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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Simple Ways to be at Your Healthiest

May 23, 2017 11:00AM ● By Kendra Kaiserman

Come On Get Healthy

June 2017
Story by Kerri Regan

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym or ban ice cream from your household to live a long and healthy life. Following these easy tips can dramatically increase your odds of avoiding heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even some kinds of cancers.

Feed your hungry heart. Heart-healthy foods include strawberries, rye bread, avocado, salmon, nuts and - yes, it’s true - dark chocolate. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, salt and sugar, those empty calories that sap your energy.

Listen to your elders. If your family has a history of heart disease or diabetes, it increases your risk, as well. Share your family history with your doctor.

Hit the sack. When you don’t sleep enough, your body produces more stress hormones and less serotonin (the feel-good hormone). Aim for six to eight hours per night, and boost your odds of a restful night by setting the mood. Make sure the room is cool and dark, and keep your computer and television in the living room - it helps send your body the message that your bed is for sleeping.  A standard wakeup time (even on the weekends) helps your circadian rhythm stay on track. 

Water, water, water. Energy drinks, soda and coffee beverages contain extra calories that provide little nutrition and can lead to unwanted weight gain, which increases the risk of chronic disease. Rethink your drink by flavoring your water with a slice of lemon, strawberries or cucumbers. 

Be happy! Anger can raise your blood pressure, and emotional stress has a powerful connection with physical stress. Close your eyes for a few minutes, breathe deeply and clear your mind. Exercise can reduce your emotional stress level, too!

Take your vitamins. In a perfect world, all of your nutrition will come from healthy foods. Until we live in that perfect world, however, a daily supplement provides “insurance” against any gaps that might exist in your diet. 

Know your numbers. Your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar provide great insight into your body’s inner workings, including whether you’re at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more. Your doctor can tell you what your optimum numbers are, and help you formulate a plan to get there if you need one.

Kick the habit. Tobacco use is one of the most preventable causes of death in Tulare, Kings and Fresno counties. It’s never too late to stop smoking - find help at

Get moving. Cardiovascular exercise gets your body moving and your heart rate climbing. Working up a sweat can be fun, especially here in the South Valley. Walk, skate or bike, swim some laps at a local lake or get your dance on. Aim to get that heart pumping three times a week, for at least 20 minutes.