Cold and Flu
19 Secrets to Steal from People Who Never Get Sick
With the fall and winter months looming, our immune systems become more vulnerable to colds, flu, and other infections. Use these tips to stop getting sick.
They make a habit of napping
It’s been shown that lack of sleep causes weight gain, leads to a compromised immune system and increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that triggers stress. But Sarnoff Mednick, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Southern California, doesn’t worry about such things. As profiled by Gene Stone in his book The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, Mednick would take an afternoon nap for most of his adult life and never suffered from colds or flu. The fact is, until about the 13th century and the invention of mechanical clocks, humans napped daily. The best time for a short snooze: Between the hours of one and three in the afternoon. And even if you’re napping, these common household items could be the reason you’re always getting sick.
They skip the nightcap
Although you may feel as though you fall into a deep slumber after a night of drinking, alcohol actually disrupts your sleep cycle and compromises the quality of your sleep. Sleep is so wonderfully restorative to your immune system; cutting back on drinking will help your body protect against harmful germs you might be encountering.
They love to drink tea
The act of drinking tea—as well as inhaling the steam that’s produced by a hot beverage—will stimulate hair follicles in the nose, making it easier for you to move germs out of your nose when you breathe. You may think that taking medicines can improve your health, but there are everyday medication habits that could make you sick.
They have a packed social calendar
iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund
You might not think having a social network would count a much as diet and exercise when it comes to good health. But studies have found good buddies can protect against everything from memory loss to heart attacks to infectious diseases. In The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, Stone shares the story of Sydney Kling, a former nurse and teacher, who can’t remember being ill in all her 75 years. She credits this to the fact that she is constantly seeking out new friends. Sociability, she claims, increases self-esteem, which in turn, supports the immune system. Here’s some other ways you can easily boost your immune system.
They don’t skimp on protein
People who eat less protein have been found to have weaker immune systems. Try to include foods that are rich in protein during every meal so you don’t fall susceptible to that cold that seems to be plaguing everyone else in the office. Here are 10 common mistakes you probably make that actually make you sick.
They keep their hands to themselves
In public spaces, be mindful of what you’re touching and, whenever possible, keep your hands to yourself. Things like subway poles and stair banisters have been touched by hundreds of people before you and harbor countless harmful germs. Here’s how to know if your commute is making you sick and what to do about it.
They book massages
Strengthen your immune system by treating yourself to a massage every few weeks. Your circulation will improve and your cells will be nourished with additional oxygen and blood, both of which can boost your immune system.
They watch their sugar intake
Sugar impedes upon the ability of white blood cells to destroy the viruses and bacteria entering your system, so steering clear of added sugar will help you to stop getting sick. Here are 25 other reasons sugar is making you sick.
They don’t touch their face
If you’re a chronic nail-biter or constantly find yourself touching your face, put a stop to this habit and you’ll find yourself getting sick a lot less. Each time you find yourself reaching for your face, remind yourself that you’re transferring harmful germs to your nose and mouth. Now check out these other body parts you should never touch.
They get fresh air
While many people think that cold air causes you to get sick during the winter months, it is actually more time spent inside that is making you sick. Try to spend a little time outside each day, regardless of the temperature. Still getting sick during the end of the year? Here are some unexpected reasons you get sick during the holidays.
They know how to chill out
Maybe you’re a stickler for Zumba, you have favorite music that instantly mellows you out, or curling up with a novel makes the stress of a day melt away. Whatever the method, regular de-stressing is a critical habit of people who don’t get sick. If you’re constantly frazzled, you’re at higher risk for everything from a heart attack to diabetes to irritable bowel syndrome. Here are the signs stress is making you sick.
They take vitamins
It’s important to take your vitamins regularly. One supplement that you might be forgetting? Brewer’s yeast: It’s full of B vitamins, protein and trace minerals, all vital for good health and preventing illness.
They wash their pet’s food bowl
Your pet’s food bowl could actually be making you and your family sick if you don’t wash it frequently. A study by NSF International showed that pet food bowls ranked as the fourth dirtiest place in the house. Regardless of if you feed your pet dry or wet food, the bowl can keep a residue that attracts bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. These are the pet food brands vets really buy.
They pack their own sheets
Typically, most people only pack their own beach towels when going on vacation. But it might be handy to pack your own bed sheets, too. Put your sheets over the one on the hotel bed to create a barrier between yourself and unknown germs. These other hotel hacks will keep you healthy throughout your entire trip.
They don’t go to work sick
Over 60 percent of Americans said that they would still go to work sick. That’s just not healthy. Need help sticking close to home? Here are 7 rules to follow when you call in sick.
They get flu shots
Andrew Sussman, MD, CEO of Medforth Global Healthcare Education, says that the most effective way to avoid getting sick is by getting the flu shot. Here are more tips from on how to stop getting sick.
They lift weights
Going to the gym is good for losing weight, which ultimately can improve your health. But to avoid getting sick, lifting weights could do just the trick, Stone says in his book. It can reduce the likelihood of heart disease and even depression.
They have stronger vacuums
Everyone buys a vacuum with the assumption it will suck up all the dirt and grime from their floors and leave them with a clean and shiny house. But studies have shown that it’s more common than not for vacuums to actually release dirt and bacteria back into your home. Cleaning your vacuum regularly is the secret to staying healthy at home. Next, check out 50 more ways to avoid catching a cold this season.
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- Andrew Sussman, MD, CEO, Medforth Global Healthcare Education, New York, NY.
- Gene Stone, author, The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick
- North American Journal of Medical Sciences: “Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body.”
- American Heart Association: “Stress and Heart Health.”
- UPenn Department of Health: “Cold Weather Outdoor Play Boosts Immune System.”
- UC Irvine Health: “Wash your hands, avoid your T-zone, to prevent infection.”
- PLOS One: “Protein Malnutrition Impairs the Immune Response and Influences the Severity of Infection in a Hamster Model of Chronic Visceral Leishmaniasis.”
- Mayo Clinic: “Friendships: Enrich Your Life and Improve Your Health.”
- National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: “Sleep, Sleepiness and Alcohol Use.”
- NSF: “Cleaning the Germiest Home Items.”