With Easter tomorrow comes a sense of renewal. This is perfect timing for focusing your health. With a good measure of spizzerinctum (determination or zeal), we can all improve our well-being. 


Some good advice comes from the Sweedler sisters Ruth (103) and Shirley (106). They offer four tips for staying mentally sharp as you age: work, connect, learn, and appreciate. 


Both sisters agree that hunger for knowledge is paramount. “Curiosity keeps your mind active and engaged.” Art and literature broaden horizons as well. “There’s always so much to learn!” (


This dovetails neatly into some recent findings. “You could extend your life by up to ten years just by engaging with more art, of any kind, according to experts. By connecting with art on some level every day, your long-term health might improve. Just thirty to forty-five minutes daily of any kind of art is said to help lower your stress levels and induce fewer physical and mental health problems, while also encouraging your brain to learn new things.” 


To accomplish this can be very simple. It could include things like humming or singing, curating a music playlist, or doing some coloring. See eight suggestions at:


Sometimes maintaining good health depends on where you live. “To determine which areas prioritize residents’ well-being, WalletHub compared more than 180 of the most populated U.S. cities across forty-three key indicators of good health. Our data set ranges from the cost of a medical visit to fruit and vegetable consumption to the percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated.” 


The top five healthiest cities were: San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu, San Diego, and Salt Lake City. Grand Rapids was the top Michigan finisher at number thirty-five. Bringing up the rear were: Augusta (GA), Columbus (GA), Shreveport (LA), Gulfport (MS), and Brownsville (TX). (


Grand Rapids may have the healthiest Michiganders, but the toughest people in our state live in Ontonagon. “A remote part of Michigan has been ranked as one of the top spots in the entire world to frolic around in your birthday suit. Dating advice website, My Dating Adviser, is out with its 2023 list of the top one-hundred places to skinny dip in the world. The ranking lists Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at number thirty-one in the world and at number three in the United States.” 


What makes this ranking a bit surprising is that the dipping is done in Lake Superior. The average water temperature is forty-three degrees (sometimes soaring to fifty-two in the summer). “However, if you bare it all in this area known for actual bears, you are doing so at your own risk as it is not legal.” The Porkies finished just behind Washougal River (WA) and Mazo Beach (WI). (


If the old axiom “you are what you eat” makes sense to you, food safety might be a concern. “The nonprofit Environmental Working Group rounded up a list of the 'Dirty Dozen' most contaminated nonorganic fruits and veggies after washing the produce in a way normal Americans might.”


On the most contaminated list are: “Strawberries, Spinach, Kale, Peaches, Pears, Nectarines, Apples, Grapes, Bell and hot peppers, Cherries, Blueberries, and Green beans.”


There is a bit of a palate-cleanser. “The group listed its 'Clean 15' fruits and vegetables.” In order of least to most contaminated: “Avocados, Sweet corn, Pineapple, Onions, Papaya, Frozen sweet peas, Asparagus, Honeydew melon, Kiwi, Cabbage, Mushrooms, Mangoes, Sweet potatoes, Watermelon, and Carrots.” (


About that palate cleanser thing, you could chose to burn away any impurities in your food. Something coming to store shelves this week could do the trick. “Heinz Is bringing the heat with three new spicy ketchups.”


These could bring some zing to your summer picnics. “The Chipotle version is medium spicy with a deep, smoky flavor, while the Jalapeño is dubbed as 'hot' and packs a little more of a punch. Finally, the 'hotter' Habanero is the spiciest of the three.” (


Heat may not be your thing, so maybe something cool would be better. “Hidden Valley announced this week that its new pickle-flavored ranch will be available at stores nationwide this spring. The 'dill-icious' new flavor combines the creaminess of Hidden Valley Ranch with a new, tangy twist.”


This may seem odd, but there's research behind the product. “Developers came up with the pickle-packed ranch after noticing a trend in the market that indicates the appetite for pickle-flavored products continues to grow rapidly. The number of pickle-related offerings are up sixty-seven percent from 2019 to 2022.” (


Finally, regardless of your health goals, all of us deserve a little spring treat this Easter. “It may not seem like Easter is all about candy. Obviously there is so much more to the season than Easter baskets. But, then again, there is also a lot of candy happening.” has determined the top three most popular Easter candies in each state. “We have done the research, worn the white coats, got down to brass tacks and laid out the results beautifully in this interactive map:” 


Michigan's top three are: plastic eggs with candy inside, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, and Reese's peanut butter eggs.  Candy Store also notes: “The Easter season is about family and fun. It's the thought that counts, the gesture that matters.”


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and


 (Interactive Map -- Point at the state to see the favorite candy.)