12 Ways To Be Healthier
This is 12-step plan, a step-by-step
guide to a healthier, happier you. Make a resolution to make the
following health changes:
Get your cholesterol tested if you haven't
done so in the past five years. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of
death for both men and women.
Power up your diet with produce. A diet
containing five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day may decrease your
overall cancer risk, according to the National Cancer Institute.
If you smoke, quit. Science has proven that
smoking is a leading cause of lung, laryngeal, esophageal, oral,
pancreatic, bladder and cervical cancers. It also increases your risk of
Take aim at breast cancer. Perform a monthly
breast self-examination, starting in your 20s. It's the first step toward
detecting breast cancer in its early most curable stages. Also, get a
clinical breast exam. The ACS recommends a clinical breast exam yearly for
women age 40 and older and every three years for women ages 20 to 39.
Further, if you're 40 or older, get a mammogram yearly. If you're under 40
and at increased risk for breast cancer due to, say, your family history
(you have a mother, sister or daughter who has had breast cancer), talk to
your doctor. They may recommend mammography before age 40.
Go with whole grains. If you're like most
people, you're whole-grain challenged, consuming only about one serving of
whole grains daily. (Think whole-grain cereals like oatmeal, whole-grain
bread, soups containing whole grains such as barley or brown rice, and
whole-wheat instead of regular white flour.) Doctors reccomend at least
three servings of whole-grain foods daily. Studies show that people who
consume more whole grains have a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes,
digestive disorders and possibly some forms of cancer.
Seek out soy foods, such as tofu and soy milk.
Studies show that soy protein can lower total blood cholesterol as well as
LDL, "the bad" cholesterol, to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Limit drinking. A review in the Journal of
the American Medical Association concluded that women who consumed two to five
drinks a day increased their risk of breast cancer by 41 percent.
Excessive alcohol may also increase your risk of colon and rectal cancer -
the number three killer of American women - as well as stroke,
osteoporosis, liver damage and creeping blood pressure. To play it safe,
consume no more than one spirited glass daily.
Talk to your doctor about getting tested for
type 2 diabetes. A fasting blood glucose test, a simple blood test that
gauges the amount of glucose in your blood is available to detect this
common chronic killer (normal levels are in the 70 to 120 mg/dl range;
levels that are higher should be discussed with your physician).
Boost your brain power. If you work with
numbers at your job, spend your spare time doing something completely different,
such as reading, writing or painting. According to Elkhonon Goldberg, PhD,
clinical professor of neurology, diverse activities help improve
connections between brain nerve cells.
Right-size your portion sizes. To prevent
overeating, get out the measuring cups and spoons for a while and brush up
on your portion sizes. In a recent study published in The Journal of the
American Dietetic Association, those who pre-measured their food for at
least a week were the most accurate judges of standard portion sizes,
which are listed on food labels.
Take a calcium supplement, if you
don't get the two to three servings per day of calcium-rich
foods (that means it contains 25% or more of the RDI) that your
body needs. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation,
most women don't get enough calcium from their diet to protect
against bone-weakening osteoporosis.
Keep stress at bay. "Schedule in at least 20
minutes of daily down time," says Gailen Marshall, MD, PhD. Unmanaged
stress - that nagging frazzled feeling - is associated with a host of
conditions, from an increased risk of the common cold to heart disease,