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

Have a ball with exercise

Large, inflatable exercise balls can add more benefits to standard home and gym exercises and are one of the best ways to improve strength in people with specific limitations or who are recovering from an injury. Exercising with a ball also can improve posture and stability and help with daily movements like twisting, bending, and stretching. (Locked) More »

How many steps should I take each day?

Evidence from Harvard suggests that taking 7,500 steps per day is associated with a 40% reduction in risk for an early death, compared with getting less than 3,000 steps per day. Doctors say that makes 7,500 steps per day a good daily activity goal. Regular exercise also reduces the risk for premature death. Doctors recommend moderate exercise—like a brisk walk (at about 3 mph) for 30 minutes, at least five times per week. More »

Is your CPAP machine making you sick?

Using a dirty continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system can lead to illness. Germs can grow in the mask or in the water reservoir in the CPAP pump. Cleaning the CPAP system regularly will help reduce illness risks. The CPAP mask, water chamber, and tubing should be washed with hot, soapy water every morning. The CPAP headgear and filter should be washed once a week. There are also two types of machines that automatically sanitize CPAP components at the touch of a button. (Locked) More »

Know the facts about CBD products

Cannabidiol (CBD), extracted from the cannabis or hemp plant, has been promoted as the latest miracle cure for everything from aches and pains to anxiety and sleep disorders. Yet, the science has not confirmed its many health claims, and CBD products currently are not regulated by the FDA. Until more is known, experts suggest avoiding these over-the-counter and online products. (Locked) More »

LED lights: Are they a cure for your skin woes?

There are an increasing number of LED light devices on the market today. These devices use light to penetrate the skin to treat conditions including aging and acne. But most of the studies on these devices are small, so it’s unclear if they are truly effective. While they are thought to be relatively safe in the short term, long-term data are lacking, so it’s unknown if there are unidentified risks. More »

Preventing seasonal maladies

Older adults are especially susceptible to winter illnesses. This is partly because of a weakened immune system. Common winter illnesses include the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, and stomach bugs. To ward off winter illness, one should get the proper vaccines, wash hands before eating or touching the face, carry hand sanitizer, avoid close contact with people who’re under the weather, and stay away from shared food like potlucks and buffets. More »

Should you get vaccinated against these germs?

When getting a flu shot, it’s a good time to ask one’s doctor about the potential need for other vaccinations. Most older adults are candidates for the shingles, pneumococcal, and hepatitis A vaccines. People born in or after 1957 may need a measles vaccine booster if they received only one shot of measles vaccine when they were younger. These people could still be susceptible to measles, particularly if they’re living in a region in which there is a measles outbreak. (Locked) More »