Strong Immune System. Healthy You. Happy Holidays.By: Emily Parsons, Pn1
It’s that time of year again. Time for spending hours on Amazon while you’re pretending to work, staying out too late at parties on Wednesday nights and faking a big smile when your great aunt gives you a freshly knitted sweater…again. Unfortunately, this time of year is also synonymous with something a little more unpleasant – colds and flus. I have a big family full of little kids and, unfortunately, they have taken their lessons on sharing a little too far when it comes to the colds they bring home from school. It never seems to fail that as soon as one family member picks up a cold, it eventually finds its way to aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents- putting everyone out of commission one by one.
However, this year I’m determined to avoid the dreaded holiday season cold. Don’t get me wrong, I love snuggling up on the couch and having a Christmas movie marathon as much as the next person. I just prefer to have a mug of warm apple cider by my side instead of a giant box of Kleenex. So, if you’re on the same page as me this holiday season, check out the below 7 ways you can naturally boost your immune system and fight off those pesky colds before they strike.
1. Be Proactive with Probiotics– It’s estimated that 80% of your immune system can be found in your digestive tract, so it’s pretty important to keep it healthy when trying to fend off illness. Probiotics help bolster the ‘good bacteria’ found in your gut and take out the ‘bad bacteria’ that’s trying to make your holiday a little less jolly. Great sources of probiotics are found in kombucha, kefir, yogurt and any other fermented foods- or you can opt for a quality supplement like these from Thorne Research.
2. Catch Some Z’s– I know I know, at this time of the year there often just doesn’t feel like there is enough time in the day to get everything done. Shopping, Christmas parties, cooking, ‘fun’ family time with extended relatives…there’s just no way to fit it all in. Something might have to give, but don’t let it be your sleep. When you miss out on sleep you’re going to increase the stress on your body and reducing your body’s ability to produce those all-important antibodies that are a must for keeping you healthy.
3. Spice It Up– Garlic doesn’t just fend off vampires, it’s also a great way to fight bacteria and infection by stimulating white blood cell and antibodies production. Grab some crushed garlic and throw it on your eggs in the morning, mix it in to your salad dressing at lunch or sauté it up with some shrimp at dinner. No vampires, no sickness, win-win.
4. Stress Less– Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. The more excess cortisol running through your system, the more likely you are weakening your immune system. Carve out some time each day to relax and unwind…then maybe you’ll be ready to tackle that fun holiday traffic with a little less stress.
5. Soak Up Some Sun– Vitamin D plays an important role in strengthening your defense system to fend off those unwanted viruses and bacteria. Unfortunately, Vitamin D is also one of the most common deficiencies in America. Make sure you are scheduling some time (min. 15-20 minutes) to be outside, or investing in some quality supplements if you live in a spot where the sun likes to hibernate during the winter.
6. Break A Sweat– A little exercise goes a long way in helping your body increasing blood flow and circulating those important antibodies. Even if you can’t take a formal trip to the gym, find a way to get in at least 30 minutes of heart-rate elevating activity. Jogging, swimming, biking, surfing…find the activity that works best for you and get to it. *Bonus: if you’re engaging in an activity you enjoy outside, you’ll probably be reducing stress and brining in some Vitamin D (see how this all works…)
7. Stock Up On Citrus– Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are all in-season during the winter and ready to help keep you healthy with an added boost of Vitamin C. Try opting for these whole food sources of Vitamin C before you make those little orange colored dinosaurs part of your daily norm. I personally like to start out each morning with a big glass of water with fresh squeezed lemon for that added boost.