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,

like polyphenols.

  • 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 frequently.

  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

processed sugar.

   • 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

reduce bodyfat.

  • 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

out much.

   • 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.

——————Good bacteria

in yogurt

keeps the

digestive tract

healthy, which


affects the

central nervous

system, lifting

your mood.

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

than fresh.

  • 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
——————Subjects who

slowed down

and made an

effort to enjoy

the things they

usually hurried

through were


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

happier life.