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 tools to help you stand up on your own

Some tools can help people stand up from a seated position. For example, a “couch cane” provides additional support to get up off of a couch. A car grab bar slips into a door latch and acts as an extra support to lean on when exiting or entering a car. Rotating seat cushions help a person swing the legs into standing position. And furniture risers raise the height of a seat, which may also assist someone when standing. The ultimate assistance in getting up from a chair is an automatic electric recliner. More »

A broken back without the fall

Compression fractures of the spine might not have symptoms. However, they could signal trouble on the way. When one vertebra fractures, there’s a high risk that another will. Each fracture brings a slight loss of height and a reduced ability to bend. A number of fractures contribute to a rounding of the back known as dowager’s hump (dorsal kyphosis). The condition significantly increases the risk for disability, as well as difficulty digesting food or breathing. When a compression fracture is discovered, doctors recommend starting treatment for osteoporosis. (Locked) More »

Are there any new vaccines?

Thanks to an apprentice surgeon in the mid-18th century who found a way to prevent smallpox, we have vaccines to help protect us against disease. And scientists continue to look for new vaccines and new ways to deliver them. For example, some researchers are developing skin patches and inhaled aerosols to deliver vaccines, and genetically engineering plants to make vaccines. Work is also under way on vaccines that reduce the damage done by infections people already have, and vaccines against some non-infectious illnesses, such as certain cancers and high blood pressure. (Locked) More »

Can these three steps save 100 million lives?

A worldwide push to lower blood pressure, reduce sodium intake, and stop eating trans fat could delay more than 94 million deaths from cardiovascular disease in the next 25 years, finds a study published online June 10, 2019, by Circulation. More »

Don’t forget your feet

Foot pain can be debilitating. Proper care of the feet, including soaking them regularly to reduce skin infections, examining them for early signs of problems, and doing exercises to strengthen them can help. Shoes are a major cause of foot pain for many people, particularly women. Choosing footwear that fits well and is cushioned and comfortable can help. More »

Food ingredients under the microscope

New technology is allowing scientists to better understand how food ingredients and additives affect the body. Scientists recently found that one additive, propionate, which is used as a preservative in many food products including bread and other baked goods, may trigger an unhealthy surge in blood sugar that can lead to diabetes and obesity. Researchers are doing more studies on the preservative to confirm these initial findings. (Locked) More »

How to adopt a Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet has been touted for its heart- and cancer-fighting abilities, and countless studies have backed up its reputation as one of the world’s healthiest diets. The best way to adopt the Mediterranean diet is add more of its staple foods into every meal as much as possible, so the eating pattern eventually feels like a lifestyle and not a structured, rules-oriented diet. (Locked) More »

Quick-start guide to nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are tiny packages of dense nutrition. They include protein, fiber, healthy fats, and many vitamins and minerals. For example, peanuts and pecans contain lots of B vitamins; almonds are rich in calcium and vitamin E; walnuts have lots of folate, vitamin E, and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid). And all nuts have magnesium. To add more nuts to meals, sprinkle a few into salads, sauces, vegetables, or whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa. Limit nut and seed intake to an ounce or two per day. (Locked) More »

How much sleep do we really need?

Some people need less sleep while others need more, but in general trying to get the recommended amount (seven to nine hours a night for adults, seven to eight for seniors) is probably a prudent choice. (Locked) More »