Don’t let the flu put the kibosh on your holiday merriment! Sometimes the stress of the season can wreak havoc on your immune system, increasing your chances of contracting a cold or the flu. We depend on our immune system to be strong and destroy any viruses and bacteria we may encounter. Once compromised, it’s even possible to develop flu-related complications, like pneumonia or bronchitis.
Here are some tips on how to keep your immune system strong and stay healthy and happy during the holidays:
- Maintain therapeutic vitamin D levels – the optimal blood range to shoot for is 50-70 ng/ml (monitor your levels through a simple blood test at least twice a year).
- Sleep – if your body is tired and/or burned out, it will be more difficult to fight off the flu. Chronic sleep loss can increase an individual’s vulnerability to infectious diseases.
- Stress management – a daily practice of journaling, yoga, guided imagery, visualization, etc., can help to counteract the immune-suppressing impact of stress. Stress during the holiday season is inevitable – allowing it to negatively impact your health is not.
- Exercise – while exercise provides many health benefits, it also improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood that can help ward off any opportunistic virus or bacteria.
- Diet – as challenging as it may be particularly around the holiday season, avoid or limit consumption of refined sugars (including alcohol), grains, and processed foods. Too many carbs will cause an imbalance in your gut flora. Remember, 80 percent of your immune system lies in your gut. Take a good-quality probiotic each day or regularly consume fermented foods like miso, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
- Wash your hands regularly – this will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth, or to other people. Do NOT use conventional antibacterial soaps that contain synthetic chemicals. You may use a simple chemical-free soap.
- Cover your mouth and nose – when you cough or sneeze, it is best to use the crook of your elbow to cover your mouth and nose, thus avoiding contamination of your hands.
- Try a natural immune booster – there are many of these to choose from, but a few of our favorites are oil of oregano and garlic – both provide effective protection against many viruses, bacteria, and protozoa.
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