Take a fresh look at oatmeal – it’s not as simple as you think










American Heart Association

@American_Heart
·





Oats and oatmeal have powers you probably didn’t know about — like nutrients to help lower cholesterol and enough fiber to help you feel fuller longer. They just might be quiet heroes of #BetterBreakfastMonth.

(Arx0nt/Moment via Getty Images)

By Michael Merschel, American Heart Association News

Let’s admit it: Oatmeal is a total nerd. It lacks fashion sense – the color they named after it is somewhere on the drab side of beige. It’s often seen with Sesame Street’s Bert, who also loves bottle caps, paper clips and pigeons.

But when it comes to healthy eating, oatmeal and the oats it comes from can definitely hang with the cool kids at the breakfast table.

“It has many, many good qualities,” said Candida Rebello, director of the nutrition and chronic disease research program at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.

Extensive studies have associated oats and oatmeal with plenty of heart-healthy benefits, such as lowering cholesterol (both total and “bad” LDL cholesterol) and helping with weight control.

Oatmeal has a host of vitamins and minerals. Two examples: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a one-cup serving of cooked oatmeal has about 1.8 milligrams of vitamin B1, or thiamin. That’s close to 15% of what an adult needs each day. It also has 1.36 mg of manganese, which is 59% of the daily recommendation for men and 76% for women. Manganese has roles in immunity, blood clotting and the way cholesterol and blood sugar are metabolized.

But that’s not what makes oats stand out, Rebello said. That same cup of cooked oatmeal has just 166 calories and nearly 4 grams of dietary fiber.

And the type of fiber is where oats start to distinguish themselves. It’s called beta-glucan. Put that in the conversation, and it’s like the scene in a movie where oatmeal takes off its glasses and everyone realizes just how beautiful it is.

Not literally. It’s a soluble fiber, which means it dissolves in hot water, where it thickens. “When you eat oatmeal, the kind of sliminess that you see – that comes from this viscosity that beta-glucan generates,” Rebello said.

That helps you feel full longer, she said. And it helps undigested food travel farther down your digestive tract, where it feeds the friendly bacteria living there.

Beta-glucan is abundant in oats and barley and has been shown “quite unequivocally” to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, Rebello said.

Oats also are rich phytonutrients – plant-derived substances that may boost health. One class of such phytonutrients is avenanthramides, which are found only in oats. Avenanthramides may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, although Rebello said their possible benefits are not as well-researched as those for beta-glucans.

Oats have been linked to heart-health benefits since the 1960s and come in many forms. The differences involve levels of processing.

Oats grow in an inedible casing called a hull. Inside the hull is a seedlike groat. That groat is encased in bran. “In other whole grains, like in wheat, you can remove that bran layer,” Rebello said. “But in oats, this groat is very soft, so that bran layer cannot really be removed.”

That means oats are almost always a whole-grain food, and those are a key part of a healthy eating pattern.

If oats are labeled “steel cut,” it simply means they were processed with a steel cutter, Rebello said. Rolled oats are steamed first, then pressed with a roller. “If the roller crushes it into thinner flake, then you get quick-cooking oats,” she said. “If it is then rolled into an even thinner flake, you get your instant oats.”

Rebello said that nutritionally, there is little difference between steel cut and rolled oats. Instant oats, however, have a higher glycemic index, meaning they raise your blood sugar faster.

When oats are ground to flour, the coarser portion is extracted and called oat bran. The beta-glucans will be concentrated in the flour rather than the bran, she said.

Oat milk is derived from oats and water, but processing may add ingredients such as sugar, salt, oil and more. Oat milk has some dietary fiber, Rebello said – commonly 2 grams per cup – but the amount of beta-glucan is rather small.

Unfortunately, Rebello ruled out sugar-filled oatmeal cookies as a healthy food (although she’s not averse to having one as a treat now and then).

How, then, to embrace oats? “Just eat regular oatmeal,” she said. Half a cup of rolled oats cooks up quickly and will keep you full a long time.

