Habits to Steal from People Who Never Get Sick

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How to Never Get Sick: Start These Healthy Habits

How to Never Get Sick: Start These Healthy Habits

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What’s the secret?
Habits to Steal from People Who Never Get Sick

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How many times a year do you get sick? Many people might think it’s normal to fight the sniffles or stay in bed slurping chicken noodle soup every time the seasons change or after returning home from a long trip. But what about that friend or coworker who never seems to feel under the weather — what’s their secret? People who rarely get sick might just be lucky or have an especially strong immune system, but they also practice certain habits everyone can use.

Wash your hands

Wash your hands

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It may seem obvious, but frequently and properly washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Key times to wash your hands are: before, during and after preparing food; before eating food; after using the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; and after touching garbage.

Keep everyday items clean

Keep everyday items clean

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Healthy people know to wash not only their hands but to also clean and disinfect the items and surfaces they touch most often throughout the day. Door knobs, light switches, car keys and phones harbor tons of hidden bacteria. Your credit cards and your steering wheel are also a few things you never thought to clean, but really should.

Don’t share personal items

Don’t share personal items

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According to the CDC, the flu virus can “live” on some surfaces for up to 48 hours. Beyond using CDC-approved cleaning products to regularly clean your home, another strategy to help you from unintentionally catching something from someone in your household is to not share personal items such as towels, bedding, dishes, utensils or drinking glasses.

Use a humidifier

Use a humidifier

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Humidifiers provide soothing moisture to dry skin, irritated nasal passages and your throat and that may help ease symptoms of a cold or other respiratory conditions. Research suggests that the flu virus is also more likely to thrive in a dry environment. A study published by the digital journal PLOS One found that keeping a room at high humidity can “significantly reduce the infectivity of aerosolized virus.” Just make sure you know how to clean your humidifier and other parts of your home properly.

Get a flu shot

Get a flu shot

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According to the CDC, the single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated every year. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October every year, especially people who are at high risk of serious complications.

Get regular checkups

Get regular checkups

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Regular checkups with your doctor can not only nip any health issues in the bud and catch problems before they start, but they can also help you feel more informed and empowered in your own health journey. Having an open and honest relationship with a health professional helps keep you accountable when it comes to healthy habits that can lead to less sickness overall.

Eat immune-boosting foods

Eat immune-boosting foods

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You shouldn’t try to shore up your body’s defenses overnight. Incorporating immune-boosting foods such as garlic, bananas and broccoli — America’s favorite vegetable — can strengthen your immune system year-round. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and vitamins can help your body fight off infections.

Get enough Vitamin D

Get enough Vitamin D

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While vitamin C might be famously associated with boosting immune function, other vitamins are necessary for proper immune function as well. Vitamin D in particular plays a critical role in immune function and deficiency in it is linked to increased susceptibility to infection, including the cold and flu. Vitamin D is naturally present in a few foods you should add to your diet.

Taste the rainbow

Taste the rainbow

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If you’re intimidated by overhauling your diet to boost your immunity, one easy strategy is to try to eat foods in all colors of the rainbow. The more colorful your plate, the greater variety of necessary nutrients you are getting, according to UCLA Health. In particular, try to incorporate fresh produce in the hues of blue, green, orange and red.

Drink tea

Drink tea

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While coffee and tea both have their health benefits and are among the things you should consume every day, tea in particular can boost your immune system. For example, the flavonoids in black tea combat inflammation and support healthy immune function, while green tea strengthens the immune system because it protects it against oxidants and radicals.

Take deep breaths

Take deep breaths

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Stress can have many scary effects on the body you might not realize. Stress releases hormones like cortisol that suppresses the action of white blood cells and inflammation, which is actually needed to activate immune cells. So keeping stress levels in check is vital to staying healthy. One of the best ways to reduce stress and improve your immune system is through yoga, meditation, deep breathing and similar practices. Multiple studies at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that people who practiced mindful meditation experienced lower rates of colds, flu and flu-like illnesses. If they did get sick, their illnesses were shorter and less severe.

Quit smoking

Quit smoking

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Cigarette smoking is a habit that can not only lead to cancer but also harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases and reduces the health of smokers in general, according to the CDC. One of its many negative effects on the body includes decreased immune function. Quitting smoking can help you stay young and stay healthy.

