How to Never Get Sick, According to Those Who Always Avoid Illnesses
Want to know how to never get sick? These tips will point you in the right direction.
Every cold and flu season, we all do our best to stay healthy. But it can feel like no matter how early we get the flu shot or how often we wash our hands, we still come down with some sort of bug. So, what's the trick to avoiding illnesses this winter? We've rounded up some tips on how to never get sick from those who manage to achieve such a feat. Because who better is there to dole out health advice than those who are actually practicing what they preach? Read on for all the ways you can survive cold and flu season scot-free this year!
Maintain a healthy diet.
Thomas Edison wasn't just one of the smartest people who ever lived, but also one of the healthiest. His secret? Dieting. "People eat too much and drink too much. If the doctors would prescribe diet instead of drugs, the ailments of normal man would disappear," Edison said in an interview in 1929 (at 82 years old) about how to never get sick. "Diet is the secret of my health."
If you're not sure which diet to follow specifically, try the Mediterranean diet. One 2014 meta-analysis published in the journal Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders – Drug Targets notes it "could counter the effects of several inflammatory markets."
Eat plenty of garlic.
Oddly enough, some people credit garlic with their strong immune systems. For example, in author Gene Stone's 2012 book The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, then-51-year-old Susan Brown said that once she started consuming garlic consistently, she stopped getting sick.
"One night, when I thought I was getting sick, I cut off a glove of raw garlic, let it dissolve in my mouth, and the cold was gone. Now, any time I think I'm getting sick, I start with the garlic three times a day, and within 24 hours, I feel fine," Brown said. And it's not a placebo effect, either: One 2014 study from the University of Copenhagen showed that there is a chemical compound in garlic called ajoene that prevents bacteria from harming the immune system.
Spend time with friends and family.
Another secret to never getting sick might just lie in your social network. In Stone's book, former nurse and teacher Sydney Kling credited socializing to her resilient immune system. The only time she was ever in the hospital was for the birth of her four children, and "she believes what's kept her healthy through all the moves and jobs is her intense social networking," Stone writes.
And there are scientific studies to back up Kling's theory. One 2002 analysis of two studies published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, for instance, concluded that positive social experiences are associated with lower allostatic load, AKA less wear and tear inside the body.
Don't overdo it when it comes to cleanliness.
There is such a thing as going overboard with your hygiene habits. And according to perpetually healthy Patricia Burke, who's also featured in Stone's book, one of the secrets to never getting sick is exposing yourself to germs. And yes, that sometimes means consuming those germs… literally.
"I drop food and I eat it. I don't care," Burke told Stone. "I think exposing myself to a little bit of 'sick' allows my body to create its own defenses against passing germs, dirt, viruses, or whatever." Whether she knows it or not, Burke's beliefs are based on the "hygiene hypothesis," a theory that revolves around the idea that exposure to so-called "unclean conditions" builds up a person's immune system.
Take cold showers.
Nate Halsey has bungee jumped in South Africa, hang glided in the French Alps, and run a 200-mile relay race—and yet, he spends hardly any time at hospital. So what's his secret to staying healthy? As Stone explains in his book, Halsey takes cold showers every morning in an effort to stay energized and keep his immune system strong.
And his logic is sound: One 2016 study published in the journal PLOS One found that when subjects took cold showers in the morning for 30 days, they took 29 percent fewer sick days than those who maintained their regular shower routine.
Want to look and feel like you're in your 40s even when you're well into your 60s? You might want to try weightlifting. "If you have the same muscle mass when 80 as when you're 30, few changes will take place in your body," Sasha Lodi, who's well into his 70s, explained to Stone. "Any form of exercise is good, but cardio by itself just does the heart. It does not address the muscles."
One 2017 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism backed up Lodi's beliefs: Researchers found that older adults who did high-intensity interval training saw a 69 percent increase in mitochondrial capacity, which halts aging at the cellular level and keeps you healthy, too.
Lodi also told Stone that he takes "every vitamin [and supplement] known to man," ranging from saw palmetto and pygeum to fish oil and DHEA. And a 2010 study published in the journal Nature Reviews Immunology found that vitamins A and D specifically "have an unexpected and crucial effect on the immune response."
Take a ton of naps.
In Stone's book, Sarnoff Mednick, PhD, the late director of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Southern California who died at 87, credited never coming down with the common cold or the flu to napping. And if the "PhD" after his name isn't enough to convince you to doze off, this might: In 2017, researchers at University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center studied 11 pairs of identical twins and found that those with shorter sleep durations had weaker immune systems.
Always look on the bright side.
Gail Evans spent several decades working at CNN, and not once did she take a sick day. In Stone's book, she credits her sick-free success to "benign neglect," saying, "If I do feel bad, I know I can conquer it immediately. It's about attitude."
Of course, a positive attitude isn't going to get rid of a cancerous lump, but there is evidence to suggest that optimism can benefit the immune system. One 2010 study published in Psychological Science found that when law school students were injected with a dose of dead mumps virus, their immunity increased with their optimism.
Manage your stress levels.
"I don't let stress into my life, even when it tries really, really hard to enter it," Susan Smith Jones told Stone. Jones has devoted her life to both teaching and practicing holistic health, and evidently, the stress-free and sick-free healer has never needed to take medication.
And there's serious merit to what Jones is saying. As the American Psychological Association (APA) notes, the relationship between stress and immunology is so strong that there is even a name for the study of it: psychoneuroimmunology.
Self-proclaimed "spiritual hippie" Felice Rhiannon—whose only serious illness is a genetic blood disorder—is a firm believer in the health benefits of yoga. "Traditionally, the yoga poses were taught to prepare the body for meditation," she explained to Stone, meaning your body is more relaxed and better able to fight off infections. A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Yoga confirms that theory: Researchers found that when students performed yoga for 35 minutes daily for 12 weeks, their immune systems were not negatively impacted by stress like control subjects' immune systems were.
Make sure you're getting enough vitamin C.
It's no secret that vitamin C is good for the immune system. And Susan Rennau, a nurse coordinator who hasn't been sick since 2006, swears by the nutrient when it comes to her health. "Since I've started taking the C, there have been three or four times I've felt I might be starting to get a sore throat, but then it goes away," she told Stone.
Consume brewer's yeast every morning.
It might sound strange, but it works for Barbara Pritzkat. The surveyor who seldom gets sick drinks a powder form of the product every morning, and in taking to Stone, she said she credits it for her good health. WebMD notes that brewer's yeast is a good source of vitamin B and protein and that it can "improve the body's defenses against viral lung infections such as flu and the common cold." So it's definitely worth giving it a try!