We all want to be healthy. We search for the best diets, try to exercise regularly, and wonder which supplements are the most beneficial. There is an abundance of information on how to become healthier, but what is “healthy?” In order to achieve a goal, we must define it.
As a urologist, I am often asked, “What can I do to keep my kidneys healthy?” My answer is a very simple one: whatever keeps yo
ur heart healthy will keep your kidneys healthy. After all, a kidney is a specialized collection of blood vessels. Whether we want to keep our minds sharp or our “man parts” working beyond their years, it all starts with the heart. A rich flow of blood will supply us with all of the nutrients and disease-fighting elements that our body craves.
What are some measurements of a healthy heart?
The best indicator is how you feel on a daily basis. Is your energy level good throughout most of the day? Can you climb a flight or two of stairs without becoming short of breath? Are you generally happy with the way your life is going? These subjective measurements can be the most reliable indicators of good health, but we should not ignore the following objective metrics:
- A reasonable exercise tolerance, adjusted for age and any existing medical conditions or limitations
- A sensible and realistic body weight
- A good report from your physician at your annual wellness visit, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels
When it comes to maintaining a healthy heart, the checklist is a simple one:
- A diet with a balanced variety of fruits, vegetables, protein, complex carbohydrates, and “good” fats
- Avoid processed foods and “simple” sugars
- Caloric intake to match your daily energy expenditure (or slightly less if you want to lose weight)
- Moderate exercise on a regular basis
- Stress reduction
- A good night’s sleep every night
- Don’t smoke
- Health screening by your primary doctor at least once a year
- Tightly manage chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes
Of all the diet and exercise programs out there, the best ones are those that work for you—not the other guy. Instead of searching for the latest fads, keep it simple and consistent. Not only will you keep your heart healthy, but you will also keep that male machine running smoothly for years to come. As your Partner in Health, I look forward to guiding you in disease prevention and health optimization. Look for my article on “Good Stress, Bad Stress” in the next issue.