• By Micah Dorfner

Keys to a Healthier 2015

December 30, 2014

shutterstock_219127921The New Year is just about here, and resolutions are ever-present. Many of these commitments to betterment involve some form of health improvement but lifestyle changes are easier planned than implemented. However, Mayo Clinic Health System family physician Daniel Stahl, M.D., points out there may be some low-hanging fruit when it comes to enhancing your well-being next year. While some of these suggestions are obvious, Dr. Stahl says they can’t be reiterated enough and shares basic keys for a healthier 2015.

  1. The importance of healthy eating is no secret, but putting it into practice can be problematic. Consider these tactics to make your nutritious endeavors more successful:
    • Eat a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean sources of protein.
    • Pick fresh foods while shopping, and skip processed items.
    • Avoid mindless snacking. If you want a snack, try nuts, dried fruit or quick-and-easy veggies like carrots or celery.

  1. Watch your portions. Portion control can go a long way in losing excess fat and maintaining a healthy weight.Do you spend the majority of your time sitting in front of a screen? If so, it’s time to make a positive change. Inactivity is a real killer, contributing to , and a host of other life-threatening conditions. Regardless of how you choose to exercise, just get moving. Even 10 minutes of activity each day is better than none, and you may need to start slow. Try for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Examples of moderate activity include a brisk walk, riding bike or cleaning your house.
  2. Obesity is a major problem for your health and a major problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 35 percent of adults and 17 percent of kids ages 2 to 19 are obese. The CDC also cites average medical costs for obese folks are more than $1,400 higher than people of normal weight. If you are overweight or obese, take action to get healthier. Improving food and activity choices are a great place to start. Talk to your health care team about putting together a wellness plan.
  3. Making health a habit may be the biggest key to a better year. While I’ve discussed some habits to create, there are also some habits to eliminate or make sure you never begin.
    • Don’t smoke or, if you do, quit now. There’s no sugar-coating the fact that smoking kills. There’s no safe amount of smoking — period. Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) deaths, per the American Lung Association. Consult your health care team about ways to quit smoking for good.
    • Drink in moderation, if at all. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that men consume no more than two alcoholic beverages per day and women no more than one per day. A standard drink is defined as:
      • Beer: 12-ounce bottle
      • Wine: 5-ounce serving
      • Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5-ounce serving
  1. Lessen stress. Stress can negatively contribute to your health. Take time away from work or stressful situations by exercising, spending time with loved ones or meditating.

"We always have the opportunity to turn our health around, but the start of the New Year is a natural point to get started," says Dr. Stahl. "Take into account the above suggestions as you map out your plan for a healthier 2015."


Thank you for this information…I am from Alexandria where the young man died due to this infection and very concerned.


Thanks for the information. To put the 35 cases over 10 years into perspective, officials estimate that about 88,000 Americans die prematurely each year due to excessive alcohol use, and about 40 to 50 Americans die from lightning strikes each year. For me, this puts freshwater swimming waaay down the list of things I will worry about, even though I enjoy fresh water swimming and do it every summer. I do realize that the extremely low risk does nothing to console the families of those who do contract rare diseases such as this, but it is wise to consider the relative risks and rewards of our behaviors.


The article mentions warm lakes/freshwater. How warm is warm is there a particular temp? Also is this something that could potentially be transmitted lake to lake similar to "aquatic hitchhikers?" Interesting article overall.


The article mentions warm lakes/freshwater. How warm is warm is there a particular temp? Also is this something that could potentially be transmitted lake to lake similar to "aquatic hitchhikers?" Interesting article overall.

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Naegleria is an amoeba that is considered to be thermophilic, meaning that it likes to grow in higher temperature waters. It is found to grow best in waters up to 115°F (46°C), but the cysts can be found to survive in temperatures up to 149°F for several minutes to hours, and in temperatures down to 32°F. There is excellent information about the life cycle of the amoeba on the CDC website. The organism is not one that we would consider to be an "aquatic hitchhiker", as it is found throughout the natural environment, including rivers, lakes, geothermal pools, and soils.


Thank you for this article. My family member passed away from this parasite last October. The starting symptoms were severe nausea and a migraine. While she was treated for these symptoms it was not until she lost her vision and feeling on the left side of her body that she was placed in the ICU. Her fight to live was taken by Amoeba as it ate away at her brain. Although this is a rare episode it is real and very serious.

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