Oatmeal with your favorite fruit can be a sweet way to start the day. Cook it in low-fat milk for creaminess and add unsalted nuts to bolster its heart-health value. If you’re time-pressed in the morning, try a healthy version of overnight oats, which can be prepared the night before.

It’s important to remember that no single food, even oats, can do it all, Rebello said, noting that if you eat a nutritious breakfast but then load up on sugar and fat the rest of the day, “that’s really not going to help you much.”

But you should go ahead and invite oatmeal into your breakfast club, Rebello said. “I definitely recommend eating oats.”

If you have questions or comments about this American Heart Association News story, please email editor@heart.org.

Recipe: Sesame Cucumber Salad @Cleveland Clinic. Cucumbers are more than 90% water making them an ultimate superfood for beauty









Cleveland Clinic

@ClevelandClinic
·





Stir up a simple salad for a light summer side dish! Cucumbers are more than 90% water, making them an ultimate superfood for beauty.

Cucumbers are abundant in silica, too, a trace mineral that may actually increase skin elasticity and help keep you looking young.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
Dash cayenne pepper
2 cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 bunch chives, minced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Combine vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well.
  2. Add cucumbers, chives and sesame seeds.
  3. Mix well and serve.

Nutrition information (per serving)

Makes 2 servings

Calories: 100
Total fat: 4.5 g
Saturated fat: .5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 105 mg
Fiber: 3 g
Carbohydrate: 12 g
Sugar: 8 g
Protein: 4 g

Why Having a Pet Can Boost Your Mood and Keep Your Brain Healthy @ClevelandClinic









Cleveland Clinic

@ClevelandClinic
·





It’s easy to feel alone and overwhelmed. How bonding with an animal can help with social support and unconditional love.

Therapy animals have long been the trusted companions of people with disabilities. Now, animals of all kinds are proving their value to individuals dealing with a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression and even dementia.

Physiology helps explain why animals are such effective therapists for all of us, says Marwan Sabbagh, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health: “Simply petting an animal can decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol and boost release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, resulting in lowered blood pressure and heart rate and, possibly, in elevated mood.”

Pets can bring calm and companionship

Whether you’re an older adult, a patient dealing with mental health conditions or a caregiver, it’s easy to feel alone and overwhelmed. Depression isn’t uncommon, either, a byproduct of isolation and loneliness.

In these cases, bonding with an animal can help fill this void with social support and, from dogs in particular, unconditional love.

An Australian study of 199 patients who were dealing with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder found that 94% reported a “reduction of anxiety through tactile stimulation” thanks to a psychiatric assistance dog (PAD). Additionally, 51% of the patients reported that their PAD was responsible for “interrupting undesirable behavior.”

Pets can also foster human connections for their owners. Take a dog for a ramble and strangers who would never dream of approaching you in other situations will strike up a conversation centered on the animal. Even a mere smile from a passerby is a connection that can brighten your day.

survey of 14 community-dwelling adults aged 65 or older with pets by the journal Aging & Mental Health found that their pets might benefit them by “providing companionship, giving a sense of purpose and meaning, reducing loneliness and increasing socialisation.”

But besides living up to the billing as a human’s best friend, there’s yet another benefit that pets, particularly dogs, can bring owners.

The extra benefit of exercise

If your pet is a dog, especially an active one that loves walking, that can yield a second, equally important benefit: physical exercise, which is also key to a brain-healthy lifestyle.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity for good health and double that amount for greater health benefits. Brisk walking (at least 3 mph, around 20 minutes per mile) qualifies as moderate-intensity activity.

The payoff extends beyond enhanced brain health to weight control, improved cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength and reduced risk of chronic diseases and killers such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

“We know that physical exercise, and aerobic exercise in particular, is very beneficial for maintaining brain health, even in people who are at risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD),” says neuropsychologist Aaron Bonner-Jackson, PhD. “You can make a major difference in terms of how your body is functioning and, as a result, how your brain is functioning.”

