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How To Stay Healthy to get Good Skin

Evidence shows that some of the leading causes of death in the United States, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, some lung diseases, injuries, and HIV/AIDS, often can be prevented by improving personal health habits. Eating right, staying physically active, and not smoking are a few examples of good habits that can help you stay healthy.

Eating Right

Eating the right foods and the right amounts of foods can help you live a longer, healthier life. Research has proven that many illnesses—such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure—can be prevented or controlled by eating right. Getting the nutrients you need, such as calcium and iron, and keeping your weight under control can help. Try to balance the calories you get from food with the calories you use through physical activity (select for more information about physical activity). It is never too late to start eating right. Here are some helpful tips.

Eat a variety of foods, especially:

Square bullet image  Vegetables. Choose dark-green leafy and deep-yellow vegetables.

Square bullet image  Fruits. Choose citrus fruits or juices, melons, and berries.

Square bullet image  Dry beans (such as red beans, navy beans, and soybeans), lentils, chickpeas, and peanuts.

Square bullet image  Whole grains, such as wheat, rice, oats, corn, and barley.

Square bullet image  Whole grain breads and cereals.

Eat foods low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, especially:

Square bullet image   Fish.

Square bullet image   Poultry prepared without skin; lean meat.

Square bullet image   Low-fat dairy products.

Weight Control

Weighing too much or too little can lead to health problems. After age 45, many people gain too much weight. You can control your weight by eating healthy foods and being physically active. For more information, select the next section, " Physical Activity."

Ask your health care professional:

Square bullet image   What is a healthy weight for me?

Square bullet image   What are some ways I can control my weight?

Keep track of your weight. Use your personal prevention chart.

Physical Activity

Research shows that physical activity can help prevent at least six diseases: heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity (excess weight), diabetes, osteoporosis, and mental disorders, such as depression. Physical activity also will help you feel better and stay at a healthy weight. Research suggests that brisk walking can be just as good for you as an activity such as jogging. Try to do a total of 30 minutes of constant physical activity, such as fast walking, most days of the week.

Before you start being physically active:

Square bullet image   Talk with your doctor about ways to get started.

Square bullet image   Choose something that fits into your daily life, such as walking, gardening, raking leaves, or even washing windows.

Square bullet image   Choose an activity you like, such as dancing or swimming.

Square bullet image   Try a new activity, like biking.

Square bullet image   Ask a friend to start with you, or join a group.

Don't quit:

Square bullet image   Make time for physical activity, start slowly, and keep at it.

Square bullet image   If the weather is bad, try an exercise show on TV, watch an exercise tape in your home, walk in the mall, or work around the house.

Foods That Can Help You Add Calcium To Your Diet

Injury Prevention

Following basic safety rules can prevent many serious injuries. Here is a checklist to follow to help keep you safe.

To help protect yourself when you are home:

Square bullet image  Use smoke detectors in your home. Remember to check the batteries every month. Change the batteries every year.

Square bullet image  If you keep a gun in your home, lock up the gun and the ammunition separately and keep them out of children's reach.

To help prevent falls:

Square bullet image  Make sure that hallways and stairwells are well lit.

Square bullet image  Remove or repair things that could make you trip, such as loose rugs, electrical cords, and toys.

Square bullet image  Put handrails and traction strips on stairways and in bathtubs.

To protect yourself when you are away from home:

Square bullet image  Always wear seat belts while in the car.

Square bullet image  Never drive after drinking alcohol.

Square bullet image  Always wear a safety helmet while riding a motorcycle or bicycle.

Square bullet image  Be alert for hazards in your workplace and follow all safety rules.

Taking Medicines

Getting information about the medicines you are taking is important for people of all ages. It will help you get the full benefits from your medicine. It will also help avoid problems such as taking too much or too little of a medicine. Taking medicine in the wrong way can make you worse instead of better. Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or pharmacist.

About the medicine:

Square bullet image   What is the name of the medicine? Is this the brand or generic name?

Square bullet image   What is the medicine supposed to do?

Square bullet image   What written information is available about the medicine?

How to take the medicine:

Square bullet image   How and when do I take it—and for how long?

