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

Aspirin linked to fewer digestive tract cancers

Scientists continue to explore the health benefits vs. risks of aspirin therapy. One new analysis suggests that regularly taking aspirin may protect against several types of digestive tract cancers, such as bowel, stomach, gallbladder, esophageal, pancreatic, and liver cancers. More »

How do I measure exercise intensity?

Many experts recommend monitoring maximum heart rate to gauge exercise intensity. An easy way for people to measure their maximum heart rate is to use formulas based on their age. (Locked) More »

Low calorie, but high risk?

Research on artificial sweeteners has found mixed results. Some studies have associated them with weight gain and an increased risk for diabetes, while others have found potential benefits, including healthier weight. A recent study found a potential reason for the differences. When study subjects consumed a drink containing sucralose (Splenda) alone, they didn’t see any ill effects, but when the drink included a particular carbohydrate and was consumed for 10 days, it resulted in reduced insulin sensitivity, a precursor to diabetes. (Locked) More »

Midlife isn’t too late for stroke prevention

Strokes can be prevented through lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, quitting smoking, losing weight, or eating a healthy diet, even if changes aren’t made until midlife, according to a study by Harvard researchers. Compared with women who didn’t make beneficial lifestyle changes, women who quit smoking, lost weight, or exercised for 30 minutes or more each day had an estimated 25% reduction in stroke risk, and women who ate a healthier diet had an estimated 23% reduction in risk. (Locked) More »

Should you try fasting?

Intermittent fasting means that people avoid food for a designated amount of time each day. One of the most popular approaches is called 16/8. People eat during an eight-hour period—for example from noon to 8 p.m.— followed by 16 hours of fasting, in this case from 8 p.m. until noon the next day, when the pattern repeats. While science does not yet know the long-term benefits of intermittent fasting, initial short-term research has suggested the practice may help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight, among other health benefits. (Locked) More »

Sound check on hearing aids

Approximately one in three people ages 65 to 74 has age-related hearing loss. Research continues to show that people with hearing loss who get fitted for hearing aids tend to be more active. Some science has even suggested wearing hearing aids is linked with fewer cognitive issues and a lower risk of depression and dementia. (Locked) More »

The body’s overlooked defense system

The skin is one of the body’s important defense systems. It keeps moisture in the body and protects the body from toxins in the water or air, ultraviolet rays, and bacteria. In older age, the skin becomes thinner and drier, and it is more prone to tearing and splitting, increasing the risk that germs can get inside the body. Petroleum jelly, creams, oils, and humectants can all help maintain a healthy skin barrier. They are most effective if applied right after hand washing or bathing. More »

Turn your exercise into summer fun

Moving more is a worthy goal, but many people dread exercise. That’s often the case because people assume it means a trip to the gym or a stint on a treadmill. But exercise can take many forms, from gardening to dancing or an evening stroll. The key is to find enjoyable activities; people are often more likely to stick with these over time. (Locked) More »

What’s the healthiest way to brew coffee?

A study published online April 22, 2020, by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that drinking filtered coffee was better for health than drinking unfiltered coffee, particularly for older people. More »