DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A few weeks ago, the mellow, accentless voice of Dr. Andrew Weil came out of my car radio, courtesy of National Public Radio, and told me to turn off the news.

Dr. Weil is a holistic, New Age, alt-medicine practitioner with an auralike ring of white hair and beard around his face and a book in the stores, "Eight Weeks to Optimum Health."

The book is filled with health tips. Like drinking filtered water, trying breathing exercises, drinking ginseng teas and eating your broccoli. He also prescribes a "news fast." No newspapers, no radio, no TV. Commenting on this would be a fairly transparent conflict of interest. If too many people fast figuratively, I would fast literally.

Still, the idea that I might not be good for your optimum health gets me down. It suggests that in the feast of knowledge, I'm a mere glazed jelly donut.

But Weil has a point. A lot of news taken indiscriminately and without a sense of humor could make someone view the world as a loud, stupid and dangerous place.

But a news fast is an extreme measure. What's called for instead is a better news diet. And it's not hard to read healthy, get your daily minimum dose of irony and still feel as good as a realist would dare.

Here are the strata of the news-intake pyramid.

AVOID LIST:

Child actors, celebrities with causes, people who interpret Alan Greenspan, Donald Trump, gun nuts, anyone associated with any prosecution that vied for the title "trial of the century." In particular avoid: people who have unsuccessfully run for president twice or more, people who have run for any office more than three times, rock musicians on a comeback after drug abuse and personal scandal, second-tier shock jocks, professional doomsayers, sound-bite moralists and anyone not in uniform carrying any kind of flag. And car wrecks.

READ SPARINGLY:

You should count to three before reading: A crime story more than 50 miles from your home. A story that announces a hot trend based on a television show and what two guys from the office say. A story about anyone's divorce or child-custody fight. A story using the phrase "tech-heavy NASDAQ." Any political media event that involves use of props. Political polls.

READ AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE:

Comics. You are not too old to read the comics. Columnists, of course columnists. Stories about the stupidity of criminals. They will enhance your sense of personal safety. State Legislature stories. They can be dull, but legislatures have more direct effect on folks than our over-covered White House. Letters to the editor that don't involve guns, abortion or the Social Security benefit notch. Anything about someone actually accomplishing something.


Mark Lane is a columnist for The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal. He may be reached at mark.lane@news-jrnl.com.