Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years are all times of celebration, happiness, spending time with friends and loved ones and of course food; lots and lots of food. Being exposed to all this food, especially holiday sweets, celebrating, travel and added stress of the season can leave us vulnerable to illness. So trying to keep your immune system strong and maintaining good health can be very difficult. Ever wonder why so many people get sick early in the New Year? Stress can be just as harmful as those sugary treats we over indulge in.
If you’re someone who’s already dealing with an illness your immune system needs extra special care during the holidays. Here are a few survival tips to help get your through in best form.
- Eat Well – How you eat is the best way to prevent illness – sugary foods nourish disease causing microorganisms in our bodies and depletes your immune system up to a few hours each time. There’s nothing wrong with turkey and mashed potatoes; it’s the extra’s that add up quickly.
- Manage your stress – try to plan ahead with your cooking, cleaning, shopping or whatever it is that causes you extra anxiety. This is a good time to Ask for Help! If you feel really stressed often just sitting quietly for a few minutes and doing deep breathing or a walk outside can help.
- Stay active – Exercise will not only help you burn through some extra calories but is essential to maintain a strong immune system. Aim for at least 3 times per week incorporating some type of aerobic exercise with at least 20 minutes of weight bearing exercise. Building muscle (no ladies you won’t get all bulky) is THE best way to burn calories well after you’re done exercising.
- Drink plenty of pure water – There is a well-documented link between stress and dehydration. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces daily. For example if you are 150 lbs you should aim for 75 oz.’s per day; this takes into account our different sizes and activity levels as well.
- Get ample sleep – With everything going on, work, family, shopping, baking and get-togethers sleep is often sacrificed. Sleep is a must especially in times of stress and high activity. The Mayo clinic states that “Yes, lack of sleep can affect your immune system”.
- Make some You time – Don’t forget to take some time for yourself too even if it’s just a long bubble bath or reading a good book.
- Don’t Overeat – Instead of not eating all day and saving your appetite for the “Big” feast make sure to eat something earlier in the day so you aren’t ravenous. Eat slowly (take time to chew properly; this gives your brain time to realize where your stomach is at) and just enough to feel about 80% full, leaving room for proper digestion.
Want to Boost Your Immune System?
If you want to take some preventive steps to holiday proofing your health and avoiding post-holiday illness here are my top 3 suggestions.
- Probiotics – About 80% of your immune system is located in your digestive system which makes having a healthy gut a focal point if you want to obtain optimal health. Since the root of many health issues is related to imbalanced intestinal (gut) bacteria I recommend probiotics for all my clients.
Note * – many of us have an imbalance of gut flora due to poor diets, use of antibiotics and excess sugar and grains. So if you have digestive issues (acid reflux, indigestion, IBS etc.), vaginitis, repeated ear and bladder infections or food and skin allergies to mention a few chances are you also need these
- Multi-Vitamin – Taking a high quality, gender specific, multi-vitamin is one of the best ways to ensure your body is getting some important nutrients you may not get from your diet. They also contain antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E and Zinc, which help protect you against illness such as colds and flu’s.
Men and women are not created the same and we have different nutrient needs. For example men don’t typically require iron while many women do. I prefer Once a day, food based, formula’s such as Mega Food, One Daily (they also have age specific), Garden of Life; Raw One or New Chapter, One Daily.
- Vitamin D – Not just for bones and teeth. Estimates show that about 85% of the population is extremely deficient in this very critical vitamin. Supplementing with this vitamin is especially important during winter months since we don’t get enough, or any in some case, exposure to the sun. There is considerable evidence that shows D plays a key role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. Have your blood levels checked at least twice a year and be sure to optimize until you reach mid to high normal ranges. Review this chart to know best levels for you.
I wish you and your loved one’s a very happy and healthy holiday season. Best wishes for a joyful New Year.