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Ways to fight off illness and stay healthy

March 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Humans carry up to 10 million germs between just their fingers and elbows every day. If you're coming down with too many illnesses too often, there may be help. Here are a few secrets to why some people never get sick.

Dawn von Graff used to get so sick she was begging the wishing well for help. She had pills for her cough and for the sniffles, but nothing worked.

"Instead you try to fix the symptoms, but you're not addressing the real issue, which is your decimated immune system," said von Graff.

Gene Stone, an author and journalist, felt the same way so he sought some new advice.

"I was seeing lots of people who weren't getting sick, so it occurred to me that maybe I was talking to the wrong people, maybe I should be talking to the people who never get sick and find out what their secrets are," he said.

His book, "The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick," runs the germ-fighting-gamut.

"In a teacup, I take 3/4 of a cup of pasteurized egg whites, and then add one little bottle of the DanActive yogurt, which is the probiotic," said Dr. Tony Japour, an internal medicine physician in Miami Beach, Florida.

Dr. Japour wrote a chapter on probiotics, which are live bacteria found in yogurt, cheese and bananas.

Studies show cheese and bananas boost your immune system and may slow some cancer tumor growth.

And do you like garlic? A new study shows people that eat garlic reduced the number of days they were sick by more than half. It's also been shown to fight off the staph infection bug.

Of course you could always move to one of the earth's blue zones - spots with the least sick people. Middle-aged death is lowest in Costa Rica, and Okinawa, Japan has the longest disability-free life expectancy.

"The difference since I've been doing this has been unbelievable. I'm literally a new person now," said von Graff.

She improved her diet and added probiotics, and hasn't had a cold in three years.

Perhaps the best way to stay healthy is to stop touching your nose, mouth and eyes with your hand. It seems bacteria and pathogens use your hands to enter your body.


BACKGROUND: A strong immune system is your body's best defense for warding off viruses, and staying flu-free. Your first line of defense should be adopting a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating healthy, not smoking, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. There are several other strategies that may help rev up your immune system. Below are a few natural immune system boosters that may help you fight off the flu and other illnesses. (SOURCE: www.health.harvard.edu)

PROBIOTICS: Probiotics are healthy bacteria that occur naturally within the intestines. They fight off the harmful bacteria that cause illness and diseases. They also help the intestines with digestion and nutrient absorption. A recent study published in Pediatrics shows that a daily supplement of probiotics can cut the incidence of cold and flu-like symptoms in kids by 50 percent. Some food sources loaded with probiotics are probiotic yogurts, buttermilk, sauerkraut and Japanese miso soup.

VITAMINS: A diet rich in antioxidant vitamins can also help your body fight off infection. Your body naturally produces molecules that can damage cells. Antioxidants help neutralize those molecules so they don't do any damage. Some of the best antioxidants include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc. To get enough of these antioxidants in your diet, experts recommend eating a lot of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and green, black, or even white tea. Daily multi-vitamins can also help do the trick. (SOURCE: www.webmd.com)

FOODS AND HERBS: Other immune-boosting foods include fresh garlic, and old-fashioned chicken soup. A study showed that a bowl of chicken soup can actually boost immunity and help you get well faster. Other helpful foods include berries, citrus fruits, oysters, spinach, cabbage, and carrots. There are also several herbs that can aid in immune system health. One of the strongest herbs is astragalus. According to vitamins-supplements.org, astragalus is known to stimulate the immune system while protecting the body against a number of other toxins. Herbs like cat's claw, ginseng, goldenseal and sage can also provide big benefits.

For more information, you can e-mail Gene Stone at gene@secretsofpeople.com.