Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick

February 5, 2013


1. Get a massage.

Make it work for you: Any type of rubdown is fine, as long as you ask for moderate pressure. The therapist's touch should be vigorous enough to move or indent skin but not so hard that it causes pain.

How often do you need one? There's no science on that, but experts say once a month (or more) is worthwhile. Allow us to check with your insurance provider to see if it's covered.

2.Take a cold shower

Devotees claim cold showers help with low energy, migraines, circulation, and pain reduction. The scientific jury's still out on cold showers, but Mary Ann Bauman, MD, author of Fight Fatigue: Six Simple Steps to Maximize Your Energy, says there's no harm in trying.

Try small doses. Although a 10-minute cold shower might be tolerable in the summertime, in the winter you may want to opt for a 1-minute blast at the end of a warm shower. Consult your doctor if you have cardiovascular problems, because the sudden chill can cause a spike in blood pressure.

3.Take ginger

For centuries, ginger has been the go-to root for a wide range of gastrointestinal distresses, including constipation. Researchers believe its compounds stimulate digestive secretions, improve intestinal muscle tone, and help move food through the gastrointestinal tract.

Fresh ginger—sipped in tea or eaten straight-up—is best, says Sari Greaves, RD, of New York Presbyterian Hospital–Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. But ginger in other forms (dried, powdered, cooked) can be effective, too.

4. Wash your hands

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand-washing is the number-one action you can take to dodge the 1 billion colds Americans come down with annually (not to mention the bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, that cause foodborne illnesses).

Wash with regular soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice). Vigorously scrub all parts of your hands, not just palms, and check your fingernails for trapped dirt. Dry with paper towels, or designate a cloth hand towel for each member of your household.

5. Take Vitamin C and Zinc

Although vitamin C and zinc for cold prevention remain controversial, some studies show that C is helpful —especially for people who are under extreme stress—and that zinc can prevent viruses from multiplying. Experts say there's no harm in trying.

Neil Schachter, MD, director of respiratory care at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, in New York City, suggests taking a conservative amount of vitamin C (500 milligrams a day) at the first sign of a cold. (The Institute of Medicine advises drawing the line at 2,000 mg daily to avoid gastrointestinal or kidney problems.) As for zinc, Dr. Schachter suggests taking zinc lozenges several times a day when a cold starts.

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