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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Secrets of Super-Healthy People

Some people never seem to get sick. What are they doing that the rest of us aren't to keep illness at bay?
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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 under stress.

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 groups.

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.

Don't Worry, Conquer Stress

Stop worrying about getting sick. The fear and expectation of having something adverse happen actually lowers immunity, says Northrup. "When people are worried about it all the time," she says, "they literally scare themselves to death."

Constant worrying causes cortisol and epinephrine levels to rise - and these stress hormones can weaken the body's overall immunity. "The immune system plummets when cortisol levels are chronically high," she says. "Your own body produces high levels of steroids when you're under constant stress."

Up Your Vitamin Intake

We have a worldwide epidemic of vitamin D deficiency, says Northrup. Everybody needs vitamin D, which can be found in foods like sockeye salmon, eggs, and milk.

Hyla Cass, MD, an integrative medical practitioner and author of 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health, adds that certain prescription drugs like acid blockers can deprive the body of nutrients like vitamin D.

Surveys show that Americans don't get enough vitamin C, says Elisabetta Politi, RD, MPH, CDE, nutrition director at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center.

Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C. "It's a myth that vitamin C prevents the cold," she says. "But having an appropriate amount of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables can boost immunity."

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