|This was written to help you achieve a happier,more optimistic disposition with sensible tips and strategies.|
| But believe it or not, happiness is a choice. You choose your stateof mind, it’s as simple as that. It depends on how you look at things
and how you interpret the world. But franikly, if you want to be happy,
just do it.
| And did you know that after age 55people on average get much happier?
That’s good news if you’re not there
yet. If you are, we have tips to improve
your health and longevity so you can
enjoy it longer.
| We put together this report to helpyou along that path. You’ll find a lot of
things to adjust your ‘tude and mood
and help you live longer, stronger.
| Are you ready to get your glad onthrough middle age and beyond? Let’s
get happy and healthy.
| • You probably know that bananas are a good source ofpotassium—one supplies about 10 percent of your daily requirement.
That mineral can help prevent muscle cramps. But did you know that
bananas are also a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that
helps boost serotonin, a mood regulator, in the brain? In fact, many
antidepressant drugs, like Prozac, manipulate serotonin levels. Advice:
Feeling down? Eat a banana.
| • Nuts keep proving their pulmonary power. A Harvard studyshowed that eating about five ounces of nuts a week reduced
cardiovascular risk by a whopping 35 percent.
| You’ve read that red wines are more healthful foryou than white wines, but do you know why? Both
types contain polyphenols, but reds have a higher
concentration. Reds also contain three to 10 times
more saponins than whites. Saponins inhibit cholesterol
absorption and inflammation that may lead to heart
disease. Reds are more potent because to make red
wines, you throw whole grapes into the vat—skins,
seeds and so on. All of those extras give red wines a
much higher concentration of protective compounds,
| • We’ve all read that two drinks a night for men and one a nightfor women can be good for your health. But what does that really
mean? According to Drs. Roizen and Oz in their Health IQ column in
the October ’06 Reader’s Digest, “A drink is defined as five ounces of
wine, 1.5 ounces of spirits or 12 ounces of beer.” Anything over about
|2 1/2 drinks daily for men and 1 1/2 drinks for women is overdoing it, ifhealth is a concern. By the way, you can’t save up all your daily drinks
for one week and have them on Saturday, when you’re watching the big
| • Recent studies have shown that a healthy sex life can improvelongevity, and the reasons why are becoming more clear:
1) Orgasm releases the hormone DHEA, which in men over 40 can
reduce the risk of heart disease.
2) Sexual arousal and orgasm increase the hormone oxytocin, which
may help prevent breast cancer. A French study showed that women aged
25 to 45 who had never had children and who had sex less than once a
month had a higher risk of breast cancer than the women who had sex
More frequent sex can also lead to less depression, which may also be
related to hormonal release, not to mention the intimacy.
| • Beans have cancer-fighting properties due to their phytic acidcontent and saponins, which reduce the ability of cancer cells to
multiply. They also contain muscle-building amino acids. Mix them with
rice to complete the amino profile.
| • According to an item in the November ’06 Prevention, aging canmake us more content. A University of Michigan Medical School study
of 542 adults of various ages found that the happiest people were in the
60-to-86 range. Apparently, as we age, we lighten up by “focusing less
on achievement and more on enjoying life and relationships.” And
you thought aging would make you cranky. It will, but only if you let it.
| • Honey is a good source of antioxidants, which can help bolsteryour disease defenses. The darker the honey, the higher the antioxidant
content, so go for the darker type to put in your green tea instead of
| • According to Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition atPennsylvania State University, there’s a lot of research demonstrating “a
dose-response relationship between nut consumption and reduced
risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, consuming nuts and peanuts
five times a week or more decreases risk of CVD 40 to 50 percent. High
consumers of nuts and peanuts also have a lower body mass index—
|not a higher one—compared with non-nut and non-peanut consumers.”Enjoyed in moderation, nuts and peanuts can help your heart and
| • Vitamin D could help reducethe risk of 16 types of cancer by
anywhere from 2 to 70 percent.
