Around the holidays it’s easy to overindulge, but many practices and tips can be incorporated into your lifestyle all year long for a longer, much healthier life.
Ideal Body Weight-
Know your ideal body weight and try to maintain it. Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in centimeters).Your mortality figures are elevated if this number is greater than 30. The ideal number is 23. Obesity increases the death rate from diabetes, gallbladder disease, heart disease, kidney disease and breast and colon cancer. The caloric requirement for males is 2,700 calories and females is 2,000 in one day. Ideal body weight should be attained by striving for a 2 lb. weight-loss or less per week in a gradual manner. It’s best maintained by increasing exercise and modifying eating behavior.
Your risk of heart disease is affected by your cholesterol, family history, cigarette consumption, diabetes, hypertension and birth control pill use if you are over 35. A family history of heart disease in a brother, sister or parent less than age 60, doubles one’s risk of heart disease. Know the risk factors you have and alter those which you can.
Everyone should know the seven warning signals for cancer. In brief they are: (1) a lump or thickening anywhere; (2) a change in the size or color of a skin lesion; (3) indigestion or trouble swallowing; (4) a change in bowel or bladder habits; (5) any unusual bleeding; (6) hoarseness or cough which persists; and, (7) any sores which fail to heal over a reasonable period of time. Your diet affects the occurrence of cancers of the colon, breasts, rectum and prostate which account for 38 percent of total death rates. To reduce your risks, avoid obesity (especially in females), decrease the total fat intake, increase fiber intake, take vitamin supplements which include Vitamin A and Vitamin C, drink alcohol only in moderation and reduce the use of salt-cured meats. There is some evidence that increasing the intake of nutrients with vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. is beneficial in this regard.
Adequate exercise reduces cardiovascular risk factors as well as weight and its effect on heart disease and cancer. Optimum exercise should be four to seven times per week for a minimum of 20-30 minutes each workout to attain a pulse rate of approximately 155 if you are in your 20’s, 145 if you are in your 30’s , 140 in your 40’s, 130 in your 50’s and 120 in your 60’s. For individuals over the age of 35, it is a good idea to get medical clearance before strenuous exercise.
An optimum diet is high in fiber, low in smoked and barbecued meat which contain carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals), fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You should also strive to reduce the saturated fat, cholesterol, red meat, cheese and baked goods in your diet. Angel food cake is an excellent source to get your sweet fix for the day. Emphasize fish and poultry (without the skin). Veal is also an acceptable meat. Saturated fats are those fats which are solid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Saturated fat triggers the liver to make more cholesterol. The most important polyunsaturated fats are safflower, corn and soybean oil, which should be emphasized. Fried food should be avoided. Grandma’s advice to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables is good advice.
Know Your Numbers–
All of us must be aware of our cholesterol level, which should be under 200, and one should know his HDL level (the good cholesterol) and LDL level (the bad cholesterol). Know your blood pressure. It should be less than 140/90 with the number 90 being the most important one. Persistently elevated blood sugar readings should be treated. You should also know your blood sugar, resting heart rate and triglycerides (which are the non-cholesterol fats).
Avoid cigarettes, excessive stress, more than two drinks of alcohol per day and excessive exposure to sunlight. For each cigarette smoked daily, the risk of lung cancer is increased by a factor of one. This means a person that smokes 20 cigarettes per day has a 20 times greater chance of dying from lung cancer then someone who does not smoke. Statistics show that one of four smokers will die of lung cancer. Smokers also have a three to four times increased incidence of a heart attack, peptic ulcers and esophageal and oral cancer.
Medications and Vitamins –
If you are on medications, make sure you take them regularly. Avoid megadoses of vitamins. In the future, fish oil capsules may be important to reduce cholesterol. Selenium, and every other day Aspirin, may be prescribed to reduce heart disease.
Complete physical examination with blood work and physicians advise regarding health issue should be scheduled in men every two years up to age 40, then yearly; in women every two years up to age 35, then yearly. Everyone should be screened for cancer and women should have regular examination of breasts and pap smears. Immunity to German measles should be determined for those women of childbearing age and individuals with chronic diseases of the lung, heart, kidney or liver should have yearly flu vaccines and pneumonia vaccines. Women should have routine mammograms and practice monthly self breast examination. Men under the age of 35 should do self-testicle examination for testicle tumors. Laboratory stool examinations should be done to detect microscopic amounts of bleeding for individuals over the age of 40, or with a family history of colon cancer. Tetanus boosters should also be updated every five to 10 years. Proctosigmoidoscopy examinations of the lower colon should be done periodically beginning at the age 50. This screens the colon for growths.
These are various suggestions to maintain good health. Eat breakfast – studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to live longer and healthier lives. Wear seat belts. Know your doctor’s emergency phone number. Be married- married people for various reasons have a much lower incidence of death and disease. See a dentist twice yearly. If you have young children in the home have Ipecac syrup available to induce vomiting with your doctor’s advice of poisons commonly ingested by the children. Reduce stress. Drink caffeine and eat salt only in moderation.
The concepts of health maintenance and preventive medicine have received a great deal of attention in recent years. The issues discussed above are presented to help you become better informed about your health maintenance, which in the long run will result in fewer illnesses and a longer, healthier life.
By Richard A. Honaker, MD, International Racquetball Tour (IRT) contributor had been an avid right-handed racquetball A player since medical school in the 70s, until two rotator cuff surgeries forced him to go southpaw, swinging like a never-ever while moving like an advanced player. His fitness and court sense came through, as he played his way back into his club’s top league in one year. Dr. Honaker is a senior physician, former president of Family Medicine Associates of Texas, and co-founder of the Jefferson Physician Group, a prominent Primary Care IPA in Dallas, Texas.