Boosting Your Holiday-Season Immune System

Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday!

Everyone want to enjoy their holiday season. It’s an exciting time full of shopping, gifts, food, and fun! For many of us it is an opportunity to see the family members we miss most and to enjoy time spent making great memories. But with all the visits and trips, your immune system may suffer as a result. To avoid getting ill this holiday season, take into consideration these tips and tricks that will keep you at the dinner table, not chained to a box of tissues in bed.

What Causes My Immune System to Weaken?

Before we talk about how to strengthen your immune system, it’s important to know what you’re doing that might be weakening it. What most don’t realize is that there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of things you do every single day that could be lessening your ability to fight off viruses and bacteria like the common cold and the flu. Perhaps some of your lifestyle choices could be contributing to your lowered immune system. You might not even know it!

Doing something as simple as skipping out on a few hours of sleep for a long period of time can do a lot more than just give you bags under your eyes. Not sleeping enough can lead to the production of stress hormones and can be a cause of excess inflammation in your body – both of which can hurt your good health. Stress, especially, puts a lot of pressure on the body and can make it hard to fight off simple sicknesses you might not otherwise get, like little colds or a sore throat. It can also increase your risk factor for cardiovascular issues.

If you’re not sleeping enough, try exercise. People who don’t exercise are more likely to get sick than people who don’t, so try setting aside 30 minutes of your day for something as simple as walking. This might not be so pleasant in the winter months, so consider doing some yoga or other indoor activity to get oxygen flowing, which has long been accepted as one of the keys to good health. Hand in hand with exercise is diet; eating a lot of sugar can lead to a lower immune system. Alcohol has similar effects as it affects your liver which is responsible for breaking down bile in your body. If your liver isn’t functioning at full capacity, your immune system probably isn’t either. If it gets hard to resist the treats and drinks this holiday season, make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits packed with Vitamin C and other nutrients to keep yourself from feeling sick any time soon.

Immune Boosters

If you’re looking to ward off infection, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you stay happy and healthy. A very effective option is just frequently washing your hands. The world is a dirty place and your hands are a highway for bacteria and viruses that might make you sick. Be sure to use the clean water and soap that lathers well. Always scrub the backs of the hands, under the nails an between the fingers. You should scrub for at least twenty seconds every time. Be sure to dry them with a clean towel (cloth or paper) afterwards so germs that like moisture don’t have anywhere to go. According to the CDC, you should always wash your hands:

-Before, during, and after preparing food
-Before eating food
-Before and after caring for someone who is sick
-Before and after treating a cut or wound
-After using the toilet
-After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
-After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
-After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
-After touching garbage

If you don’t have soap, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.

Believe it or not, laughter is another immune booster! Just knowing you’re going to enjoy yourself can improve mood and immunity dramatically, but actually laughing is the best medicine. It helps to lower the same stress that can hurt you. So break out a game of charades or that silly Christmas comedy that always makes you laugh. Your body will thank you for it.

There are also a number of vitamins and herbs that can help you feel your best! Many of these can be added to holiday dishes for an extra kick so you can get all the benefits without even thinking!
-Echinacea
-Ginseng
-Garlic
-Bell Peppers
-Ginger
-Turmeric

Sources: WebMD, Mother Earth Living, Rediff, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Natural News

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