We are well into the holiday season, and just like everything this year, the holidays will look different. There may be less travel and gatherings this year, and the unknowns may add an extra layer of stress to what is already a hectic time of year. Stress coupled with the change in season (meaning more time inside and less sunlight and fresh air), means higher risk of getting sick!
Boost Your Immune System! – A highly functioning immune system is key to fighting off potential illnesses. We can’t always avoid exposure to viruses and bacteria that make us sick, but having a healthy immune system allows our body to fight off the foreign invader the way it is designed! And the good news is, there are things you can do every day to help boost your natural immunity!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
EAT A WELL-BALANCED DIET
The holidays are filled with sweets and treats! Bigger meals and more indulgences means more sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates. While the occasional feast or treat is perfectly fine, be careful not to let the “holiday” excuse carry all through the winter. Continue to plan for healthy meals in between the big feasts. Fresh vegetables and fruit will boost your diet with antioxidants! Fresh meat, eggs, fish, oils, nuts and seeds will pack your diet with healthy fats. Long-grain rice and quinoa are great grains to have on hand as well! Stock up on frozen meat and veggies and canned beans. With the weather changing, it’s great to have healthy options at home in the event you can’t or don’t want to be out on the roads. Eating a nutritious diet is one of the best things you can do to optimize your health and not add extra stress to your body!
And as always, excessive alcohol and sugar should be avoided! These things directly impact the functioning of the immune system.
GET PLENTY OF REST/DON’T RUN YOURSELF DOWN
Sleep is crucial to the proper functioning of all systems of the body, including our immune system! If anything, try to get a more sleep than usual during this time. Stress drains our energy and makes us tired. Listen to your body and if you feel the need to go to bed early, sleep in, or take a nap, do it! There’s a reason we get tired when we are sick. Our body knows it needs rest to recover and heal! You can’t run on empty all the time and then expect to have the energy to fight off an infection. Give your body the rest it needs to function at its best!
Exercise helps keep the body and immune system functioning! Treat yourself to the holiday gift of fitness! Try out a new gym or exercise program you have always been curious about. There are lots of at-home options if your gym is closed or you don’t feel comfortable going. But remember, if you’re feeling run-down or stressed, don’t overdo it! Exercise can add additional stress to the body. Try going for walks, yoga, or things of more moderate intensity to keep you active but not over-stress your system. If you’re feeling healthy and energized, challenge yourself to a full-body HIIT program! Just make sure you are staying active during this time! It’s easy to want to cuddle up on the couch with some hot chocolate and binge watch TV, but our bodies need movement to function! Even things like cooking, cleaning, and laundry will keep you moving about and your metabolism going and help boost the immune system. Just try to avoid sitting all day, every day!
Drink water! All day, every day! Hydration is key to the proper functioning of the lymphatic system (which is part of the immune system). Being hydrated keeps the good things circulating and gets the bad things flushed out!
MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Stress directly impacts the immune system. Studies have shown psychological stress impacts if and how severely people are affected by the common cold. When we are stressed, our body simply cannot function at its best. Find a good source of stress-reduction that will work for you, whether it be meditation, journaling, walking, listening to music, prayer, yoga, etc. Find what brings you peace and stick with it!
Fresh air and sunlight greatly boost the immune system. Fresh air is calming, but also boosts your energy! A daily walk (weather permitting) should be part of everyone’s routine during this time. Even a short 10-15 minute break outside can do wonders for your physical and mental well-being! So bundle up and get out for some daylight and fresh air whenever you can!
Keeping your nervous system strong is one of the best ways to keep your immune system in tip top shape! Your nervous system controls every other system in your body, this includes your immune system!
TAKE SUPPLEMENTS TO BOOST IMMUNITY
Any extra boost will help right now! Vitamin D is so essential to immune function and most people are low, if not deficient. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) will also be crucial for overall health and immunity. If you’re concerned about the quality of your diet, adding a good quality multivitamin can help. Vitamin C and Zinc are also good additions this time of year. Superfood blends can give you an extra boost of antioxidants as well! Finally, a good probiotic is essential to optimize gut health, which is crucial for overall health!
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out! We are always here and dedicated to helping our patients and community Get Healthy and Stay Healthy!