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Protecting Your Health

Protecting Your Health

Keeping fit is a gift that only you can give yourself. This gift will pay you back as you get older and your body will be able to age gracefully. Health woes – even minor ones like a common cold – can impede you from feeling like you’re living a fulfilled life.


Health issues run the gamut – from small energy zappers to major crisis and hospitalization events that can bring you to your knees. It’s important that you get informed and give yourself the ammunition you need to fight disease and wake up feeling physically healthy each and every day.


Nutrition and Exercise


Though there are many ways that suggest you can keep fit by various fad options, the best way to stay fit and healthy is by eating the right foods and exercising.


When you eat right, you give your body the nutrients that it needs to perform all of the daily tasks that it needs to carry out. Plus, the food choices that you make can help you fight against diseases and other medical conditions that run in your family.


You want to be informed and know your family’s health history and then learn about the foods that can fight certain conditions. If something is a genetic cause for concern, it can pay off to feed your body the fuel it needs to fight back.


When you eat, you want to choose complex carbs - because these don’t break down as fast in your body as simple carbs do. You end up getting more nutrients and you stay fuller for longer periods of time.


This helps eliminate the desire to snack in between meals. When you eat, you want to limit your white flour foods - such as white bread and white pastas. Choose whole grain-based foods such as whole wheat as a replacement.


Switch fatty meats at mealtime with lean meats like poultry and fish. Fatty foods in any of the food groups are foods that contribute to a host of diseases - including heart disease.


You have to have some fats in your diet, but you want to omit the wrong kind of fat. You’ll usually find these foods loaded with saturated fats - which is the worst kind of fat that you can eat.


This kind of fat makes your cholesterol count rise, which in turn can lead to health complications over time. If it’s solid at room temperature, it’s usually a saturated fat – and you can picture it clogging your arteries over time and blocking healthy blood flow.


Not all fats are bad for you! Healthy fats are things like:


·         Avocadoes

·         Olive Oil

·         Nuts and Seeds

·         Oily Fish


In fact, these food items are what help you feel full and keep hunger pangs at bay. Dr. Joan Sabate from Loma Linda University said that in one study, they found that avocadoes help regulate blood sugar and kept study participants from crashing and feeling hungry shortly after their meals, so this kind of fat, can actually help you lose fat!


Foods that give your body a heart-healthy boost are foods that are rich in Omega 3 fats. Omega 3 rich foods are foods like salmon and walnuts. They’re a natural anti-inflammatory solution and can help with people who feel depressed or feel like their thinking is cloudy or foggy.


Other good Omega 3 foods include:


·         Flax Seed

·         Tofu

·         Brussels Sprouts

·         Squash

·         Shrimp

·         Cauliflower


Antioxidants help keep cancer from developing in your body. It may not prevent it completely, but they’re called “Superfoods” for a reason – they help inhibit cancer cell growth within your body, and help you live a long, healthier life.


Some top antioxidant foods are:


·         Berries – blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries

·         Beans (kidney, for example)

·         Artichokes

·         Apples

·         Pecans


There is a long list of foods that give your body all kinds of health benefits. These so-called superfoods can do so much good for your body in helping you stay regular and remove the toxins from your body.


Some fiber-filled foods include bran, beans, peas, raisins, okra, sauerkraut, pomegranates, blueberries, apples, cauliflower and strawberries. Eat regular servings of these foods and you will be helping your body stay clean and fit.


Other foods can give you stronger bones. Foods such as prunes and spinach can do that. You want to start contributing to your bone strength early on, not when you’re already middle aged and beyond.


Some other bone-healthy foods are:


·         Dairy – milk, yogurt, cheese

·         Eggs

·         Fish – sardines, salmon, tuna

·         Collard greens


You want to periodically detox your body with good nutrition. Not only does a good detox help you physically, but it provides mental clarity, too. Brussels sprouts are a detoxifying food. Some others include:


·         Foods that have selenium to remove mercury from your system. This includes Brazil nuts, eggs, mushrooms, onions, grains and chicken


·         Foods rich in Vitamin C to help rid your body of waste. You already know about organs, but you can also include bell peppers, papaya, and broccoli to your detox shopping list!


·         Foods that have plenty of beta carotene. This is what helps your liver function better, and the liver is what filters the waste in your body, so you want it tuned up for maximum performance. Beta carotene foods include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, squash, and greens (collards, spinach, etc.).


·         Foods that have plenty of amino acids in them, to strengthen and help with liver performance. This includes meat, fish, chicken, eggs, grains, beans, and cheese.


If you’re having trouble with being bloated, have some asparagus because it helps with that.  Celery is another good one, as are:


·         Beans

·         Watermelon

·         Yogurt

·         Bananas


If part of your fitness goal is to lose some weight, make sure you have extra bananas in your diet. Bananas help you lose weight in addition to keeping the bloat at bay.


If you need to give your immune system some extra benefits, you can add sunflower seeds and sweet potato to your meals - since both are known to boost the body’s immune system.


