refrigerator. Another suggestion is to get five more minutes of sleep each night. (Locked) More »

Why has my sense of taste changed?

Losing some sense of taste often happens with older age, but you should consider what else might be causing it. Blocked nasal passages from allergies or a sinus infection and even one of your medications might be a factor. Addressing these issues with your doctor, including switching to a different drug, may help. (Locked) More »

Don’t let winter put a chill on your vegetable intake

American women are falling short when it comes to eating the recommended daily amount of vegetables, according to the CDC. Fewer vegetable options and higher prices may make it even less likely that women will get enough during the winter months. Strategies such as trying new varieties and buying frozen vegetables can help women get the recommended amount. (Locked) More »

What to order at the coffee shop

More coffee shops are ditching prepackaged pastries and sandwiches and offering fresh, gourmet food. But some of it comes with whopping amounts of fat, salt, carbohydrates, or sugar, just like any restaurant food. When ordering, one should not focus so much on nutrition details such as carbohydrate and fat counts, and instead make a choice based on the food displays or descriptions. If a food has refined grains (white bread, tortillas, noodles), processed meat (bacon, sausage, ham), or too much cheese, butter, cream, or sugar (like all pastries), it’s not a good choice. (Locked) More »

Which blood pressure number is important?

While both numbers in a blood pressure reading are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, doctors primarily focus on the top number (systolic pressure), as a higher number carries a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. More »