What You Can Do to Maintain Your Health from familydoctor.org

A lot of factors play a role in staying healthy. In turn, good health can decrease your risk of developing certain conditions. These include heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and injuries. Learn what you can do to maintain your and your family’s health.

Path to improved health

Eat healthy.

What you eat is closely linked to your health. Balanced nutrition has many benefits. By making healthier food choices, you can prevent or treat some conditions. These include heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. A healthy diet can help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol, as well.

Get regular exercise.

Exercise can help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer. It can help treat depression, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. People who exercise also get injured less often. Routine exercise can make you feel better and keep your weight under control. Try to be active for 30 to 60 minutes about 5 times a week. Remember, any amount of exercise is better than none.

Lose weight if you’re overweight.

Many Americans are overweight. Carrying too much weight increases your risk for several health conditions. These include:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • some cancers
  • gallbladder disease.

Being overweight also can lead to weight-related injuries. A common problem is arthritis in the weight-bearing joints, such as your spine, hips, or knees. There are several things you can try to help you lose weight and keep it off.

Protect your skin.

Sun exposure is linked to skin cancer. This is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It’s best to limit your time spent in the sun. Be sure to wear protective clothing and hats when you are outside. Use sunscreen year-round on exposed skin, like your face and hands. It protects your skin and helps prevent skin cancer. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. It should be at least an SPF 15. Do not sunbathe or use tanning booths.

Practice safe sex.

Safe sex is good for your emotional and physical health. The safest form of sex is between 2 people who only have sex with each other. Use protection to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms are the most effective form of prevention. Talk to your doctor if you need to be tested for STDs.

Don’t smoke or use tobacco.

Smoking and tobacco use are harmful habits. They can cause heart disease and mouth, throat, or lung cancer. They also are leading factors of emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The sooner you quit, the better.

Limit how much alcohol you drink.

Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day. Women should have no more than 1 drink a day. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Too much alcohol can damage your liver. It can cause some cancers, such as throat, liver, or pancreas cancer. Alcohol abuse also contributes to deaths from car wrecks, murders, and suicides.

Things to consider

In addition to the factors listed above, you should make time for whole body health. Visit your doctors for regular checkups. This includes your primary doctor, as well as your dentist and eye doctor. Let your health benefits and preventive care services work for you. Make sure you know what your health insurance plan involves. Preventive care can detect disease or prevent illness before they start. This includes certain doctor visits and screenings.

You need to make time for breast health. Breast cancer is a leading cause of death for women. Men can get breast cancer, too. Talk to your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms. You may need to start screening early if you have risk factors, such as family history. One way to detect breast cancer is to do a monthly self-exam.

Women should get routine pap smears, as well. Women ages 21 to 65 should get tested every 3 years. This may differ if you have certain conditions or have had your cervix removed.

Ask your doctor about other cancer screenings. Adults should get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor may want to check for other types of cancer. This will depend on your risk factors and family history.

Keep a list of current medicines you take. You also should stay up to date on shots, including getting an annual flu shot. Adults need a Td booster every 10 years. Your doctor may substitute it with Tdap. This also protects against whooping cough (pertussis). Women who are pregnant need the Tdap vaccine. People who are in close contact with babies should get it, as well.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How many calories should I eat and how often should I exercise to maintain my current weight?
  • Should I have a yearly physical exam?
  • What types of preventive care does my insurance cover?
  • When should I start getting screened for certain cancers and conditions?

Resources

American Cancer Society, Stay Healthy

National Institute on Aging, Health and Aging

Filling and Healthy Breakfast Ideas from time.com

Feeling meh about your usual a.m. meal? We get it. Mornings can be hectic, and it’s a lot easier to hit repeat and grab a cereal bar rather than take the time to think of something more inspiring.

But you owe it to your taste buds to make a switch. A delicious, healthy breakfast will keep you excited and fulfilled, and that ensures that you’ll actually have that morning meal. You’ve heard it a million times before, but eating breakfast on the regular really does set your energy level for the day and get you closer to your wellness and fitness goals. Steal some inspiration from the ideas below, designed for every breakfast dilemma.

RELATED: 12 Breakfast Recipes You Can Eat for Dinner

If you love a carby breakfast

Cereal, oats and other carb-loaded options can be healthy, and the fuel you score from complex carbs gives you a steady energy boost. But they tend to be low in protein, says nutritionist Lauren Harris-Pincus, author of the Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. “It’s incredibly important to consume enough protein at breakfast to maintain muscle mass and metabolism as we age,” she says. Protein also fills you up, so your appetite doesn’t kick in until lunchtime—another win.

Her suggestion: whisk three tablespoons of whey or plant-based protein powder into milk, then top with cereal and fresh fruit. You can do the same for oatmeal by whisking a few tablespoons of protein powder into ¼ cup of milk and mixing it into cooked oatmeal. The more protein and flavor you pack in there, the more fulfilled your stomach—and your taste buds—will be. Don’t be afraid to experiment, say by adding chocolate protein powder or more exotic fruits.

If you’re not really a breakfast person

Does the thought of a plate stacked with pancakes and sausage in the morning makes you want to gag? Go ahead and have a little bite instead. “Your body is low on energy, and your muscles are breaking down protein,” explains registered dietitian Kathy Siegel, a nutrition communication consultant in the New York City area.

Siegel’s idea is to head to the cottage cheese aisle of the store and pick up a pack of portable half-cup servings. Each contains 13 grams of protein, which helps keep you full and boost muscle synthesis and repair, she says. Top it off with hemp seeds. Three tablespoons of the nutty-tasting seed contain three grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein, as well as minerals iron, zinc and magnesium. Add sliced cherry tomatoes and basil if you want something even more savory.

RELATED: Good Morning, Gorgeous: How to Look Incredibly Well-Rested

If you’re looking to lose weight

First, chug a big glass of H20, says Los Angeles–based registered dietitian Ilana Muhlstein. Not only is water energizing, but it can also help you feel fuller and make more sensible decisions around food, she says. Then, go for a combo of fiber (for sustained energy) and protein (for satiety), which will help you stay on track toward your goals, she says.

A great idea is a veggie egg scramble made with two eggs and veggies of choice (throw in whatever leftover or soon-to-go-bad veggies you have on hand, like kale and mushrooms or peppers and onions). Then, serve it with a big handful of berries. Both raspberries and blackberries contain eight grams of fiber and 60 or so calories per cup, which meets nearly one-third of your daily fiber needs. The sweetness of the berries will satiate your sweet tooth, too.

If you only have five minutes before running out the door

The smoothie does it again. “You can pack in tons of nutrients into an easily digestible breakfast,” says registered dietitian Keri Glassman. It takes five minutes to throw together, but if you don’t have that time in the morning, blend it the night before, put it into a travel cup, grab, and hit the road.

Glassman suggests getting your greens in via a morning smoothie. A powerful one to go with is broccoli rabe, because it offers two grams of fiber per cup, along with antioxidants like eyesight-preserving lutein and 100% of your daily vitamin K, which keeps bones strong. She recommends blending almond milk, almond butter, banana, dates, broccoli rabe, oats, hemp seeds and vanilla.