Gene Stone has been writing about health (among other topics) for more than two decades and is a mine of information on what affects our health from nutrition, alternative remedies,
herbs, life style factors and the studies and medical research done in these areas.
n his latest book The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick he interviewed 25 people about the secret to their perfect health.
Stone actually interviewed about 100 people for the book about their secrets to good health, but he picked out the 25 featured in the book because their methods were the ones which he could verify because there had been studies done, or medical proof or that any one reading the book could do themselves.
The secrets range from food secrets, why to eat garlic, eat more probiotics, become a vegan, drink a tonic of brewer’s yeast. Exercise secrets—the benefits of lifting weights, the power of stretching. Environmental secrets—living in a Blue Zone (places which have high average of active centenarians). Emotional secrets—seek out and stay in touch with friends, cultivate your spirituality. Physical secrets—nap more, take cold showers in the morning to the use of herbs and spices and their healing properties.
The book is set out with the person’s account of their secret but also Stone’s research into evidence on why the secret might work.
For instance the person whose secret is a cold shower every morning, research seems to back them up as cooler showers can help increase your white blood cell count which in turn fights illness. Garlic is known to have anti bacterial effects and helps lower cholesterol.
One of the more bizarre secrets is an 60 year old entrepreneur Bill Thompson who puts down has extraordinary health to dunking his head in a solution of hydrogen peroxide every morning. Stone says that even if there are no studies to prove this does keep you healthy, “it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.”
Believing in their system did seem to be a key factor in its effectiveness as Stone says, ”What all of the people had in common was they had a positive attitude and believed in what ever there secret was.” He points out that a lot of research has also gone into the placebo effect as it were, if people are told they are being given something which is good for them it can have the same results as people who actually get it.
Stone also points out that some of the secrets contradict each other, an example would be two women in their 80s who Stone describes as “amazing”, one is an 86 year old runner, who at 75 did a 145 mile race through the Himalayas and attributes her good health to running; the other is an 83 year old working archaeologist who makes a drink of brewer’s yeast every day but does not believe in any other health remedies. Then there’s the “napping man” who takes naps but does not take exercise.
Could it be that these people have good genes rather than the secret being effective? Stone says yes but it is not the whole picture. “Genetics does play a part but more and more research proves that you can change your genetic disposition through the correct life style choices.”
He sites his own experience, “I had raised blood cholesterol and after just one month on a vegan diet I had lowered it -my doctor could not believe it”.
If they have one thing in common the personality types were all proactive and positive people; they took a procedure and stuck to it. “One of the hidden secrets is to have the willpower to do any of the secrets. But if you can just be a little proactive you will feel so much better.”
He thinks too many people are in the mind set of, “If I get sick I can take a pill and it will sort it rather than trying not to get sick in the first place. People in the book took responsibility for their own health and made themselves healthy.”
He has not taken up all the practices mentioned in the book but he has a vegan diet and keeps active. He says it makes sense because “I want to feel good,” he also points out that maintaining health means putting less stress on your body which means you are more likely to live a longer, healthier, more active life.
For those setting off with more healthy goals in mind for the new year his advice is take one step at a time.
“First step is to make up your mind you’re going to do something. Make it the simplest thing it could be – making friends. It could be to have cinnamon toast instead of plain toast, (cinnamon may have cholesterol-lowering effects and blood regulation making it good for Diabetes) you could start taking brewer’s yeast. Start with the simplest step that will make you feel good.”