Health Tips | Starting the New Year right

December 30, 2010 by David Despain

Healthy Aging

Exercising regularly and taking vitamin D may be the two most successful ways to prevent falling in old age, because they help keep muscles and bones stronger [Annals of Internal Medicine]. Staying physically active while pregnant can also help you maintain a healthy body weight after pregnancy while helping you keep blood pressure and blood sugar under control [BJOG].

People who are overweight or obese may need to take more vitamin D because excess fat can interfere with its proper absorption, leading to low vitamin D levels and increased risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer [J of Nutr].

Cutting stroke risk involves reducing sodium (heavy in processed foods), refined sugars, and saturated fats, and increasing potassium (in fruits and vegetables) and low-fat dairy products. If you have diabetes or are otherwise at high risk, experts advise asking your doctor for proper treatment for blood pressure, cholesterol, and coagulation [Stroke]. Eating as least three servings of fish per week can reduce risk of stroke significantly [AJCN], but eating red meat and processed meats (both typically high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium) may increase risk of stroke [Stroke].

Smokers who are screened early for lung cancer can cut their risk of dying from the disease significantly [Lung Cancer].

Healing Foods

A Mediterranean-style diet could save your brain because it includes  foods (like vegetables, fish, and olive oil) that help slow cognitive decline [AJCN].

During menopause, soy’s natural content of estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones can be helpful for reducing hot flashes with low risk of breast cancer [AJCN]. Soy also naturally lowers total and LDL cholesterol because of sterols that increase excretion of bile acids [J Clin Lipid].

Salmon can be a natural therapy for ulcerative colitis. Its long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have a natural anti-inflammatory effect that soothes symptoms [Scand J Clin Lab Invest].

Dairy products may reduce risk of diabetes because of a natural fatty acid called trans-palmitoleic acid,  which is linked to lower insulin resistance [Annals of Internal Medicine].

Eating dark (no milk) chocolate may be good for the gut. It contains compounds called flavanols that act as  “prebiotic” food for fueling the growth of probiotic bacteria in the intestine [AJCN (funded by Mars)].

Social networks

Maintaining a vibrant social life leads to fewer problems dealing with emotional challenges [Stanford]. Can’t get out? No problem. Indoor plants can contribute to a sense of wellbeing and personal satisfaction [HortScience].