When thinking of staying fit through nutrition, too many people start thinking about all that they have to give up. But the truth is - you don’t have to give up a lot of things that you like.


You only need to make small changes such as practicing moderation. You don’t have to cut out all sweets. That can be difficult even for someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth.


Instead, allow yourself to have what you want, but stick to a strict portion control policy. This way, you won’t feel deprived, but you’ll still be taking steps that are good for you.


Your biggest ally in eating right is going to be your thought processes. If you have negative thoughts about food or you use food as a crutch, it’s in your best interest to take steps are necessary to deal with that so that you can open yourself up to a healthier lifestyle.


Eating right alone isn’t enough to keep your body healthy. You need to practice some form of exercise - and you need to do it on a regular schedule. If you have a health condition that can make some types of exercise too hard for you to accomplish, look for ones that will take your situation into consideration.


Exercise is defined simply as physical activity. That means you can do things that you enjoy doing and it can still help you stay fit. One of the easiest ways that you can exercise is to walk.


You can add steps to your day in so many different ways!  Learn to stop parking your car in the closest parking spot whenever you go somewhere. Park a greater distance out in the parking lot and walk into the office or store or wherever you’re headed.


You can buy a pedometer and use that to track your steps. Aim to get at least 10,000 steps a day.  There are pocket, belt and wrist pedometers that keep track of your steps throughout the day.


You can use music to move yourself more. You can dance while cleaning, while making a bed and even while talking on the phone. For the best benefit to your body, you should exercise at least 3 times a week - longer for more benefits.


You can start out at 10 minutes a day if exercising is not your thing. That short of a time span will go by quickly and before you know it, you’ll be in the habit of exercising.


There are many workout DVDs that you can buy online that will cover a wide range of different exercise moves – from beginner to advanced. And you can get cardio tapes to help keep your heart in good shape.


Boost Your Immune System


Two people will often come in contact with the exact same virus. One of them goes on to develop symptoms associated with the virus, while the second person doesn’t come down with any symptoms at all.


The difference in the two is that one of them had a stronger resistance - thanks to their immune system.  We often focus on looking healthy – being fit and trim – but you have to consider your inner health as well.


Most people don’t give a second thought to their immune system until it doesn’t work as well anymore. There are a lot of things you can do to make sure that you’re taking care of your immune system.


You probably already know that eating right and taking a multivitamin are good ways to keep your immune system fighting those nasty germs you come in contact with.


Exercising, getting the right amount of sleep and avoiding stress as much as possible also boost your ability to fight things off. Avoiding taking an antibiotic unless there’s just no way around it can help your immune system stay strong.


Researchers are very worried about superbugs now developing that are resistant to antibiotics, and that’s from nothing more than an overuse of antibiotics in the past, which have left our immune systems weak – unable to fend for themselves.


You have to boost your immune system on your own. You can limit your sugar intake and you can eat foods that contain probiotics. These help strengthen the immune system.


You can find probiotics in olives, pickles, bananas, sauerkraut, tomatoes, green beans, honey, soy milk, Kombucha tea and dark chocolate. The most well-known food with probiotics is yogurt.


To further help your immune system, you can also eat foods that are antibacterial and antiviral in nature. Garlic is one such food. Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory properties that can boost the immune system.


See the Doctor


Sometimes, people don’t want to see the doctor because they don’t want to take the time for preventative checkups – or they’re scared of what the doctor might tell them.


Other times, they learn to live with not feeling 100% - chalking it up to aging or everyday drains on their energy stores. With the right care, you can feel great and live a much longer life.


There are many health conditions that can be avoided simply by making sure you have regular, annual checkups. Your doctor can often catch little health problems before they become serious.


Some tests are fairly standard and everyone, regardless of whether you’re male or female should have the tests. If you’re sexually active, regardless of your age, you should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases as some of these have been linked to cancer.


Some tests are known as milestone tests. These are tests that follow guidelines telling you when the suggested testing time is. This is the time that preventable conditions can usually be caught.


Many of the tests will be the same for men or women, but some will be different. Women in their 20s need to have their blood pressure checked every couple of years if it’s within normal range.


If it’s not, it should be checked every year if it’s borderline. Blood pressure that’s greater than 140/90 needs to be treated.  One of the reasons that doctors monitor blood pressure, even at an early age, is because high blood pressure can be a sign of diabetes.


In their 20s, women also need baseline cholesterol tests as well as diabetes screening. While a woman should always perform self breast exams, a doctor will also often perform one, but a mammogram isn’t necessary unless a lump is felt in the breast tissue.


A pelvic exam and a pap smear should be done during this age range, even if a woman is not sexually active. Any needed immunizations should also be done during this time.


While a woman is in her twenties, although two physical exams a year are recommended, most women at that age rarely have a physical. It’s best to schedule at least one a year if nothing else.


When a woman reaches her 30s, she should add thyroid and skin cancer testing to what needs to be done. You should go sooner if you have problems associated with thyroid malfunction, moles or new growths.