Square bullet image   What foods, drinks, other medicines, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?

Side effects of the medicine:

Square bullet image   What are the possible side effects?

Square bullet image   What should I do if they occur?

To help you keep track of the medicines you are taking, fill in the medicine chart. You may want to share this with your health care provider and pharmacist.

Prescription Medicines and You, published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), is a free guide that gives practical tips on how to take medicines safely. It also gives advice on questions to ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. To get a copy of this brochure, call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295.

Getting Help When You Need It

Alcohol and Other Drug Use

Abusing alcohol or using illegal drugs can cause serious medical and personal problems. Alcohol and drug abuse can lead to motor vehicle and other accidents, depression, and can cause problems with friends, family, and work. Drug use can cause heart and breathing problems. Alcohol abuse can cause liver and heart problems and throat and mouth cancer.

Advice on Alcohol and Other Drug Use:

Square bullet image   Don't use illegal (street) drugs of any kind, at any time.

Square bullet image   If you drink alcohol, limit the number of alcoholic drinks—no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

Square bullet image   Do not drink alcohol before or while driving a motor vehicle or operating heavy machinery.

Square bullet image   If you have concerns about your alcohol or drug use, talk to your doctor.

Read the questions below. A "yes" answer to any of the questions may be a warning sign that you have a drinking problem. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider. Ask yourself the following questions, and if you print this page, place a checkmark next to each question for which the answer is "yes."

Square bullet image   Have you ever felt that you should cut down on your drinking?

Square bullet image   Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

Square bullet image   Have you ever felt bad or guilty about drinking?

Square bullet image   Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?


Research shows that smoking causes more major diseases than any other personal habit. Some examples are cancers of the lung, mouth, bladder, and throat; heart and lung disease; and strokes. If you stop smoking, you can help avoid these diseases.

It is never too late to stop smoking. Half of all people who have ever smoked have quit.

When you are getting ready to quit:

Square bullet image   Pick a date to quit.

Square bullet image   Begin by not smoking in places where you spend a lot of time, such as at home or in the car.

Square bullet image   Get support and encouragement—you may want to join a quit smoking program.

Square bullet image   Talk with your doctor about using nicotine replacement products such as gum, patch, nasal spray, or inhaler. Research shows that almost everyone can benefit from using these products.

Once you have quit:

Square bullet image   Don't try even one puff, and try to keep yourself away from all cigarettes.

Square bullet image   If you fail the first time, don't give up. Keep trying and learn from your experiences. Ask yourself what helped or did not help you in trying to quit.

Every time children and others you care about are around cigarette smoke, they breathe in poisons that can cause asthma or cancer. Please, don't expose others to secondhand smoke. Quit for them.

Overcoming Depression

Everybody feels "down" or "blue" at times. But, if these feelings are very strong or last for most of the day, nearly every day, they may be due to a medical illness called depression.

The good news is that depression can be treated. But first you have to know you have it.

People do not always know the warning signs of depression. Some of these signs are listed below. If you have four or more, be sure to talk to your doctor about depression. If you print out this list, place a checkmark next to each sign that you have.

Warning Signs of Depression

Changes in the way you feel:

Square bullet image   Feeling sad, hopeless, or guilty most of the time.

Square bullet image   Feeling tired, low energy, or feeling "slowed down."

Square bullet image   Crying a lot.

Square bullet image   Having thoughts of suicide or death.

Changes in eating and sleeping habits:

Square bullet image   Sleep problems, either too much or too little.

Square bullet image   Changes in appetite or weight - going up or going down.

Changes in your daily living:

Square bullet image   Loss of interest and pleasure in daily activities.

Square bullet image   Problems making decisions or thinking clearly.


The earlier you get treatment for depression, the sooner you will begin to feel better. The longer you wait, the harder depression is to treat.

Depression usually is treated with medicine, counseling, or medicine combined with counseling. Medicines for depression are not addicting or habit forming. They work for people with severe depression and may be useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Treatment works gradually over several weeks. If you do not start to feel better after this time, call your doctor. It may take some time to find what works best for you.

For more information, read Depression Is A Treatable Illness, which answers some common questions about depression. To get a print copy of this free booklet, written by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295.