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 nail changes signify a health problem?

Changes in fingernail shape and color are common with age. However, certain changes—such as horizontal lines, nail pitting, and dark ridges beneath the nail—could signal a health issue and should be checked by a doctor. (Locked) More »

Do you need a daily supplement?

About 70% of older adults use a daily supplement—either a daily multivitamin or individual vitamin or mineral. Supplements are helpful for people with diagnosed deficiencies, intestinal absorption problems, or certain medical issues that require higher intake of vitamins and minerals. Yet, for most healthy people, it is best to get required daily vitamins and minerals from food and not a pill. More »

How to get a move on

Women who have been sedentary for years can benefit from an exercise program. But getting started may be a challenge. Often it is a fear of not fitting in or the idea that they are not athletic that prevents them from taking the first step. But charting out a reasonable plan ahead of time can help overcome those barriers. (Locked) More »

Your health through the decades

By age 60, all men tend to get thrown together into the so-called 60-and-older group, even though there are often significant differences between a man who is 65 and one who is 85. Certain lifestyle habits need to be maintained, no matter what a man’s age, such as adopting a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and continuing a regular exercise routine to build strength, flexibility, and cardio fitness. Yet most men also need to place extra attention on certain aspects of their health depending on whether they are in their 60s, 70s, or 80s. (Locked) More »

Are drugstore sleep aids safe?

An occasional night of sleeplessness may warrant the use of an over-the-counter sleep medication or a sleep-promoting dietary supplement. Sleep medications that are available over the counter use antihistamines as their main active ingredient. They are generally safe, but there aren’t a lot of data about their long-term use. Dietary supplements that may promote sleep include chamomile, melatonin, and valerian root. There aren’t a lot of data about the safety and effectiveness of chamomile and valerian root. Melatonin can be taken safely for the long term. It is meant to shift the timing of one’s sleep cycle. (Locked) More »

The pros and cons of root vegetables

Root vegetables—like sweet potatoes, turnips, and parsnips—are often featured in vegetarian cuisines. They are low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. For example, the flesh of a medium baked sweet potato has only 103 calories and enough vitamin A—1,096 micrograms—to meet one’s entire Recommended Dietary Allowance for the day. But most root vegetables are also very high in carbohydrates and should be limited to one serving per day. Easy ways to eat root vegetables: boiled, mashed, baked, roasted with a little olive oil, or tossed into soups and casseroles. (Locked) More »

Treatments for opioid medication addictions

Dr. Wynne Armand talks with Dr. Terry Schraeder about the increase in opiod addictions and shares prevention and treatment methods for those experiencing an addiction to prescription opioid medication. More »