How to Stay Healthy

From the pen of Doctor D:

There is nothing magical about this. In order to stay healthy, you have to follow a healthy diet, exercise every day, and maintain ideal body weight. As you probably know, there are too many Americans who are overweight or obese. The percentage of Americans who are overweight or obese is rising every day. Overweight and obesity lead to serious medical problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Obese people do not live as long as people who are at their ideal body weight.

Here is one of many websites that give you the opportunity to calculate your own ideal body weight. It is based on your size and weight. You can change the units used from kilograms (kg) to pounds and centimeters (cm) to inches. Before you do this, I suggest that you prepare yourself. Most people who think that they are at a good weight frequently have an ideal body weight that is much less than their actual weight. Here is the link:

http://www.manuelsweb.com/IBW.htm

Here are some articles and resources you may find helpful:

Nutrition

People Who Eat Healthier Live Longer

I always tell patients: the best diet you could eat is a vegetarian diet, composed only of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, while drinking only water. This diet would call for avoiding any type of fats to use for seasoning, for example, mayonnaise. The only seasoning allowed would be natural. This diet would be very low in sodium, which certainly helps blood pressure and which may increase longevity. If you found that this was too strict a diet, you could add fish to this. The caveat again would be avoiding fats that provide flavor, such as butter.

Most of us cannot eat such strict diets. In order to achieve a similar diet, you can add meat to the vegetarian and fish part of the diet. The meat should be very lean, composed mainly of fowl, and the white meat parts. Red meat could be used, but all visible fat should be trimmed. You can also add dairy products. These should all be 0% or at most 1% fat. This eliminates most hard cheeses. In fact, one could say that this eliminates ALL hard cheeses. In all the years I have practiced, cheese is by far the most common food that results in elevated cholesterol levels. Everyone LOVES cheese! But it is bad for you.

Finally, these diets do not include such things as cookies, cakes, candy, ice cream, sherbet (too much sugar), or, frankly, most desserts. The only sweets allowed would be fruit.

It sounds difficult. It is difficult. But you will look and feel terrific, and I guarantee you will live longer.

Exercise

Once again, there is nothing magical about this. You must EXERCISE! Everyone must exercise. I am talking only about adults, of course. Any adult above the age of 21 could benefit from exercise. This includes adults above the age of 90. Doesn’t matter. But, in order to do it, you must enjoy it. Don’t do any exercise that you find boring. Don’t do any exercise that you find excessively tiring. Do exercises that result in breathlessness and perspiration. Do exercises that you enjoy. Walking is exercise. For most other aerobic exercises, such as running, bicycling, swimming, and using the elliptical trainer at the gym, you should push your pulse rate up to one that is tolerable for your age.

The following link is one of many on the web that will give you target heart rates, during exercise, based on age:

http://www.cchs.net/health/health-info/docs/0900/0984.asp?index=5508

START SLOWLY! Start with 5 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. Increase by 5 minutes per exercise per week. Many people try to make up for a lifetime of lack of exercise the first time they go out to exercise. This results in injury. I don’t want my patients to be injured doing something that is good for them.

Digestive Health

Digestive health means avoiding such things as heartburn, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. Don’t eat too much whenever you eat. Eat small meals frequently during the day. Always include fiber, especially the fiber found in fruits, whole grains and vegetables. Fiber will not keep you regular unless it’s accompanied by a significant amount of water. Try to drink 6 or 8 cups of water every day, in addition to whatever else you drink. The water can be good old tap water, or mineral or sparkling water if you prefer. The only flavored water I could recommend would be any beverage that is not sweetened with sugar. Remember that artificial sweeteners may increase your desire for sweets. That’s why water is always best.

I generally recommend to patients that they take a fiber supplement such as Metamucil. This can be taken as a powder or a capsule. There are many generic equivalents available. I also generally recommend a stool softener. The most common one sold is called docusate. Fiber supplements prevent both constipation and diarrhea.

Plenty of Rest

Rest and sleep are a matter of lifestyle. Most patients I see have sacrificed diet, exercise, rest, and sleep for the hectic lifestyle that they have adopted. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. This means the bed is only for sex and sleeping. Watch TV in another room. Read a book in another room. Talk on the telephone in another room. Especially, if you are having a fight, make sure you have it in another room. Most people who follow these rules have a good night’s sleep.

Drink Water

Please see my comments about drinking water in the article above about digestive health. This means that water for the most part promotes digestive health. It does not treat chronic kidney disease. It is not “healthier” to drink a lot of water. It is important to avoid dehydration, which means not enough water in the body. But there is no other reason to drink a lot of water.

Dr. DeFabritus is Board Certified in Nephrology and
Internal Medicine.

Specialties include:

  • General Internal Medicine
  • Chronic Kidney Disease due to Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Diabetes, or other medical conditions
  • Hypertension (especially resistant hypertension, which is poorly controlled blood pressure despite the use of several medications)
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Hematuria or Proteinuria (blood or protein in the urine)
  • Kidney Stones

Dr. DeFabritus has been honored as one of the
Leading Physicians of the World . Visit his page here .