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

Homemade, low-sugar apple cinnamon raisin granola recipe

I love granola, but I don't love the added sugar in most store-bought brands. I set out in search of a recipe that met my strict criteria: Tasty, easy, and no added sugar. Believe it or not, there's quite a few out there, most using applesauce as a binder and sweetener. I tried several, and after some fun (and filling) trial and error, ended up creating my own version. This recipe is extremely easy, flexible, and forgiving. This is a one-bowl deal: throw it all in, mix it all up, bake it altogether. You can interchange the ingredients to create your own preferred combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and spices. And, it doesn't have to be perfect. Got more or less of one ingredient? That's OK, add more or less of another. No need to be exact. Yes, it has sugar, but it's all naturally occurring fruit sugars, no processed added sugars. More »

7 ways to safeguard your feet

Protecting the feet is important to mobility. Ways to do that include inspecting feet daily for potential problems, keeping toenails trim, wearing the right shoes, and avoiding going barefoot. One should also get an annual check-up with a foot and ankle specialist, either an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist or a podiatrist. The expert will often be able to pick up signs of foot trouble early, which is often the key to safe, simple, and effective treatment. (Locked) More »

Does drinking coffee offer health benefits?

Drinking regular coffee is linked with lower rates of diseases and a longer life span, although science still cannot provide solid evidence for its potential benefit. Still, enjoying a daily cup or two does not present any major risks, although a person should be careful about consuming too much caffeine from coffee, as high amounts can lead to acid reflux and a rapid heart rate. (Locked) More »

Medical marijuana: Know the facts

Even though medical marijuana has been approved in 28 states and the District of Columbia, in-depth human-based research is lacking. Some initial research has found it helpful for conditions like pain, glaucoma, and nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, but science is still trying to connect the dots as to how, and if, it works. (Locked) More »

Positive outlook may mean better sleep

People who feel they have more meaning and purpose in life have fewer sleep problems. The connection could work two ways: people who feel good about their lives tend to be more proactive about maintaining good health, which is linked to better sleep, and people who battle issues that lower one’s outlook on life, like depression and heart disease, tend to have more sleeping problems. More »

Avoiding health risks at the farmers’ market

Going to a farmers’ market is a great way to load up on fresh fruits and vegetables. But one should be wary of buying products that may harbor bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Those products include unpasteurized ciders or dairy foods, such as cheese or milk; and perishable homemade goods (sauces or meals), meat, and dairy products that are sold out of a cooler, without being properly refrigerated. After buying your food items, get them home within one to two hours. Once home, put food away as soon as possible. (Locked) More »

Better habits, better brain health

Engaging in healthy lifestyle habits may help protect thinking skills. For example, aerobic exercise helps improve the health of brain tissue by increasing blood flow to the brain and reducing the chances of injury to the brain. Maintaining routine habits of good health—such as getting at least seven hours of sleep per night, managing stress, quitting smoking, and treating underlying conditions—also support brain health. Socializing also has important brain benefits. People who report having more companionship and more emotional support have a lower risk for dementia and stroke. (Locked) More »