In The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick author Gene Stone profiles 25 people who are almost preternaturally healthy to find how they've successfully fended off illness their whole lives, then looks for the scientific evidence behind their claims. Here are a few of his easy-to-follow tips:
1. Hydrogen Peroxide. Every morning, Bill Thompson, a 63-year-old business owner, fills his bathroom sink with lukewarm water, adds a coffee-cupful of hydrogen peroxide, closes his eyes and dunks his head in the bowl, blowing air out of his nose to get the mixture circulating. Why? Studies show that when the "good" bacteria in your body encounter harmful ones, they excrete a bit of hydrogen peroxide, so the theory is this might boost your natural germ-fighters. Thompson hasn't had a cold in two decades, and his doctor claims he has the EKG of a twenty-year-old.
2. 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. The 82-year-old has taken an afternoon nap for most of his adult life and never suffers from colds or flu. The fact is, until about the 13th century and the invention of mechanical clocks, humans napped daily, and we'd do well to follow our ancestors' example. The best time for a short snooze: Between the hours of one and three in the afternoon.
3. Friends. 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. Sydney Kling, a former nurse and teacher, can't remember being ill in all her 75 years, and 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.
Among the other ways the book posits will help you to stay well and live longer:
4. Cold showers. A small body of scientific literature indicates exposure to cold water may increase the body's natural antioxidants.
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5. Stress reduction. If you're constantly frazzled, you're at higher risk for everything from a heart attack to diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome or so researchers think.
6. Brewer's yeast. It's packed with B vitamins, protein and trace minerals, all vital for good health.
7. Lifting Weights. Regular weight training may reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, colon and breast cancer, depression and diabetes.
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