In her 40s, a woman needs a mammogram regardless of whether or not there’s a family history of breast cancer. A doctor-performed breast exam should be done in office, as well as a pap smear, HPV test and any needed STD or other medical tests.


By the time a woman reaches 50, her milestone tests should include thyroid hormone testing, a rectal exam, a blood pressure check, cholesterol testing and a colonoscopy.


When you’re in your 60s, you should stay on top of your regular milestone testing and add a bone density scan test to that list. Hormones will be an issue post-menopause, so they will always need to be monitored.


For men, they need physicals, skin cancer, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and STD testing within the same age range that a woman does. But a man should also have a prostate exam at the age of 50.


If he has any risk factors associated with prostate cancer, then he should be tested at the age of 40. Your doctor may perform a fecal blood test to see if there’s rectal blood not visible to the naked eye.


Dental Health


Certain oral diseases can be indicative of other health problems. Your dentist can tell if you have diabetes from an oral exam. He can also see if you have thrush - even in its early stage.


That’s why it’s important to have regular dental checkups. You need to go every six months for a checkup and to have your teeth cleaned. Your dentist can make sure that you don’t have gum disease or something more serious - such as oral cancer.


If you have a serious health condition like diabetes or a disease that causes a weakened immune system, you should visit your dentist more often than the usual 6-month timespan.


To keep your teeth healthy and keep from putting bacteria in your mouth, you should change your toothbrush at least every three months - but more often if you’ve had an illness.


You should never store your toothbrush in a closed case or in anything where bacteria can readily breed. Your toothbrush needs to be placed where it can dry between brushing.


Living your best life means being pain-free and also feeling beautiful (or handsome). Ask your doctor about proper teeth-whitening options for you, and stay away from stain causing elements like coffee, or brush your teeth so that it’s not sitting on your teeth for long periods of time causing discoloration.


Eye Health


There are a lot of diseases that can take your sight, even if you’re a young person. These diseases, if they’re caught in time, can keep you from losing your vision or alleviate further vision loss.


If you currently have some vision problems - like you’re near or farsighted - then you should have regular exams. When you’re in your 20s, you need to have your eyes checked every 24 months unless there’s a problem.


Some problems are high indicators that you’ve got a serious issue going on. If you experience sudden changes in your vision or see spots or lights flashing, you need to see an eye doctor immediately.


Seeing floaters when you have vision problems can be a sign of high blood pressure. These floaters can also be a sign of diabetes. Be sure and make an appointment ASAP so that your doctor can rule out any serious health concerns.


Once you hit your 40s, you need to have an eye exam every year. Remember that getting your eyes checked isn’t always about dealing with problems you may be experiencing but is also about keeping any possible problems from happening.


The earlier you get treatment for things like cataracts or glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration, the more sight you can salvage. Don’t be afraid of getting a diagnosis – be afraid of not getting one in time.


You should always protect your eyes from injury by wearing the appropriate eyewear. Wear safety glasses when needed. To protect your vision from damage by bright sunlight in the summer time or the sunlight glinting off of snow, you should wear sunglasses. Light sensitivity can be a sign of damage.


Internal Medicine


Sometimes, you can have something going on inside of your body and not even know it. That’s why if something feels off, you should have it checked. Pain or symptoms that last need to be examined.


Internal medicine is treatment of issues regarding the digestive tract, your organs and your glands. You can visit a general internist who can give you an overall checkup.


But there are internists that specialize in one or more particular area of internal medicine. For example, cardiology is a subspecialty that falls under the heading of internal medicine.


You also have:


·         Endocrinology

·         Geriatrics

·         Gastroenterology

·         Hematology

·         Rheumatology

·         Nephrology

·         Oncology

·         Pulmonology

·         Immunology.


You would see an internist to treat a condition such as arthritis. If you have arthritis, you would see a rheumatologist. If you had problems with your digestive tract, you would see a gastroenterologist, and so on.


New in Health


Tomatoes are delivering good health news for both men and women!  As a woman ages, her risk of cancer increases. After menopause, a woman is at risk of specifically developing breast cancer.


A recent study has shown that if postmenopausal women consume meals that are high in tomatoes or tomato rich foods, it can lower their risk of getting breast cancer because tomatoes can increase adiponectin hormones.


Recent studies have also shown that a tomato rich diet can lessen the odds of having a stroke. For men who consume a diet that’s high in tomatoes and tomato-based products, the food can lower the risk of developing prostate cancer.


There’s plenty of good news for those who already do have cancer. Scientists have found a way to treat blood cancers that is gentler on your system than chemotherapy.


They’re called B-cell receptor pathway inhibitors and they work well with leukemia patients because they destroy cancer cells, without destroying healthy cells, which is why chemotherapy is so traumatic for people.


Researchers are always finding new and improved methods to spot health issues sooner and treat them faster and better. Your role in the equation is to empower yourself by adhering to a preventative health regimen and doing what you can to bolster your body from disease.

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