University of California, San
Diego, researchers determined
that after analyzing cancer deaths
and sun exposure. Sun exposure
without sunscreen is necessary
for your body to make vitamin
D. Try to get a few minutes daily.
That may be impossible in the
winter, so take a supplement that
contains about 1,500 international
units every day. Take it in the
summer, too, when you don’t get
| • Multivitamins are absorbed better when you take them withfood. Take your multi with a meal or you could limit its effectiveness—
and possibly get an upset stomach.
| • Apples are higher in fiber than many other fruits. One average-sizeapple has five grams of fiber, and we need about 25 grams per day. So
one apple gives you 20 percent of your daily fiber quota.
| • A six-year study with more than 20,000 people, average age 53,found that a 30-minute nap in the middle of the day at least three days
a week reduced stress. In fact, it reduced it so much that those who
napped were 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease. Now, it may
have nothing to do with sleeping and more to do with relaxing, so if you
can’t actually snooze, try a quick meditation break.
| on beans: They keep things moving. One cup gives you 13grams of fiber, about half of what you need each day. Beans also have
about 15 grams of protein per cup, but watch the carb count.
| The February ’10 Reader’s Digest offered “Joy,” by David Hochman.He disussed the beliefs of Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, whose
provocative research was put into public awareness by the bestseller
Stumblings on Happiness. According to Gilbert, humans are terrible
predictors of what will bring joy. Here is some of what Gilbert found
that can bring happiness:
|1) Commitment. “People who commit to relationships aremuch happier than those who don’t. That’s why married people
are happier than those who just live together. When people
commit to something that’s expensive or difficult to get out of,
they report feeling happier.”
|2) Little things. “Worry less about big, big sources of joy andfind a steady stream of small sources”—take walks with your
spouse, spend time with your kids, etc.
|3) Hang in there. “People are quite strong—much strongerthan they themselves realize. One piece of advice I give people
who have experienced hardship is to just hang on.”
|4) Go to church (or somewhere). “Churchgoers are happierthan nonchurchgoers but not for the reasons people expect. It’s
not the religion part that makes people happy; it’s the going-to-
church part. It’s the community part.” (Yes, the gym counts.)
|5) Giving. “[Studies show] that when people were given moneyto spend, those who spent it on others were happiest. Giving is
literally a joy.”
|6) Invest in experience. “Experience is almost always agreater determinant of happiness than things are.” (In other
words, choose the vacation over material things.)
| • Is it possible to force yourself to feel happier? Yes it is, accordingto research out of Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Scientists
found that active behavior, like singing and dancing, boosts mood.
Even laughing out loud or simply smiling for no reason can send your
attitude skyward. Are you seeing a connection to the popularity of
karaoke here? Singing, some dancing and lots of laughing out loud.
Come to think of it, laughing out loud is a great ab exercise too.
| • Oxytocin is a hormone released by the brain that inducesbonding—as in strengthening relationships. It’s been shown to reduce
stress hormones like cortisol, which can derail workout recovery. It can
also help lower blood pressure and fortify the body’s immune system.
How do you get more oxytocin? Hugs help release it, and sex causes it
to spike. So if you’re feeling down, get physical—find someone to hug.
Just make sure it’s okay with the huggee.
| • Tea can help fight cancer. Researchers at the University of MississippiMedical Center gave water mixed with green tea EGCG to mice that had
breast cancer, and after five weeks their tumors were 66 percent smaller
than those in mice who drank plain water. Drink more tea.
| • Doing things even slightly differently can have good effectson mental accuity. For example, if you brush your teeth with your
right hand, try doing it with your left. That small change can stimulate
the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which
enhances the growth of long-term-memory neurons. It can also
improve mood. When you’re depressed or under stress, your BDNF
plummets. Anything unexpected can activate BDNF, even a change in
the gym, like a new exercise.
| • Yogurt can put you in a better mood. New research suggests thatthe good bacteria in yogurt keeps the digestive tract healthy, which
postively affects the central nervous system, lifting your mood.
| • Research out of Japan suggests that a stroll through a forest orpark can lower stress levels and cortisol. That type of nature walk
also boosted the immune system, including raising the counts of
cancer-fighting blood proteins.
