US Department of Health & Human Services: Eat Healthy

Excerpted from US Department of Health & Human Services Office of Women’s Health

Following a healthy eating plan doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge every now and then. If what you eat is generally low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat) and sugars and you are getting enough vitamins and minerals, you may indulge in a rich dessert or serving of fried food every once in a while. If, on the other hand, you eat a lot of high-calorie foods, you are likely to get all the calories you need quickly without getting enough vital nutrients.

To help prevent heart disease, stroke, and perhaps other diseases, you should eat mainly:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grains (at least half of your grains should be whole grains, such as whole wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice)
  • Fat-free or low-fat versions of milk, cheese, yogurt, and other milk products
  • Fish, skinless poultry, lean red meats, dry beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats

Also, you should limit the amount of foods you eat that contain:

  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Added sugars

US Department of Health & Human Services: Smoking

Excerpted from US Department of Health & Human Services Office of Women’s Health

Your health begins to improve the minute you stop smoking, and you begin to lower your long-term risk of many smoking-related diseases. Smoking causes or can contribute to many serious health problems, including:

  • Cancers of the lung, throat, mouth, voice box, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix, uterus, stomach, and blood
  • Lung diseases
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Atherosclerosis, or hardening and narrowing of the arteries
  • Gum disease
  • Eye diseases that can lead to blindness
  • Osteoporosis and the risk of hip fracture

Smoking also:

  • Makes illnesses last longer
  • Causes more wound infections after surgery
  • Makes it harder to get pregnant

US Department of Health & Human Services: Mental Health

Excerpted from US Department of Health & Human Services Office of Women’s Health

Your mental health is very important. You will not have a healthy body if you don’t also take care of your mind. People depend on you. It’s important for you to take care of yourself so that you can do the important things in life — whether it’s working, learning, taking care of your family, volunteering, enjoying the outdoors, or whatever is important to you.

Good mental health helps you enjoy life and cope with problems. It offers a feeling of well-being and inner strength. Just as you take care of your body by eating right and exercising, you can do things to protect your mental health. In fact, eating right and exercising can help maintain good mental health. You don’t automatically have good mental health just because you don’t have mental health illness. You have to work to keep your mind healthy.

US Department of Health & Human Services: Get Active

Excerpted from US Department of Health & Human Services Office of Women’s Health

You have probably heard by now that physical activity is good for you. Well, the news in favor of regular physical activity keeps coming in! The new 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans state that an active lifestyle can lower your risk of early death from a variety of causes. There is strong evidence that regular physical activity can also lower your risk of:

• Heart disease
• Stroke
• High blood pressure
• Unhealthy cholesterol levels
• Type 2 diabetes
• Metabolic syndrome
• Colon cancer
• Breast cancer
• Falls
• Depression

Regular activity can help prevent unhealthy weight gain and also help with weight loss, when combined with lower calorie intake. It can also improve your cardiorespiratory (heart, lungs, and blood vessels) and muscular fitness. For older adults, activity can improve mental function. Physical activity may also help:

• Improve functional health for older adults
• Reduce waistline size
• Lower risk of hip fracture
• Lower risk of lung cancer
• Lower risk of endometrial cancer
• Maintain weight after weight loss
• Increase bone density
• Improve sleep quality