Do you have a friend that never gets sick? The lucky friend who seem to be able avoid colds altogether, whether it’s sunny or cold or whether she’s in the middle of a subway train filled with people sniffling?
I’ve always wondered – how do they exactly do it? Are they really blessed with superhuman immune systems? Well, not quite — after spending some time researching it’s very likely they’ve picked up some smart habits that protect them from illness. Here are 6 smart habits that will help you stave off illness and save on medical bills and flu-shots in the long-run.
1. They Have A Set Bedtime.
Research shows that those who sleep eight hours or more per night are three times less likely to develop a cold compared to people who snooze for less than seven hours. One reason why: At night, your body repairs itself and regulates stress hormones that can make you more susceptible to infection.
2. They Eat Their Colors.
Filling up on antioxidant-rich foods like sweet potatoes (beta-carotene), citrus and bell peppers (vitamin C), almonds (vitamin E), and red grapes or red wine (resveratrol) replenishes the cells that are damaged in the fight against germs and bacteria.
3. They Shape Their Guts.
You bring the outside world into your mouth every day, and though most bacteria and germs are harmless, some can make you sick. That’s where your gut gets in on the action. Good bacteria can enhance your immune system, so you may want to consider taking a probiotic supplement — which contains helpful bacteria — during cold and flu season.
Try a multi-strain formula (find in your local health-food market or grocery store). If you want to skip supplements, eat more fermented foods, like sauerkraut.
4. They Wash Their Hands.
You don’t have to go crazy with hand washing. You can reduce illness by 15 to 50 percent if you remember to wash your hands before eating, before and after prepping food, post-bathroom, and after sneezing or coughing.
Soap and water are preferred (scrub for 20 seconds), but keep hand sanitizer around to de-germ on the go too. Look for one formulated with at least 60 percent alcohol.
5. They Hug It Out.
Make a date to get together with a friend — especially if you’re dealing with problems at home or work, suggests research in the journal Psychological Science. People with the most “social support” when faced with a stressful situation were less likely to get ill if exposed to a cold virus — and hugging enhanced the immunity benefit.
6. They Say “Om”.
One study found that gentle yoga (plus breathing exercises) strengthens immune function and the boost happens within two hours after the start of class, according to research in the journal PLOS ONE. Try classes that combine light yoga with deep breathing and meditation, like restorative yoga.