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?
Mind Over Body
Atlanta interior designer Melissa Galt believes in a "mind over medicine" attitude. "I don't have time for sickness in my life," says Galt, who travels frequently and doesn't take anything to fight germs. "I don't believe in it and don't acknowledge it."
Every thought is accompanied by a chain of biochemical reactions in your body, says Northrup. So a positive attitude can increase levels of nitric oxide, which help to balance neurotransmitters, improve immunity, and increase circulation, she says.
"Whenever nitric oxide levels are high -- from anything ranging from positive thought to exercise -- you're actually improving your resistance to disease," she says.
Just Say Om
Santa Monica, Calif., yoga therapist Felice Rhiannon credits her meditation and breathing practices for improving her physical and emotional health. "Meditation practice helps to calm my nervous system and allows the immune system to function with less interference," she says. For Rhiannon, "A calmer mind means a calmer body."
"The greatest change is in my peace of mind and sense of ease," she says. "I don't get colds as often as I did when I was younger. My sleep is better and my ability to cope with life's inevitable stresses has improved."
In a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine in 2003, researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Harvard University found that volunteers who participated in eight weeks of mediation training produced significantly more flu-fighting antibodies than those who didn't meditate.
Increase Your Social Ties
There are personality factors associated with individuals who are resistant to getting colds when they're exposed to a virus, says Sheldon Cohen, PhD, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University whose research examines the effects of stress and social support on immunity and health.
For example, extroverts are less likely than introverts to get colds when exposed to a virus. "We actually control for their immunity," he says. "The explanation isn't that extroverts interact with more people, and therefore have immunity to that virus. There's something about being extroverted that seems to protect people."
Having a diverse social network is equally important, says Cohen. Individuals who belong to multiple social groups are less likely to develop colds when exposed to a virus. There's convincing literature in epidemiology that people who have more diverse social networks are also less likely to get heart disease and live longer, he adds.