He interviewed more than 100 people who seemed never to fall ill, and wrote about the 25 techniques that seemed to work best.
According to ABC News, here are some of the best techniques:
- Chewing on a clove of garlic
- Starting off each day with brewer's yeast, which is rich in protein and B vitamins
- Eating less -- studies suggest that reducing daily calories by as little as 25 percent could have life-lengthening effects
- Vitamin C
The ABC News article above is based on former Esquire editor Gene Stone's book, The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick. The book compiles 25 tips from a diverse crowd -- ranging from actor George Burns to Stone's sixth-grade teacher -- who claim the secret weapons they describe keep them from getting sick.
Is this really possible?
You can definitely greatly lower your risk of coming down with a cold, flu or other illness by modifying your daily lifestyle habits. I haven't missed a day of work due to illness in over 30 years, so I speak from personal experience. I've also seen my health-conscious friends and colleagues enjoy similar benefits.
Are the Secrets in Stone's Book Worth Trying?
As for the secrets in Stone's book (and in the ABC News article above), there are some health-boosting gems, like eating a clove of garlic when you feel you're coming down with something.
Another strategy from the late George Burns, to eat less each day, is also potentially beneficial, as numerous studies have shown that lowering your caloric intake may slow down aging, reduce age-related chronic diseases and extend lifespan (but you should know, too, that the underlying factor that makes calorie restriction beneficial is not simply eating less … it is the lowering of insulin levels).
Vitamin C is also mentioned as a preventive strategy for colds and flu, and it has shown promise for treating infectious disease, especially when used intravenously. There is also evidence that taking supplemental vitamin C routinely helps prevent viral infections.
However, this is one strategy I would use caution on, as every nutrient needs certain synergistic nutrients, and if you are already low in those synergistic nutrients, taking more of one thing will only further deplete the existing deficient levels, worsening any problems relating to that nutrient's metabolism.
For example, taking large doses of vitamin C on a regular basis lowers your level of copper, so if you are already deficient in copper and take high doses of vitamin C, you can compromise your immune system.
Instead of relying on vitamin C supplements, your best bet is to eat a diet that is full of high-quality organic vegetables and eliminating sugar and processed foods. Not only will you get vitamin C, but you will get all the other accessory nutrients and micronutrients that are needed to optimize it.
Not Every "Secret" is a Good One
You've got to be very careful when taking health advice from anyone, as what works for one person may be disastrous for another. Case in point, Stone advocates eating only plant-based foods as part of his wellness strategy.
From my observations in treating over 25,000 patients, perhaps about one-third of the population would benefit from this recommendation. These people thrive on plant-based foods and have spectacular health. The problem is that there is an equally large, and likely even larger, population whose health is devastated by restricting animal protein and fats.
Forcing an animal-protein-free diet on everyone will invariably cause harm and suffering in many whose biochemically and genetically determined nutritional type requires large amounts of fat and protein. Stone also highlights a specific "magic potion" from an infectious diseases specialist that is based on pasteurized egg whites. Eggs are a phenomenal health food, especially when eaten raw, but consuming pasteurized eggs will neutralize many of the health benefits.
Also, when eating eggs raw you need to eat the entire egg, not only the whites. If you only consume raw egg whites, you are nearly guaranteed to develop a biotin deficiency (a B vitamin), as raw egg whites contain a glycoprotein called avidin that is very effective at binding biotin. However, egg yolks have one of the highest concentrations of biotin found in nature, which suggests that it will make up for the biotin you lose from consuming the raw egg white.
But eating ONLY raw egg whites? This is not something I would at all recommend.
Another glaring health "miss" mentioned by ABC News is Stone's decision to get an annual flu shot. I've written about this extensively in the past, but in a nutshell flu shots don't work, and there is increasing evidence that they're potentially harmful as well. So a flu shot is nowhere near my personal list of secrets to avoid getting sick.
My 5 Top Secrets to Avoid Getting Sick
- Optimize Your Vitamin D
This takes the number one position for a reason: if you're vitamin-D-deficient, and many are, your immune system will not activate to do its job.
Vitamin D also functions in many different tissues and affects a large number of different diseases and health conditions. So far, scientists have found about 3,000 genes that are regulated by vitamin D.
Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, including the flu. It produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. At least five studies show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and vitamin D levels. That is, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections.
Plus, studies have shown you can decrease your risk of cancer by MORE THAN HALF and lower your risk of many other common diseases -- like diabetes, heart disease, depression, hypertension and Alzheimer's disease -- simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels.
To find out more, including your best sources of vitamin D, dosing and what proper levels should be, please watch my free one-hour lecture.
- Optimize Your Insulin and Leptin Levels
Eating sugar and grains will increase your insulin level, which is one of the fastest ways to get sick and also experience premature aging. Leptin is another heavyweight hormone associated with disease and the aging process.
Like your insulin levels, if your leptin levels become elevated, your body systems will develop a resistance to this hormone, which will wreak havoc in your body.
Ron Rosedale, MD, who is one of the leading experts on leptin, does an excellent job of explaining the links between insulin, leptin, your weight and your overall health, and has done so in numerous articles posted on my site.
My nutrition plan, based on natural whole foods, is your first step toward optimizing your insulin and leptin levels and increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life. The heart of my program is the elimination, or at the very least, drastic reduction of grains and sugar in your diet, while focusing on the foods that are right for your unique biochemistry.
If you are exercising regularly, just as if your vitamin D levels are optimized, the likelihood of your acquiring an upper respiratory infection decreases quite dramatically, and studies have clearly shown this.
In one such study, staying active cut the risk of having a cold by 50 percent, and cut the severity of symptoms by 31 percent among those who did catch a cold. The researchers noted that each round of exercise may lead to a boost in circulating immune system cells that could help ward off a cold virus.
It's a well-known fact that exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The job of these cells is to neutralize pathogens throughout your body. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at locating and defending against viruses and diseases trying to attack your body.
Upon reviewing 40 papers published between 2006 and 2010, researchers found that exercise reduces the risk of about two dozen health conditions, ranging from cancer and heart disease to type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia and depression.
Exercise also slows down the rate of aging itself, providing perhaps the closest example of a real life fountain of youth as we will ever find.
Since exercise has repeatedly been proven to benefit your immune system over the long haul, it's crucial to treat exercise like a drug that must be properly prescribed, monitored and maintained for you to enjoy the most benefits.
Essentially, you need to have a varied routine like the Peak Fitness program I now highly recommend. The Peak Fitness program includes:
- Sprint 8 exercises
- Conventional aerobics
- Strength training
- Core exercises
Eat Plenty of Raw Food
One of the most important aspects of a healthy diet that is frequently overlooked is the issue of eating your food uncooked, in its natural raw state.
Unfortunately, as you may be aware, over 90 percent of the food purchased by Americans is processed. And when you're consuming these kinds of denatured and chemically altered foods, it's no surprise we have an epidemic of chronic and degenerative diseases, not to mention way too many cases of colds and flu.
Ideally you'll want to eat as many foods as possible in their unprocessed state; typically organic, biodynamic foods that have been grown locally, and are therefore in season.
But even when you choose the best foods available you can destroy most of the nutrition if you cook them. I believe it's really wise to strive to get as much raw food in your diet as possible. I personally try to eat about 80 percent of my food raw, including raw eggs and organic, naturally raised meats.
Learn How to Effectively Cope With Stress
In my past experience treating patients with serious chronic illnesses, the vast majority have previous emotional stress that contributed to their problem. And for most of the serious illnesses, the trauma stems back to their childhood.
But according to at least one recent study, it doesn't take serious trauma to cause these changes. Even normal "everyday" emotional experiences can have a detrimental impact on your future health.
Emotional stressors can also predispose you to an infection while making cold symptoms worse. Finding ways to manage daily stress as well as your reactions to circumstances beyond your control will contribute to a strong and resilient immune system.
My favorite tool for this is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a system that helps balance your body's subtle energies and repair emotional "short-circuits."
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does give you a general idea of how to live healthy and avoid getting sick. Other factors, like getting high-quality sleep and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins, are important too, but if you're looking for a few simple "secrets" to get started on today … start with those listed above.
Chances are that if you use them, you, too, will become one of the growing numbers of people who are using a healthful lifestyle to avoid getting sick.