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How to Pin Down the Health Numbers that Count

By Sandy Schroeder

When we deal with our health we have to make our way through a world of numbers, some important, some not. Our blood pressure, weight, heart rate, BMI, etc., all show up when our doctors assess our health, but knowing what is crucial can be confusing.

The Washington Post cut through the confusion recently, highlighting the numbers that matter in a story that surveyed 20 private practice and hospital experts.

The Numbers that Matter

Here are the key numbers to know.

Get the right amount of fiber - Get 25 to 35 grams of fiber from vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains. Most Americans only get about 16 grams of fiber a day. Adequate fiber can lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, prevent some cancers, ease constipation, and keep the body satisfied longer to control weight.

Sleep 7 to 8 hours every night - When we struggle along with 5 or 6 hours of sleep we risk accidents, suffer through bad moods and sometimes exercise poor judgment. Everything takes more effort and long-range consequences range from obesity to heart disease to type 2 diabetes. Move the TV, laptop and phone out of the bedroom to make it a sleep retreat to get the rest your body craves.

Divide up your plate - Get the proportions right to make a difference in your diet. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of the plate with lean protein in poultry, fish or beans, and a quarter with whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa.

Log in 150 minutes of activity - Do what it takes to be out there walking, jogging, running or working out for 150 minutes each week. Divide up the time with daily exercise of 10, 15 or 30 minutes. The payoff is reducing the risk of obesity, cancer, dementia, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Shoot for 120/80 blood pressure - Check with your doctor to see where your blood pressure is, and what to do if it is above normal. Elevated blood pressure is 121 to 129 over 80 and high blood pressure is 130 to 139 over 80 to 89. High blood pressure gives no warning, but it carries serious consequences for heart, stroke and kidney problems.

Check blood sugar readings - A normal reading is less than 100 mg/dl. Regular checkups with your doctor will indicate normal readings, or a diagnosis of pre-diabetes at 100 to 125 mg/dl or a diagnosis of diabetes at 126 mg/dl.

When you have these key numbers in hand, you know where you stand and what you need to do. Then you have a good chance of maintaining and improving your health. All of the other numbers, such as sizes, age and daily calorie counts may be helpful, or not. Focus on the key numbers to get results.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Maple Grove, Minn.

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