Why a Strong Core Can Help Reduce Low Back Pain.@ClevelandClinic

cleveland back pain a physical therapist

Cleveland Clinic
@ClevelandClinic

Back pain is a complex problem, but can strengthening core muscles with targeted exercise provide some relief?

If you suffer from back pain, you’ve probably heard that strengthening your core can bring you some relief. But is this always true? And if so, how do you do it? Physical therapist Patti Mariano Kopasakis, PT, DPT, SCS, answers common questions about what we should know about strengthening your core muscle group.

Q: What is your core?

When most people think about the core of the body they think of the abdominal or six-pack area just below the ribs. While the abdominal muscles are an important part of the core, we consider other areas important, too.

Your core includes:

  • Front abdominal muscles — the rectus abdominis.
  • Muscles along the side of your body — the internal and external obliques.
  • A deep muscle that wraps around the front — the transverse abdominal.
  • Muscles in your back that are located between your spine bones and run along your spine — the erector spinae and multifidi.

Your core also includes your diaphragm, muscles of the pelvic floor, hip flexors, and gluteal muscles.

Q: What is the relationship between core strength and back pain?

Theoretically, if your muscles around the low back are weak, your body will rely more on passive structures for stability, including ligaments — the tissue that connects bone to bone — as well as the spinal bones or discs which lie between the spinal bones. This can cause pain.

But some studies have shown that specific core exercises are not any more beneficial than general exercise for low back pain. What we know is that exercise in general can help, and focusing on core muscles may provide some additional benefit.

Q: What are some exercises for the core that can help with back pain?

Here are my top five:

  •  Side plank — Sit on the floor with your right hand below your right shoulder and feet stacked. Lift your body, keeping your legs long, abdominals engaged and feet stacked. Hold. Repeat on the other side. You can modify this pose by dropping your bottom knee to the floor for extra support.
  • Plank — Kneel on all fours. Pull in your abdomen and step your feet behind you until your legs are straight. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders and your neck straight. Hold your abdomen and legs tight and avoid letting your lower back sag. Hold and breathe for 30 seconds. You can modify this pose by lowering your knees.
  • Bird dog — Kneel  on all fours. Reach one arm out in front of you, draw in your abdomen, and extend the opposite leg long behind you. Repeat on the other side.
  • Marches — Lie on your back with knees bent. Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out draw your belly muscles in as if tightening a belt. As you do this lift one leg a few inches from the floor. Return to starting position and switch sides. Repeat for 8-10 repetitions on each side. 3 sets.
  • Upward dog — Lie face down with head slightly lifted and hands palm-down under your shoulders. Point your toes. Exhale, then press through your hands and the tops of your feet and raise your body and legs up until your arms are straight and your body and legs are off the ground. Keep your neck relaxed and long and thigh muscles tight as you hold and breathe.

For the plank exercises, start by holding them for 15 seconds to 30 seconds. For bird dog and scissors, try three sets of eight or 10 repetitions. For upward dog, do one set of 10 repetitions.

Q: Can you injure your back by trying to strengthen your core?

Any exercise performed incorrectly, whether it is core-strengthening or otherwise, has the potential to cause discomfort.

Twisting exercises or even incorrectly completing the exercises cited above can cause pain in the low back. But it’s highly unlikely that one repetition of an exercise will seriously harm your body, unless it’s an exercise using a very heavy weight.

The best way to keep your body safe is to listen to body cues such as pain during and immediately after an exercise, and the next day after exercising.

Q: When should you talk to a doctor about your back pain?

If any of the following is going on you should consult with your doctor:

  • Your pain has been going on for longer than a month, despite resting from activities that make it worse.
  • Your pain is getting worse.
  • Your pain wakes you from sleep.
  • Your pain is in your low back but also is going down one or both of your legs.
  • You notice that one leg is becoming weaker than the other.