Drink plenty of water

Drink plenty of water

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Staying hydrated is key to maintaining a healthy immune system.  How much water should you drink in a day? A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. If you’re not sure you’re getting enough, keep an eye out for the signs your body is dehydrated.

Eat regularly

Eat regularly

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Intermittent fasting may be a trendy diet, but maintaining a regular healthy eating pattern supports a healthy and balanced immune system. Eating on a regular schedule gives your body the fuel it needs to function properly and fend off sickness. Research suggests that eating at least three times per day can keep you full and reduce hunger, while eating fewer than three times a day puts you at risk for overeating and choosing less healthy foods.

Don’t bite your nails (or touch your face)

Don’t bite your nails (or touch your face)

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Hands touch many different surfaces throughout the day. They also have a funny habit of finding their way into our mouth and eyes and even our nose. Germs can easily enter the body this way — people who are rarely sick know to keep their hands off. If you do need to touch your face, especially your eyes, nose or mouth, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer first.

Get enough ZZZs

Get enough ZZZs

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Don’t skimp on sleep — one of the most effective ways to prevent sickness is simply getting enough shut-eye. If you don’t get enough sleep or quality sleep, you are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus like the common cold. It will also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

Practice self-care

Practice self-care

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Chronic stress has a negative impact on your immune system, suppressing your immune response to diseases. You might not be able to control sources of stress like a high-pressure work environment or relationships with family, friends or coworkers, but you can find ways to help manage your stress so your body can maintain a strong immune system. Self-care habits that take care of our minds and body, such as learning a new hobby, taking a warm bath and journaling, are good ways to take “me time” for people who never do.

Stay connected

Stay connected

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Humans are social creatures, and spending time with other people is actually good for your immune system. Research has linked loneliness and social isolation with a weaker immune response and decreased antiviral responses. Maintain important relationships with friends and family by scheduling social time, whether that’s having a movie night or taking a little weekend getaway to unwind.

Go outside

Go outside

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Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin, and one of the best ways humans can get it is from exposure to sunlight. Getting outside will get you your daily dose of this vitamin, encourage physical activity, improve your mood and help you get better sleep. Studies have also linked nature to enhanced immune function and accelerated recovery from surgery or illness. Take a quick walk on your lunch break or plan a scenic hike at one of the gorgeous national parks near you.

Get moving

Get moving

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Many people know that physical activity is good for things like weight loss and heart health, but a regular exercise routine can actually make a difference in the number of sick days you need to take. Regular exercise can enhance immune defense activity and metabolic health, and studies have shown that leading a physically active lifestyle reduces the incidence of communicable diseases like bacterial and viral infections as well as and non-communicable diseases like cancer. Even a simple stroll can do wonders — in fact, there are many reasons why taking walks outside can change your life.

Adopt a pet

Adopt a pet

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If you feel like there is something incredibly soothing about having a sweet, furry creature to keep you company, it’s not in your imagination. Having a pet, especially a dog, is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and greater longevity as well as reduced stress. Having a pet also increases your opportunities for exercise. Reducing stress and exercising both support a healthy immune system.

Cut back on alcohol

Cut back on alcohol

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According to the CDC, over time, excessive alcohol use weakens the immune system, increasing your chances of getting sick. This includes diseases like pneumonia and certain cancers as well as other health issues like poor wound healing, a higher incidence of postoperative complications, and slower and less complete recovery from infection and physical trauma. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people limit themselves to moderate alcohol consumption, which is up to one drink per day for women up to two drinks per day for men.

Clean the kitchen carefully

Clean the kitchen carefully

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There are so many other ways to get sick besides catching a cold and the flu. Food poisoning is caused by a variety of bacteria that could be lurking in your home, especially in the dirtiest room in your house: the kitchen. Bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli can make you and your family sick if you’re not properly cooking your food and regularly cleaning and sanitizing surfaces like countertops and cutting boards.

Take a vacation

Take a vacation

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You really do need to take a vacation. If you work for a company that provides paid time off, it’s actually beneficial to your health to use that time. According to the American Psychological Association, taking a vacation gives you time and space to recover from workplace stress and experience positive effects that also improve your well-being and job performance.

Maintain a healthy gut

Maintain a healthy gut

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People who rarely fall ill know that probiotics and foods that support gut health help support your body’s proper immune responses. You can get probiotics by taking a daily probiotic supplement or from foods like yogurt — just make sure that you stick to varieties without too much added sugar. Yogurt can be among those “healthy” foods that you should actually avoid.

 

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