10 Secrets for Avoiding Illness From People Who Never Get Sick
Want to know how to never get sick? These tips will point you in the right direction.
Any time there's a bug going around, 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 something. And with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic taking a devastating toll across the globe, people are more concerned about getting sick than ever before. With that in mind, we've rounded up some tips from those people who somehow manage to always avoid illness. Because who better to dole out health advice than those who actually practice what they preach? Read on for all the ways you can increase your chances of successfully skirting common illnesses like cold and flu.
Editor's note: The following pieces of advice do not necessarily apply directly as best practices to follow during the coronavirus outbreak. For those specific guidelines, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Start your day with a cold shower.
Nate Halsey has bungee jumped in South Africa, gone hang gliding in the French Alps, and run a 200-mile relay race—yet, he spends hardly any time at hospital. So what's his secret to staying healthy? As Gene Stone explains in his 2012 book, The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, Halsey takes cold showers every morning in an effort to stay energized and keep his immune system strong.
Apparently he was on to something: According to a 2016 study published in the PLOS One, 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.
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," an 82-year-old Edison said in a 1929 interview 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. A 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 Stone's book, then-51-year-old Susan Brown said that once she started consuming garlic consistently, she stopped getting sick."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.
Brown's method doesn't appear to be a placebo effect, either: A 2014 study from the University of Copenhagen showed that there is a chemical compound in garlic called ajoene that actually prevents bacteria from harming the immune system.
A man in his 70s says in Stone's book that he swears by supplements, claiming he takes "every vitamin [and supplement] known to man"—ranging from saw palmetto and pygeum, to fish oil and DHEA. And according to a 2010 study published in the journal Nature Reviews Immunology, there is some evidence they work—at least when it comes to vitamins A and D, which the study says "have an unexpected and crucial effect on the immune response." And if you're wondering if you're not getting enough of a certain nutrient, check out 20 Surprising Signs You Have a Vitamin Deficiency.
Get plenty of rest.
In Stone's book, Sarnoff Mednick, PhD, the late director of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Southern California who passed away at 87, credited never coming down with the common cold or the flu to napping. And if Mednick's impressive credentials don't convince you to get some solid shuteye, 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.
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 said in Stone's book. 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.
The relationship between stress and the immune system is so strong, in fact, that the American Psychological Association (APA) even has 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 those of the control subjects.
Make sure to get 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 as she said to Stone, she credits it for her good health. WebMD also 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.
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.