Take Ownership of Your Health

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Most of you might know your age, address and even your SS number but here are some critical numbers important for your health and well-being. How many of these numbers do you already know?


  1. BMI or Body Mass Index

Most of us know our weight and height but not many know about this even more important figure. It takes into account your height while estimating a healthy weight for you. Our goal should be to stay below 25. Higher BMIs indicate obesity, increasing our risk for Diabetes and Heart disease and even some malignancies. Along these same lines another important number is the waist to hip ratio. This is obtained by dividing the waist measurement by the hip, both measured in inches. This ratio should be less than 0.5.

  1. Blood Pressure

Ideally the top number or the Systolic Blood pressure should be under 120 and
the lower number or the Diastolic Blood Pressure should be under 80. .
For adults’ ages 40 or older, African-Americans, or for those with conditions like obesity that put them at increased risk for hypertension, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual screening.


  1. Cholesterol Check

This is a tool used to assess your risk for developing heart disease or stroke. If you're age 20 or older, you should have your cholesterol measured at least once every five years, says the National Institutes of Health. Your total cholesterol levels should ideally be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl); a borderline high reading is between 200 and 239 mg/dl. If you are at risk for heart disease or stroke, make a plan with your doctor for how often you should have this blood test.


  1. Blood Glucose Tests

Starting around age 40, one should get a blood glucose test every three years to check for diabetes or prediabetes. The range for normal tests can vary, but fasting

plasma glucose test readings of 100 mg/dl or higher, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, indicates that you may be prediabetic, while a reading greater than 126 mg/dl indicates diabetes. If you are obese, or have a family history of diabetes, or are of a race or ethnicity that's atparticular risk, you may want to start earlier and get screened more often. Your doctor can help you strategize.


  1. Daily fluid intake

The minimum volume of fluids to consume in a day, preferably of the low calorie kind, is 64oz.  60% of our body composition is water and we lose about half a liter just through insensible water loss over a 24 hr period. Water is essential to prevent constipation as well as to allow our kidneys to get rid of other soluble waste.


  1. Sleep

A minimum of 7 hrs (range of 6-8) is considered essential for the rejuvenation of both our brains and bodies. While the ill-effects of acute sleep deprivation is well known to us, chronic sleep deprivation is way more toxic to our bodies, increasing our stress and risk for obesity as well as heart disease while weakening our immune system.


  1. Fiber

Most of us know fiber is important to prevent constipation but long term high fiber intake helps minimize heart disease and obesity. About 30-40gms of fiber a day will also help cut down the risk for malignancies, especially of the colon and hormone dependant cancers of the breasts and the ovaries.

Take ownership of your own health and well-being by becoming familiar with these important numbers!

Priya Ramaiah, MD

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