|relieve moderate stress simply by chewing gum. In a recent studythose who chewed had 12 percent less salivary cortisol than those who
| • Studies show that listing some of your happiest moments inlife can uplift your state of mind. Subjects who closed their eyes and
relived the events in their minds for 10 minutes twice a day significantly
boosted their happiness quotient after only one week.
| •For most of us spending money onourselves gives us a buzz. Getting something
new can cause in endorphin release that
can make you happier—at least for a few
moments. New research suggests that
spending your money on memories rather
than material things makes you happier
longer. For example, spending on a short
vacation or even a day at the beach or a
night out with friends will have a longer effect
on health and happiness than spending the
money on new shoes. New clothes lose their
appeal more quickly than happy memories,
which can last a lifetime.
| • Lots of folks shop for fresh fruits andvegetables because, well, they’re fresh, so
they’re more healthful than frozen. Not so fast.
If you think about it, fresh produce is picked,
packaged and shipped. That takes time, and
time takes a toll on nutrients. The longer it
takes to get to you, the less potent a food’s
health punch. On the other hand, frozen fruits and vegetables are
picked in their prime and immediately frozen, which preserves most,
perhaps all, of their nutrient potency. So in many cases frozen is better
| • According to the January ’10 Prevention, eating some asparagusbefore you partake of alcohol can reduce headaches and other
hangover symptoms the following day. Apparently, the vegetable is
packed with specific amino acids that help metabolize alcohol.
| • If you’re looking for something to give your salads a healthierpunch, try mushrooms. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition
demonstrated that mice that ate more mushrooms developed more of
the natural killer cells that rid the body of viruses and cancer. Previous
studies have shown that substances in mushrooms can block tumors—
plus, they’re very low in calories.
| • Our lymph system is a series of tubular ducts and nodesthroughout your body. It’s designed to help clean out toxins, including
cancer cells, bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, it has no pumps like
the circulatory system, so the only way to get the garbage disposal
cranking is through muscular contraction. That causes lymph flow
to increase three to 14 times its resting rate. So the next time you get a
pump in the gym, know that it’s not just for building muscle, but also for
sweeping up toxins.
| • Lemon scent can reduce stress, according to Japaneseresearchers—at least it did in rats. The smell of lemons alters gene
activity and blood chemistry to produce a calming effect.
| • A recent Dutch study found that people who scheduled a vacationand then dwelled on it every so often were happier than those who
didn’t have an impending vacation. When the vacationers returned,
however, their happiness quotient returned to normal—equalling those
who didn’t have an upcoming vacation. It appears that anticipation
of good things to come can up your happiness. So maybe
spreading a few shorter vacations throughout the year or scheduling
some long weekends can make you a happier person.
| • You may have heard that one of the keys to happiness is living inthe now—sitting back and savoring the present. Researchers at the
University of Pennsylvania have confirmed that: Subjects who slowed
down and made an effort to enjoy the things they usually hurried
through—like walking to the store or a healthy meal—were happier and
had fewer negative emotions. So the next time you’re watching a movie
with your significant other or your kids, sit back and pay attention—
and savor the moment.
|• If you don’t have as much energy as you should, especially inthe winter, open a window. Yes, even if it’s cold out. If you’re inside|
and made an
effort to enjoy
the things they
|a closed room for too long, you start breathing in your own carbondioxide, and you don’t get enough oxygen. That can be especially true
in your bedroom while you sleep. You need fresh air to stay, well, fresh.
| • If you walk into your house or apartment and the first thing yousee is old newspapers or clutter, you set yourself up for a bad mood.
According to the December ’10 Prevention, “The first thing you see
when you enter your home should be something you love, whether
that’s a piece of art, a vase of flowers or a special souvenir.”
| • You probably see unhappypeople every day. Maybe you’re
one of them; however, you may not
know that your mood is your choice,
your reaction to your surroundings
and events. According to the
March/April ’11 Well Being Journal,
“We have the power to create
feelings of happiness, peace
and relaxation. We can let them
influence the ability of our cells to
function optimally and replicate
precisely. It’s tempting to think
others have the power to keep us
from tranquil feelings, but really it’s
our response to others that pinches
us off from feelings of good.” With
an effort toward more positive
reactions, you’ll have healthier