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Seven health numbers to change your life

January 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Seven numbers that could change your life: They're easy to learn, and with a little effort, easy to maintain.Number 1: Know your blood pressure. Fifty-million American adults have high blood pressure.

"Blood pressure, also very important. A major contributor to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure," said Dr. John de Beixedon.

Internist Dr. John de Beixedon in Pasadena says to lower your blood pressure, it's crucial to be at a healthy weight, to exercise and to avoid salt.

Number 2: Cholesterol.

High cholesterol puts you at high risk for a heart attack. But you need to know your HDL -- that's "good" cholesterol -- and your LDL, which is "bad" cholesterol.

"LDL in an ordinary individual should probably be under 100. In a diabetic or somebody with heart disease, under 80," said de Beixedon.

You can lower your LDL by making changes in your diet. And raise your HDL by taking omega-3 supplements. Medication can also help.

Number 3: A non-fasting glucose test. Dr. de Beixedon says a non-fasting test picks up signs of diabetes earlier.

"You can find someone's diabetic five to 10 years earlier doing those tests," said de Beixedon.

Number 4: Body fat.

"What is bad about fat? Well, it usually means higher blood pressure, cholesterol, higher sugars," said de Beixedon.

De Beixedon uses a Valhalla scale, which is a more accurate way to measure body fat than going by your body-mass index (BMI) number.

Number 5: Your weight.

If you can still fit into your high school jeans, you're probably in good shape.

"So if they're still at their high school weight, odds are they're in pretty good health," said de Beixedon.

Number 6: Get eight hours of sleep.

Adults need about eight hours of sleep, but the average number most people get is about six and a half.

Number 7: Get five servingsa day of fruits and veggies.

The more intense the color, like dark leafy greens or bright orange squash, the better.

"Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, you can't go wrong with it," said de Beixedon.

Whole fruit is always a healthier choice than fruit juice. That's because whole fruit contain less sugar, more fiber and more nutrients. The skin of grapes contains flavonoids and carotenoids. Studies show they can help lower risk of cancer.

View a printable checklist of the seven numbers you need to know to stay healthy.