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 ways to prevent a heart attack

The average age of a first heart attack among men is 65. However, many people don’t take steps to protect themselves. Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is the best way to guard against heart attacks and includes avoiding tobacco, managing cholesterol and blood pressure levels, getting proper sleep, and lowering stress. (Locked) More »

Can scheduled fasting improve your health?

Skipping meals may actually be a good health practice. Intermittent fasting, which refers to limiting food intake to certain hours of the day or even restricting calories on certain days of the week, may bring numerous health benefits, including better cognitive performance, weight loss, and potentially longer life. Consult your doctor first. (Locked) More »

Is it safe to eat fish?

Fish are considered an important part of a healthy diet. And even though fish may contain low levels of toxins or microplastics, doctors still advise eating fish at least twice a week. This is because the benefits of eating fish exceed the risks. Studies involving hundreds of thousands of people over decades have found that people who eat one or two 3-ounce servings of fish per week have a nearly 40% reduction in death from heart disease—the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and other developed nations. (Locked) More »

Which painkiller is safest for you?

It’s best to stay away from, or minimize the use of, the over-the-counter painkillers that can make existing health conditions worse. For example, people who have liver problems or are heavy drinkers shouldn’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can worsen those problems. And people who have heart disease, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, or kidney problems should talk to their doctors before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), or aspirin. (Locked) More »

How much water should you be drinking each day?

For most healthy people, listening to their body’s signals can help ensure that they are drinking enough water to meet their needs. Older adults with memory problems may need assistance in making sure that they are drinking enough, particularly in hot weather or when drinking other liquids that may have a diuretic effect. More »

How to be a mentor

Older adults who serve as a mentor to a child or young adult can not only help someone else, but also improve many aspects of their own health, such as self-esteem, cognitive function, and quality of life, and reduce their risk of loneliness and depression. (Locked) More »

Is intermittent fasting safe for older adults?

However, there isn’t solid evidence about the benefits or how fasting might affect older adults. Fasting risks could include too much weight loss or interference with medication regimens. Anyone thinking of trying intermittent fasting should talk to a doctor about it first, especially if the person already has health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. More »

Rise up for your health

The sit-and-rise move, in which a person sits on the floor with legs crossed or straight out and then stands, is an easy way to gauge current strength, flexibility, and balance and to identify areas that need improvement. (Locked) More »

Try these stretches before you get out of bed

Stretching before one gets out of bed has many benefits. It can release the body’s "feel good" chemicals, lubricate the joints, and help people maintain their range of motion. Before stretching, one should move the muscles a little by flexing the joints. This will help get blood flowing to the muscles and make them more amenable to stretching. Any stretch done in bed should be hold for 30 to 60 seconds if possible, without bouncing. More »