We’ve all heard the stories. A coworker was diagnosed with cancer. Someone at the gym had a stroke. A neighbor suffered a heart attack. It may seem health problems are inevitable as we age. But there’s actually a lot you can do to live well – and live longer. And it may not be as difficult as you think.
Some of the biggest health issues men face today, such as heart disease and cancer, share many of the same risk factors. These include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and low physical activity. Although genetics play a part, most of these risk factors can be prevented or managed with simple lifestyle changes.
In addition to seeing your physician regularly for preventive screenings and exams, taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle is vital for long-term quality of life – Every effort adds up, no matter how small.
Focusing on good nutrition is key to staying healthy. Experts suggest filling at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Protein, like fish or lean meat, and whole grains, like brown rice, should make up the other half. Whenever possible, limit processed or prepared foods like canned soups, boxed dinners and drive-through meals. They tend to lack nutrition and contain ingredients that can harm our health. One of the biggest culprits? Sodium. Items like some breads, cold cuts and cured meats, and pizza top the charts when it comes to sodium content.
Many people only think about the saltshaker when trying to limit sodium. But most sodium comes from processed foods. When in doubt, read food labels. Try to keep sodium intake at 2,300 mg or less per day to help prevent high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for many health problems.
Research suggests that moderate alcohol intake may bring health benefits. But drinking more than the recommended limits can negatively affect your health. Heavy drinking can have toxic effects on the heart, liver, stomach, brain and peripheral nerves!
The National Institutes of Health recommends that men limit their alcohol consumption to two or fewer drinks a day. If you have a hard time sticking to this limit, talk with your physician.
Stress can sometimes be beneficial. It can help you prepare for action – whether asking your boss for a promotion or running a 10K. But too much stress can cause significant health problems such as heart disease, trouble sleeping, depression and obesity.
To soothe stress, experts suggest taking a walk, mediating or listening to music. Most adults already cram too much into each day. Instead of scheduling time or activities to help reduce your stress, start by taking things off your calendar. It’s health for our minds and bodies to have free time.
GET ADVICE TAILORED SPECIFICALLY FOR YOU. Your primary care physician can help you assess your current health and suggest changes that offer the most benefit to you. For help finding a primary care physician, visit CHIMemorialMedicalGroup.org and click family practice or internal medicine.