Q: Where should you turn if you want help in creating a plan to address back pain?

Physical therapists train as musculoskeletal experts — they are the experts on muscles, bones and human movement. These professionals are the most qualified, aside from an orthopedic doctor, to assess back problems.

Since there are many factors that impact low back pain and many types of low back pain, it is a good idea to visit at least one time with a physical therapist for an evaluation and subsequent plan of care. This will give you an individually tailored plan with exercises that progress safely. The idea of core strengthening, while beneficial, is just one piece of the low back pain puzzle.

How best to take care of yourself so you can live your healthiest, best life. @ClevelandClinic

Health is wealth. This common saying holds a lot of weight because it has truth behind it.
But what exactly is disease prevention and how can you prevent diseases from happening? Integrative medicine physician Irina Todorov, MD, offers nine ways to prevent diseases and how to take care of yourself so you can live your healthiest, best life.
1. Make healthy food choices
“For good health and disease prevention, avoid ultra-processed foods and eat homemade meals prepared with basic ingredients,” says Dr. Todorov.
A study published in 2019 concluded that consumption of more than 4 servings of ultra-processed food was associated with a 62% increased hazard for all-cause mortality. For each additional serving, all-caused mortality increased to 18%. These foods can cause chronic inflammation, a normal bodily process gone awry that can contribute to heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. 
Ultra-processed food include: 
Chips.
White bread.
Donuts.
Cookies.
Granola or protein bars.
Breakfast cereals.
Instant oatmeal.
Coffee creamers.
Soda.
Milkshakes.
“It’s crucial to read food labels carefully,” warns Dr. Todorov. “Most foods that come in a package have more than five ingredients or have ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Many foods labeled as diet, healthy, sugar free or fat free can be bad for you.”
What do all healthy diets have in common? They consist of fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and steel-cut oats, nuts and seeds and healthy oils like extra-virgin olive oil. 
“A great example of a healthy eating pattern is the Mediterranean diet,” says Dr. Todorov. “Talk to your doctor or dietitian to help create a meal plan that works for you.”
2. Get your cholesterol checked
When checking your cholesterol, your test results will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per decilitre. It’s crucial to get your cholesterol checked because your doctor will be able to advise you on how to maintain healthy levels, which in turn lowers your chances of getting heart disease and stroke.
3. Watch your blood pressure
Do you have high blood pressure? Even if you don’t think so, keep reading. Based on data published from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 45% of adults in the United States have hypertension defined as systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure or are taking medication for hypertension.
Normal blood pressure is defined as blood pressure <120/80 mmHg. Having hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States.
Even small weight loss can help manage or prevent high blood pressure in many overweight people, according to the American Heart Association. 
“Start off slow and find an activity you enjoy,” says Dr. Todorov. “That can make a big difference in both your blood pressure and health.”
4. Get up and get moving
Throw away any common misconceptions about exercising like that it has to be in a gym or a structured environment. Frequency (how often), intensity (how hard) and time (how long) are what matter the most.
“Start where you are and gradually increase your physical activity,” says Dr. Todorov. “My motto is some exercise is good but more is better.”
Taking 10,000 steps a day is a popular goal because research has shown that when combined with other healthy behaviors, it can lead to a decrease in chronic illness like diabetes, metabolic syndromes and heart disease. Exercise does not need to be done in consecutive minutes. You can walk for 30 to 60 minutes once a day or you can do activities two to three times a day in 10 to 20 minute increments. 
“There are so many different options for exercise available to us today,” says Dr. Todorov. “Take advantage of free gym and app trials, YouTube videos, resources from your local library and virtual gym classes. Walking in the park adds the benefit of spending time in nature.”
5. Watch your body mass
“Dare to be different from the average American, who is more likely to be obese than adults in any other developed nation,” says Dr. Todorov.
To see if you are at a good weight for your height, calculate your body mass index (BMI).
The BMI scale:
Under 18.5: Underweight
18-24.9: Normal
> 25-29.9: Overweight
> 30: Obese
If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems and certain cancers. If you are overweight or obese, you doctor or nutritionist will be able to help you get on the right path towards your ideal body mass.
6. Manage blood sugar levels
For good preventive health, cut back on soda, candy and sugary desserts, which can cause blood sugar to rise. If you have diabetes, this can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves over time.
Aside from understanding what makes your blood sugar levels hike up, the American Heart Association recommends eating smart, managing your weight, quitting smoking and moving more as measures to manage your blood sugar.
“In addition, having your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol in a normal range decreases your risk for heart disease,” explains Dr. Todorov. “This lowers your risk of being diagnosed with cancer.”
7. Quit smoking
If you smoke, there is probably no other single choice you can make to help your health more than quitting.
The CDC found that smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, different types of cancer, stroke and more. Not only that, but smoking increases your risk of dying from cancer.
“Smokers lose at least 10 years of life expectancy compared with people who never smoked,” says Dr. Todorov. “People who quit by age 40 reduce their risk of smoking-related death by 90%.”
8. Get restful sleep
Sleep restores us and has a huge effect on how we feel. If you have trouble sleeping, try to establish a sleep routine. A good sleep routine includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and avoiding eating heavy meals and alcohol. It’s important to stop screen time from your devices 2 hours before bedtime, too. 
To wind down before bed, Dr. Todorov recommends:
Listen to calming music.
Practice mindfulness or meditation.
Reflect on the positive moments of the day.
Read a book. 
Have a cup of chamomile tea.
Practice 10 minutes of yoga.
“Research shows that daily exercise improves sleep in patients with insomnia, too,” says Dr. Todorov. “Try to avoid vigorous exercise 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.” 
9. Don’t miss health screenings and vaccinations
It’s no exaggeration: health screenings can save your life. They are designed to catch cancers and serious problems early for more successful treatment.
“There are screening recommendations for adults and women specifically, and varied screenings depending on your family history,” says Dr. Todorov. “Some screening recommendations have changed, so talk to your doctor.”
Making healthy lifestyle changes overnight isn’t realistic, but taking the necessary steps to ensure you’re staying on top of your health will put you ahead and help you be the healthiest you can be.

How best to take care of yourself so you can live your healthiest, best life. @ClevelandClinic

Health is wealth. This common saying holds a lot of weight because it has truth behind it.
But what exactly is disease prevention and how can you prevent diseases from happening? Integrative medicine physician Irina Todorov, MD, offers nine ways to prevent diseases and how to take care of yourself so you can live your healthiest, best life.
1. Make healthy food choices
“For good health and disease prevention, avoid ultra-processed foods and eat homemade meals prepared with basic ingredients,” says Dr. Todorov.
A study published in 2019 concluded that consumption of more than 4 servings of ultra-processed food was associated with a 62% increased hazard for all-cause mortality. For each additional serving, all-caused mortality increased to 18%. These foods can cause chronic inflammation, a normal bodily process gone awry that can contribute to heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. 
Ultra-processed food include: 
Chips.
White bread.
Donuts.
Cookies.
Granola or protein bars.
Breakfast cereals.
Instant oatmeal.
Coffee creamers.
Soda.
Milkshakes.
“It’s crucial to read food labels carefully,” warns Dr. Todorov. “Most foods that come in a package have more than five ingredients or have ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Many foods labeled as diet, healthy, sugar free or fat free can be bad for you.”
What do all healthy diets have in common? They consist of fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and steel-cut oats, nuts and seeds and healthy oils like extra-virgin olive oil. 
“A great example of a healthy eating pattern is the Mediterranean diet,” says Dr. Todorov. “Talk to your doctor or dietitian to help create a meal plan that works for you.”
2. Get your cholesterol checked
When checking your cholesterol, your test results will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per decilitre. It’s crucial to get your cholesterol checked because your doctor will be able to advise you on how to maintain healthy levels, which in turn lowers your chances of getting heart disease and stroke.
3. Watch your blood pressure
Do you have high blood pressure? Even if you don’t think so, keep reading. Based on data published from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 45% of adults in the United States have hypertension defined as systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure or are taking medication for hypertension.
Normal blood pressure is defined as blood pressure <120/80 mmHg. Having hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States.
Even small weight loss can help manage or prevent high blood pressure in many overweight people, according to the American Heart Association. 
“Start off slow and find an activity you enjoy,” says Dr. Todorov. “That can make a big difference in both your blood pressure and health.”
4. Get up and get moving
Throw away any common misconceptions about exercising like that it has to be in a gym or a structured environment. Frequency (how often), intensity (how hard) and time (how long) are what matter the most.
“Start where you are and gradually increase your physical activity,” says Dr. Todorov. “My motto is some exercise is good but more is better.”
Taking 10,000 steps a day is a popular goal because research has shown that when combined with other healthy behaviors, it can lead to a decrease in chronic illness like diabetes, metabolic syndromes and heart disease. Exercise does not need to be done in consecutive minutes. You can walk for 30 to 60 minutes once a day or you can do activities two to three times a day in 10 to 20 minute increments. 
“There are so many different options for exercise available to us today,” says Dr. Todorov. “Take advantage of free gym and app trials, YouTube videos, resources from your local library and virtual gym classes. Walking in the park adds the benefit of spending time in nature.”
5. Watch your body mass
“Dare to be different from the average American, who is more likely to be obese than adults in any other developed nation,” says Dr. Todorov.
To see if you are at a good weight for your height, calculate your body mass index (BMI).
The BMI scale:
Under 18.5: Underweight
18-24.9: Normal
> 25-29.9: Overweight
> 30: Obese
If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems and certain cancers. If you are overweight or obese, you doctor or nutritionist will be able to help you get on the right path towards your ideal body mass.
6. Manage blood sugar levels
For good preventive health, cut back on soda, candy and sugary desserts, which can cause blood sugar to rise. If you have diabetes, this can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves over time.
Aside from understanding what makes your blood sugar levels hike up, the American Heart Association recommends eating smart, managing your weight, quitting smoking and moving more as measures to manage your blood sugar.
“In addition, having your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol in a normal range decreases your risk for heart disease,” explains Dr. Todorov. “This lowers your risk of being diagnosed with cancer.”
7. Quit smoking
If you smoke, there is probably no other single choice you can make to help your health more than quitting.
The CDC found that smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, different types of cancer, stroke and more. Not only that, but smoking increases your risk of dying from cancer.
“Smokers lose at least 10 years of life expectancy compared with people who never smoked,” says Dr. Todorov. “People who quit by age 40 reduce their risk of smoking-related death by 90%.”
8. Get restful sleep
Sleep restores us and has a huge effect on how we feel. If you have trouble sleeping, try to establish a sleep routine. A good sleep routine includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and avoiding eating heavy meals and alcohol. It’s important to stop screen time from your devices 2 hours before bedtime, too. 
To wind down before bed, Dr. Todorov recommends:
Listen to calming music.
Practice mindfulness or meditation.
Reflect on the positive moments of the day.
Read a book. 
Have a cup of chamomile tea.
Practice 10 minutes of yoga.
“Research shows that daily exercise improves sleep in patients with insomnia, too,” says Dr. Todorov. “Try to avoid vigorous exercise 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.” 
9. Don’t miss health screenings and vaccinations
It’s no exaggeration: health screenings can save your life. They are designed to catch cancers and serious problems early for more successful treatment.
“There are screening recommendations for adults and women specifically, and varied screenings depending on your family history,” says Dr. Todorov. “Some screening recommendations have changed, so talk to your doctor.”
Making healthy lifestyle changes overnight isn’t realistic, but taking the necessary steps to ensure you’re staying on top of your health will put you ahead and help you be the healthiest you can be.