Our daily lives are flooded with numbers: PIN numbers, phone numbers and various account numbers. But there are also certain health numbers that can save and extend your life.
• Cholesterol: less than 200mg/dl.
To maintain or achieve healthy cholesterol levels, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet that includes unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids (sesame, flax and pumpkin seeds, avocado and olive oil, peanut butter and fish) in addition to soluble fiber (oats, fruits, vegetables and legumes). Physical activity and a healthy weight can also contribute to lower cholesterol levels.
• Blood pressure: less than 120/80mm/Hg.
Blood pressure can vary from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or even sleep. A variety of factors are linked to high blood pressure, including age, a diet too high in sodium or too low in potassium, calcium and magnesium, excess alcohol, smoking, being overweight or obese, high cholesterol, lack of exercise, stress and being insulin resistant. Low blood pressure can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, dehydration or unusual thirst, lack of concentration, blurred vision, nausea and fatigue.
• Blood sugar: <100.
To maintain a normal blood sugar range of 70 to 100mg/dl, it is important to exercise and eat a diet complete with fiber and complex carbohydrates including whole grains (oats, brown rice, whole grain bread, pastas and breakfast cereals), fruits (apricots, oranges, plums, pears, grapefruits and prunes), vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, turnip greens, eggplant, potatoes, yams, corn, carrots, onions, all types of lettuce, celery, cucumbers, cabbage, artichokes and asparagus), legumes (lentils, beans, and peas) and low-fat dairy products.
• Body mass index (BMI): 18-25.
BMI is a ratio between height and weight. The normal BMI range for adults is 18-25. An adult BMI of 27 is considered overweight and 30 or above is obese. The BMI weight categories help indicate the risk of severe health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, female infertility, urinary stress incontinence and acid reflux.
• Waist circumference: Men 40 <; Women 35 <.
Body fat that accumulates around the waist and stomach poses a greater risk than fat stored in the lower half of the body. The measurement of your waist size (circumference), like BMI, can predict future health problems, including Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, especially when BMI is between 25 and 35.
Staying on top of your health numbers entails a healthy lifestyle and regular visits to the doctors. A health log can help you track your numbers and encourage you to make a plan if you are not on target.