12 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.

1/12 View as List

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. Try these tips for taking a nap that energizes you.

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. These other habits could make your insomnia worse.

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. Check out these other natural habits that boost your immune system.

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. Check out these 24 little ways to be a good friend.

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’s how to eat more protein without even trying.

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 bannisters have been touched by hundreds of people before you and harbor countless harmful germs. If you making these hand washing mistakes, you could raise your risk of getting sick.

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, which can boost your immune system. Consider these tips for a soothing self massage.

They watch their sugar intake


Sugar impedes upon the ability of white blood cells to destroy viruses and bacteria entering your system, so steering clear of added sugar will help you to stop getting sick. These are signs you’re eating too much sugar.

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. "I wash my hands all the time and open doors and touch elevator buttons with a clean tissue whenever possible," Dan Collins, who works in media relations at a Baltimore hospital, told Prevention. "When I return to my desk, I immediately grab my supply of antibacterial hand wipes. And whenever my eye itches, I never use the tip of my finger to scratch unless I can sanitize my finger first; instead, I use my knuckle or the back of my hand, as these areas have had less contact with germs than my fingertips."

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. These are 15 good reasons to take a 15-minute walk.

1/12 View as List

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.