A better you in 2016

Published 10:42 am Wednesday, January 13, 2016

By Mary W. Poole

Evidence shows that improving personal health habits often can prevent some of the leading causes of death in the United States, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, many lung diseases, and injuries. Eating right, staying physically active, and not smoking are a few examples of good habits that can help you stay healthy.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating the right foods and the right amounts of foods can help you live a longer, healthier life. Research has proven that many illnesses – such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure – can be prevented or controlled by eating right. Getting the nutrients you need, such as calcium and iron, and keeping your weight under control can help. Try to balance the calories you get from food with the calories you use through physical activity. It is never too late to start eating right.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Weighing too much or too little can lead to health problems. After age 45, many people gain too much weight. You can control your weight by eating healthy foods and being physically active.

Don’t Smoke

Research shows that smoking causes more major diseases than any other personal habit. Some examples are cancers of the lung, mouth, bladder, and throat, heart and lung disease, and strokes. If you stop smoking, you can help avoid these diseases. It is never too late to stop smoking. Half of all people who have ever smoked have quit.

Get Screening Tests

Lung Cancer Screening – a test called low dose spiral computed tomography (CT) is one type of screening that can reduce lung cancer deaths through early detection.

Cardiac Calcium Score – a test performed with a CT scanner that reveals if there is a buildup of calcium in plaque on the walls of the arteries of the heart.

Exercise Regularly

Research shows that physical activity can help prevent at last six diseases: heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity (excess weight), diabetes, osteoporosis, and mental disorders, such as depression. Physical activity also will help you feel better and stay at a healthy weight. Research suggests that brisk walking can be just as good for you as an activity such as jogging. Try to do a total of 30 minutes of constant physical activity, such as fast walking daily.

Don’t Drink Alcohol

Abusing alcohol or using illegal drugs can cause serious medical and personal problems. Alcohol and drug abuse can lead to motor vehicle and other accidents, depression, and can cause problems with friends, family, and work. Drug abuse can also cause heart problems, breathing problems, liver disease and throat or mouth cancer.

Starting today, healthy living is within your reach! Healthy living is a long-term commitment, not a passing fad. By taking steps now, you will make today healthier than yesterday and pave the way for healthy living tomorrow.

Mary W. Poole is Director Public Relations at Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas