Monday, July 27, 2015


Sharing some secrets to better health

One of my favorite pastimes is visiting bookstores, especially used bookstores. All sorts of literary gems are just waiting to be discovered. One treasure I found recently was entitled, "100 Simple Secrets of Healthy People." Author David Niven, Ph.D. is a psychologist and social scientist. He has amassed 100 essential ways that we can become healthier and happier, gleaned from research conducted on average Americans.

A few of the secrets really caught my eye. For example, No. 2 is "The quest for a perfect body is doomed." I couldn't agree more. Seeking a healthier lifestyle is inherently good, but trying to achieve the perfect body only sets us up for failure. Niven advises, "Seek a healthy body that functions, not a perfect body fit for a display case."

"Hostility hurts you" is No. 71. It seems obvious that positive connections between people contribute to mental and physical well-being, while negative feelings are a source of mental and physical strain. Philosophy professor Sam Keen suggests, “Maybe real men should eat quiche — they might live longer.” He argues for a male makeover that replaces violence, materialism, and power with peace, spirituality and cooperation. Brown Medical School researchers found that people with high levels of hostility were 6 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease. When I told my husband that statistic, he said, "Only 6 percent? I'll just stay hostile."

No. 98 is interesting: “Vegetables Will Taste Better in the Future.” Plants protect themselves from being eaten by secreting bitter-tasting toxins like phenols, flavonoids and isoflavones, which are good for us in small amounts. According to a University of Washington study, our taste buds change with age, including a declining sensitivity to bitterness, making many healthy foods more appealing as we get older. Eight in ten older people reported an increased preference for green vegetables, whole-grains, and bitter fruits like grapefruits and lemons.

That’s good news about aging as we all head in that direction.

Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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