The holiday season is coming up quick, and along with dancing sugar plums and a strong dose of seasonal cheer can come some uninvited guests, including the common cold and flu bug. So, what can you do to give your body the best fighting chance to avoid getting sick this holiday season? Sleigh Family Chiropractic offers the following tips to help boost your immunity system with the goal to remain among the healthy:
Avoiding too much sugar (especially at all those holiday parties) can be a bit of trick. Over-consumption can substantially decrease the immune system's ability to attack viruses and bacteria for up to eight hours after you enjoy that delicious piece of pie. We offer additional tips in Day 1 of the 12 Days of Health and Wellness.
Meanwhile, getting just 30 minutes of exercise (maybe before or after the party) each day can help the immune system to remain strong against infection. Make time for exercise.
The holidays can create a variety of stress for some, which is a natural immune depressor. Different ways to reduce stress include using deep breathing exercises, meditation and yoga, or simply scheduling some time for yourself. Whether it's a day at the salon for a mani/pedi, a massage, spending time with your favorite friends, or taking a peaceful (and potentially brisk) walk in the park, take the steps that will help you keep it stress-free over the holidays.
More sleep simply makes sense -- it allows your body to recharge and take on all the challenges of the day. Ashwaghanda is an herb that has been shown to reduce anxiety and encourage calm and relaxation. It is made up of phytochemicals called withanolides that are believed to reduce the body's stress response and help to achieve restful sleep. Other tips include having a consistent wake up and bedtime routine and avoid 'blue light' activities such as using a computer or a cell phone up to two hours before going to bed. Keep your office out of the bedroom; allow it to be a sanctuary away from technology that invites rest and relaxation. Body aches can interfere with your sleep. Visiting your chiropractor can help.
A strong antioxidant, vitamin C has been linked to reducing high blood pressure and chronic disease. Vitamin C is also known to boost immunity by way of strengthening white blood cells that guard against infection. Foods rich in Vitamin C include cantaloupe, kiwi fruit, papaya and oranges, along with cauliflower, curly kale and sprouting broccoli.
Sunlight exposure on the skin is considered the optimal way for the body to receive Vitamin D, but this is especially tough during the winter months. Since this vitamin strengthens the immune system, foods rich in it or a supplement that can make up where the sun might leave off are a must for the season. Foods rich in Vitamin D include egg yolks, beef liver, mushrooms, and oily fish.
The berries and flowers of elder trees and plants (known as Sambucus nigra) contain antioxidants and vitamins that have shown promise in boosting the immune system over centuries. The use of these trees and plants, and the syrup that comes from them, dates to 400 B.C. and Hippocrates, who called the elder tree his 'medicine chest'. Elderberry syrup has also been used to reduce stress and inflammation, as well as protect the heart.
Washing your hands often, with soap, is one of the easiest ways to avoid spreading germs to others and yourself. Germs can be spread through contact with your eyes, nose and mouth, and can be transmitted through a variety of surfaces. Remember to wash your hands often to reduce the spread of sickness, especially over the holidays so you can enjoy all the festivities.
Drs. Katie and Quintin Sleigh, along with the entire Sleigh Family Chiropractic team wish you and yours a very happy - and healthy - holiday season!