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

4 stretches to keep your shoulders in shape

An easy way to stave off shoulder problems is to regularly stretch the muscles that support the joints. Stretching the muscles fixes the shortening that occurs with disuse and extends muscles to their full length. The more one stretches the muscles, the longer and more flexible they’ll become. That will help increase range of motion, ward off pain, reduce the risk for injury, and improve your posture. In order to stretch the muscles, one should warm up the muscles and then hold stretches without moving for 30 seconds to two minutes. More »

Caregiver nation: New tools to manage a family members health as well as your own

There are all kinds of free educational opportunities designed to help family caregivers jump into their roles and better manage their own health. Family caregiver education is available in classes or workshops you attend in person. The Internet offers how-to articles, videos, podcasts, books, and guides for caregivers. Topics range from the basics of caregiving to the more nuanced challenges, such as communicating with a person with dementia. Many classes focus on how to cope as a caregiver and maintain one’s health and wellness. More »

Is your sunscreen safe?

A study found that sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the body, prompting the FDA to recommend further study to ensure that they are safe. In the meantime, people are not advised to change their sunscreen practices. Protecting the skin from the sun should involve not only sunscreen, but also other measures, such as wearing sunglasses, hats, and other protective clothing. (Locked) More »

Skip vitamins, focus on lifestyle to avoid dementia

New guidelines released May 19, 2019, by the World Health Organization recommend a healthy lifestyle—such as keeping weight under control and getting lots of exercise—in order to delay the onset of dementia or slow its progression. More »

Take a stand against heart disease

Almost one-quarter of adults still don’t meet the federal guidelines for physical activity, and chronic sitting may be a major reason. New statistics have found that a vast majority of older adults spend at least two hours a day or even longer sitting. This can lead to weight gain, blood clots in the legs, and is associated with an increased risk for a heart attack and stroke. (Locked) More »

A look at better vision

For many older adults with increasing poor vision who may have cataracts, or get them in the future, lens replacement surgery (LRS) may be a good option, as it addresses both problems. LRS replaces the natural lens in an eye with a synthetic lens called an intraocular lens, which can correct vision problems so a person no longer needs glasses and will not develop cataracts in the future. More »

New thinking on daily food goals

Dietary guidelines have shifted away from daily food goals measured in servings. Instead, they now focus on daily food totals that are measured in cups, ounces, or tablespoons. The daily goals depend on one’s health, sex, and age. For example, for moderately active adults ages 66 or older, men are advised to eat 2,200 calories per day; women are advised to eat 1,800 calories per day. Daily food goals for those diets include 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables, 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit, and 6 to 7 ounces of whole grains. More »

The larger role of micronutrients

Many older men don’t get enough micronutrients from their diet. These vitamins and minerals are needed to support heart health, keep bones strong, and improve the immune system, among other health benefits. Adopting a plant-based diet that features abundant amounts of multicolored foods and trying different styles of cuisines can help people get enough variety in their diet to ensure they receive adequate amounts of vital micronutrients. (Locked) More »

The risk of inactive ingredients in everyday drugs

Inactive ingredients serve many purposes in medications. For example, artificial sweeteners mask a bitter taste, fatty acids help promote the absorption of some drugs, and lactose and other sugars bind ingredients together. But inactive ingredients may also cause adverse reactions, such as an allergic response or gastrointestinal symptoms. It’s best to carefully read a medication’s ingredient list before taking the pill, and consult a doctor if there are any ingredients that are a concern. (Locked) More »