Are you secretly envious of your co-workers and friends who, like
superheroes, never seem to get sick? You know, the ones glowing with good
health while everyone around them is sneezing, sniffling, and coughing like villains.
Don't hate the healthy people. Instead, steal the secrets of people who
manage to stay above the sickroom fray and take steps to boost your body's
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Jennifer Cassetta, a martial arts instructor in New York City, claims she
never gets sick, and neither do her father and grandmother, who also teach
martial arts. "I believe it is the holistic approach to exercise that calms the mind and
relieves stress," she says. "And
the cardio, strengthening, and
conditioning help boost the immune system."
Cassetta says her health has changed dramatically after she picked up
martial arts eight years ago. Before then, she was a smoking, take-out-every-night,
espresso-drinking girl in her 20s.
"As I started to train, I started to change my habits drastically,"
she says. "I cleaned up my diet, trained more, and quit smoking. Now in my 30s, I
have more energy, I look better, and am stronger than I ever have
One bout of vigorous exercise can increase circulation, says Christiane
Northrup, MD, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. "Whenever
circulation is increased, you get far more white blood cells," she says,
"so they check for foreign germs and are far more apt to be able to gobble
Pay Attention to Your Mouth
Chicago public relations consultant Joanna Broussard says gargling regularly
with an antiseptic mouthwash has helped improve
her dental health and may have helped fend off other illnesses.
Twelve years ago, Broussard's dental hygienist convinced her to gargle
consistently after brushing her teeth. "So I made the effort and got into
the habit every morning," she says, "Since then I have not had colds.
When people all around me have colds or the flu, I seem to be
Another reason to bone up on your brushing and gargling is that poor oral
hygiene and gum disease have been linked to
more serious illnesses, including diabetes.
An Apple a Day Really Works
Your mom may have been right when she said, "An apple a day keeps the
doctor away." A natural antioxidant called quercetin, found in red apples
as well as broccoli and green tea, may give an immunity boost to individuals
In a study conducted by David Nieman, PhD, professor at Appalachian State
University, results showed that only 5% of cyclists who took 1,000 milligrams
of quercetin every day for five weeks reported upper respiratory illness during
a two-week period following extreme exercise, whereas 45% of the cyclists who
took a placebo reported illness following extreme exercise. However, there were
no significant differences in measures of immune system function in the two
Additionally, researchers found that athletes taking the quercetin
supplement maintained better mental alertness and reaction time over the
placebo group. So go ahead, stock up on those red apples and you may be
thanking Mom later.