Dr. Steven Angelo, MD
VP for Medical Affairs, Masonicare
As an internal medicine physician, I am often asked by patients to
boil down the keys to healthy living to an easy-to-follow list. The “Ten
Commandments” listed below are my attempt to do just that. Genetics
and uncontrolled environmental factors certainly play a role in a
person’s health but adhering to these Ten Commandment as best as
possible will certainly go a long way towards putting the odds in your
1. I shall stop smoking.
While everyone thinks of lung cancer or emphysema as the major
health risks of smoking, smoking is also a major risk factor for stroke,
heart attacks, heart failure and cancers of almost every other part of
the body. And it’s never too late to quit. Risks of certain
smoking-related conditions might not return all the way to baseline but
they will certain decrease significantly.
2. I shall maintain a healthy weight.
Everyone should know their Body Mass Index or BMI – a scoring system
that lets you know if you are at a healthy weight or not. Once you
know your height and weight, simply enter them into one of the many
online calculators available. If your BMI indicates you are overweight
or obese, diet and exercise will be your main areas of attack.
3. I shall try to stay away from the center of the grocery store.
What’s typically in the center of the grocery store? Processed
foods with lots of preservatives and simple carbohydrates! What’s
typically in the periphery of the store? Fresh vegetables, fruits and
lean meats/fish which should be the main staples of your diet.
4. I shall stay active.
We are unfortunately a sedentary society, often sitting at desks all
day and relying too heavily on automobiles, escalators and elevators to
get around. Most people think of exercise as only being done in a gym
or on high-tech exercise machines, but staying active can be achieved by
incorporating small changes in your everyday routine. For instance,
why not schedule a ½ hour a day to walking outside or through the halls
of your workplace? Why not take the stairs? Why not park a little
farther from the entrance to the shopping center? In the long run,
these little changes will add up to an overall improvement in your
health and well-being.
5. I shall limit excessive alcohol intake.
For most people, a glass of wine per day (if your doctor approves)
is probably fine and has some evidence-based health benefits. However,
an average of 2 or more alcoholic drinks per day for a man or 1 or more
alcoholic drinks a day for a woman is considered excessive alcohol use.
This means that the health problems associated with alcohol such as
liver damage, stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure begin to rise once
these amounts are surpassed. Of course, these are general guidelines
and there is some leeway but these numbers should be kept in mind in
regards to alcohol ingestion and how it might possibly affect your
6. I shall see my doctor on a regular basis in regards to
screening for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high
cholesterol, age and gender-specific cancer screenings and vaccinations.
7. I shall take care of my mouth.
Good oral hygiene and regular cleaning are key to keeping your mouth
in good shape and avoiding tooth loss and gum disease. It might also
reduce your chances of heart disease, given a recently discovered link
between the two.
8. I shall always wear my seatbelt.
Motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of death and life-changing
injuries in our country. Fastening your seatbelt is the single most
important measure you can take to improve your chances of surviving or
reducing the injuries from a collision.
9. I shall find ways to meditate/ create a positive outlook.
Meditation is not just for practitioners of Yoga but can be enjoyed
by anyone with a few minutes to spare. It simply involves clearing the
mind of all concerns and worries and focusing on a single relaxing thing
for a set period of time. We do this when we are enjoying a favorite
hobby or past-time like gardening or knitting or even in the midst of
exercising. And never underestimate the power of a positive outlook:
the “glass half full” mentality has been strongly linked to longer life
10. I shall make time to enjoy my friends and family.
Strong supportive relationships with friends and family are not only
enjoyable but also strongly linked to better health outcomes and longer
An excellent website with more information about healthy living is http://www.cdc.gov/healthyliving/.