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 tips to help you stay safe during medical treatment

Medical errors are less common than they used to be, but they still happen. Medication errors are particularly problematic. Being knowledgeable about medications, asking questions, and speaking up when something doesn’t sound right can help prevent many of these mistakes. (Locked) More »

Big advances for dental implants

Advances in dentistry are enabling more people with low jawbone volume to consider dental implants. Advances include smaller "mini" implants that are about half the width of regular dental implants and technology that gives dentists the ability to place implants with greater precision. The improved technology has several additional benefits, including faster, safer procedures and less invasive surgery. Mini implants are also used to anchor fixed dentures. A mini implant ranges in cost from $2,000 to $6,000 per implant. (Locked) More »

Conquer your fear of dietary fat

For decades, high intake of fat was thought to cause weight gain, heart disease, and maybe even cancer. The solution? Go low-fat, which often meant consuming more carbs and more sugar. But nutritionists now suggest people actually need adequate amounts of "good" unsaturated fat, and less "bad" saturated fat, for optimal health. Following popular heart-healthy diets, like the Mediterranean and MIND diets, and making simple dietary changes can help people get adequate amounts of good fats. (Locked) More »

Feed your gut

Some fermented foods contain probiotics, beneficial microorganisms that can live in your intestines. These microorganisms help you stay healthy, potentially improving your immune function and reducing damaging inflammation. Eating prebiotics—high-fiber foods that are a source of nutrition for these healthful microorganisms—is essential to help these beneficial microorganisms grow and thrive. More »

Imaging overload: How many tests are too many?

The concern about radiation exposure is an increased risk for developing cancer later in life. Ionizing radiation from tests such as x-rays or CT scans have the potential to damage tissue in the body, including cell DNA. Getting a diagnostic test once in a while is likely to provide crucial information to guide treatment, and it isn’t believed to pose much of a cancer risk. But frequent diagnostic testing may slightly increase cancer risk and should be weighed carefully. (Locked) More »

Seeing your way to better eye health

Your eyes undergo natural changes that affect your vision as you age, but you are also more likely to develop eye diseases that may threaten your vision. These include age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. Women are more likely than men to develop age-related eye diseases, partially because they live longer. Getting regular vision care and following a healthy lifestyle can help ensure that your vision remains intact. More »

The best core exercises for older adults

The best exercises for core muscles are the ones that strengthen several core muscle groups at the same time. Examples of these exercises are bridges and planks. Sit-ups and crunches have fallen out of favor because they strengthen only a few muscles and because they pose risks for older adults from pulling on the neck. Experts recommend that people first beginning a core-strengthening routine start out slowly, focusing on the quality of the exercise and gradually increasing the number of repetitions in subsequent workouts. More »