Staying Healthy From Head to Toe

In an article called “Get Healthy, Head to Toe,” Paula Spencer Scott summarized some tremendous tips for staying in tip-top shape, especially as we age. Like this one: instead of relying on puzzles like crosswords or Sudoku to keep your brain active, it’s actually more important to do social activities that you find engaging. In one lengthy study, a group of senior citizens that went into schools to work with kids was shown to enjoy some growth in brain volume.

For your teeth, the best thing to drink is plain water. While most people know that sugary drinks can lead to tooth decay, the truth is that even sugar-free drinks like diet soda or flavored mineral water can damage tooth enamel and cause decay. The acidity, not just the sugar, in the drinks can cause problems. If you do partake in drinks like soda, don’t brush your teeth immediately. Instead, rinse with plain water and wait an hour to brush, when the enamel isn’t as softened and vulnerable.

To keep your neck and spine healthy, look up! Too many of us look down all the time at phones, tablets, paperwork. This posture works against the natural curve of the cervical spine, and can cause problems with discs and spinal nerves. Take frequent breaks to do gentle stretches and range-of-motion exercises. If you’re on a computer all day, try to raise the screen so it’s at eye level.

For artery health, eat more plants. Dr. Michael Greger is the author of a book entitled How Not to Die. He says high blood pressure and blood sugar are risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke, and both can be improved by eating a low-salt, plant-based diet without processed foods or much meat or dairy.

To keep your bones strong, soak up some sun. If you’re not spending 15 minutes a day outside, you’re probably not getting enough vitamin D. Dr. Greger says, “It appears to be the only supplement that helps the average person live longer.” He recommends taking 2000 IUs of vitamin D-3 per day with your largest meal to maximize absorption.

To make sure your lungs are working optimally, start with having snoring checked and treated. Snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that causes shallow or paused breathing because airways are obstructed as we relax muscle tone in our sleep. Not only does this cause daytime fatigue, it can also lead to cardiovascular problems.
According to the American Lung Association, the best ways to protect your lungs include: don’t smoke, don’t expose yourself to smoke or other pollutants, take precautions to avoid respiratory infections, do aerobic and breathing exercises to increase capacity.

For heart health, walk more. A wearable step tracker can give you incentive to park farther from the entrance, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. But rather than striving to hit a target number, just aim to walk more. According to Scott, just 2000 extra steps per day, or 20 minutes walking at a moderate pace, can reduce your risk of heart attack by 10%.

A healthy rear is an active rear. Too much sitting increases our risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, caner, and overall risk of dying. According to a 2015 study at the University of Utah School of Medicine, trading just 2 minutes of sitting per hour with 2 minutes of light activity cuts our risk of dying by a third!

To maintain healthy skin, we need to check each other out! Partners, family members, and friends often are first to spot abnormalities. Watch for the ABCDEs of skin cancer: asymmetry, border irregularity, varying colors, a diameter bigger than a pencil eraser, or evolving size, shape or color.

For healthy knees and other joints, take up a low-impact activity like yoga or Tai Chi to stay flexible and strong. (These activities also reduce stress, which is a very healthy bonus!) “Last year,” Scott writes, “the largest clinical trial to look at yoga’s impact on knee arthritis found that in 8 weeks, pain and function improved by 20%.“ She recommends starting with gentle-level classes and finding an instructor who can modify poses and moves as needed.

To keep feet and ankles strong and flexible, draw the letters of the alphabet moving only your feet and ankles. Also, consider buying a new pair of shoes. Wearing worn shoes with little or no support is the number one cause of painful overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis.


Category : Blog Posted on March 16, 2016

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