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

Am I too young for a knee replacement?

Doctors often want to wait until a person is 60 or older to perform knee replacement surgery, because these artificial joints typically only last 15 to 20 years. But some people opt to have the procedure sooner if knee pain is causing significant disability. (Locked) More »

Bounce back from injury

Physical therapists use a variety of recreational and exercise balls to help people cope with injury and pain. Playground balls, about the size of a soccer ball, are often used in knee rehabilitation exercises; they can be squeezed between the knees to build muscle strength. Large exercise balls are used to help strengthen the back and core muscles and to improve balance; one can sit on the ball or lie on top of it while doing an exercise. Small sports balls, such as a golf ball or a lacrosse ball, are used for deep tissue massage. (Locked) More »

Can a tracker or smartphone app help you move more?

A review of randomized controlled trials published online Dec. 21, 2020, by the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that people who use fitness trackers are a little more active each day than people who don’t use fitness trackers. More »

Caregiving during the pandemic

Overseeing care for a loved one who is in a nursing home or an assisted living facility is challenging when phone calls are the primary means of communication. Asking certain questions during a phone call with a loved one—such as whether the person has seen anyone that day or been outside of his or her room—may offer clues. When speaking with staff, it helps to inquire about the loved one’s social contacts, mood, muscle strength, eating and sleeping habits, medication changes, continence, hygiene, and thinking skills. (Locked) More »

Sorting falsehoods from facts

Inaccurate health information is everywhere these days, from conspiracy theories about COVID-19 to unsubstantiated product claims. This includes both misinformation, which is spread by someone who essentially doesn’t know better, and disinformation, which is spread deliberately to promote an agenda. Both mass media and social media are allowing bad information to reach large swaths of people quickly, making it difficult for many people to tell the good from the bad. People can ensure what they’re seeing is accurate by relying on their doctors, public health officials, and other trusted resources. (Locked) More »

The highs and lows of medical cannabis

In recent years, more states have legalized medical cannabis, and more people have turned to it for help, especially older adults. There are different ways to take it, from smoking to eating to applying oil or cream. While the science behind its effectiveness continues to grow, people should consult their doctor and familiarize themselves with their state’s law to determine if medical cannabis is something they should explore. (Locked) More »

The not-so-sweet truth about sugar

Sweeteners come in many varieties, including table sugar, honey, and maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup and agave syrup. But regardless of type, from a biochemical and metabolic standpoint they are all virtually the same. Unfortunately, too much of any type is bad for one’s health. (Locked) More »

Understanding "blood thinners"

So-called blood thinners actually don’t "thin" blood. They are anti-clotting drugs that protect high-risk people from developing potentially dangerous blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. People who may benefit from them include those who have atrial fibrillation or a stent in a blood vessel, or who are immobile after surgery. (Locked) More »

Vitamin D supplements linked to lower risk of advanced cancer

A study published by JAMA Network Open found that people taking vitamin D supplements were less likely to have a cancer that spread from the original tumor site to another part of their body or one that proved fatal. However, this risk reduction was only seen in people who were at a normal weight, not those who were overweight or obese. The study did not find that people who took vitamin D were less likely to develop cancer over all compared with those who did not. More »