Your immune system is nothing short of amazing and works hard to protect you from everyday environmental threats. A healthy routine with balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and stress management helps promote immune health. However, overindulgence, everyday stress, and less commitment to exercise are the three major ingredients that make up the holiday season. And this will not do your immune system any favors.
Despite this, it’s important to remember that small changes through the holidays can have a big impact on immune health. The tips below will help you maintain immune and respiratory health without missing out on the magic of the season.
We all indulge a bit over the holidays, and that’s not a problem, as long as you strive for balance. Because immune health is linked to gut health, watching your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake is important. The bacteria in the gut can become unbalanced with excess sugar consumption. With the gut microbiome being a large part of your immune system, changes to bacterial balance can really impact how you take on seasonal threats.
While it will be challenging with all the tempting holiday treats around, it is important to remember that added sugars can contribute to unhealthy blood sugar levels, which can also cause unwanted immune cell responses towards healthy tissues.
Wherever possible, make healthy food choices that support immune responses such as berries, yogurt, and foods high in vitamin C such as papaya, oranges, kiwi fruit, and kale, and broccoli.
Alcohol makes it harder for the immune system to function properly to protect you against occasional environmental threats, and the holidays are often a time where people consume more alcohol. Many of your favorite holiday beverages like eggnog, punch, wine, mixed drinks, and ciders also have a lot of sugar, which, as mentioned above, can alter the gut microbiome balance and immune responses.
Be mindful of your alcohol consumption and plan to participate in the annual toast or have a small glass of wine with dinner, and then switch to water. There are also several delightful festive nonalcoholic drinks such as hot apple cider, cinnamon tea, peppermint tea, tea lattes, cherry ale (cherry juice and ginger ale), and hot cocoa that will keep you in the holiday spirit without upsetting your immune system.
Routines are easily disrupted over the holidays, but if there is any way to maintain your exercise routine, it can be good for your overall health. Just 30 minutes each day can help promote healthy immune system defenses. Regular physical activity helps to:
♦ promote healthy circulation, which reduces occasional stress.
♦ promote “good” bacteria in the gut.
♦ maintain healthy circulation of immune cells through the body.
Immune cells circulate more rapidly with exercise, allowing them to detect common environmental threats earlier. After a big meal, instead of taking a nap, or sitting in front of the television, gather the family to go for a walk and enjoy the lights in the neighborhood or take part in a friendly outdoor family game.
As fun as the holidays can be, they are also a time of year that causes everyday stress for many. It is important to support a healthy response to stress during the holidays with management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or simply scheduling some time for yourself in order to support immune system health.
To help reduce everyday stress, cut down your to-do list because you do not have to do anything. If there is a lot to do, spread the list out over a few days, leaving time to relax in between. Create a holiday spending budget and stick to it to help reduce worry over finances, and plan your shopping trips ahead, making sure you factor in extra travel time during peak shopping times.
During sleep, the immune system releases certain chemicals known to increase during periods of occasional stress to promote healthy immune responses. Getting more sleep during the holidays makes sense because there is always a lot going on and a lot to do.
Pulling an all-nighter won’t help. It may seem like the only way to get everything done, but it won’t do your health any favors. You need seven to nine hours of sleep, and a growing body of research suggests that not getting enough sleep has an immediate (and long-term) effect on how well the cells in your immune system actually function.
Create a healthy sleep routine that includes going to bed and rising at the same time. Make sure your room is as dark as it can be, set to a cool, comfortable temperature, and turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed.
Treat yourself to comprehensive immune and respiratory health this holiday season, and for the rest of your life. 1MD Nutrition™ offers two powerful formulas designed to support immune responses and healthy lung function for long-term immune health.
♦ ImmunityMD® is a doctor-formulated, probiotics-based supplement designed to support immune health, and help avoid the unsightly problems of a compromised immune system in and around the mouth. A potent probiotic and prebiotic blend maintains a healthy gut balance to promote optimal immune responses, while zinc supports immune cell activity, and l-lysine helps to reduce everyday worry and anxiety.
♦ BreatheMD™ is scientifically-formulated to support lung function and respiratory and immune system health. African geranium helps to support respiratory function, while l-cysteine and marshmallow root help promote normal mucous thickness, allowing it to be coughed up and removed from obstructing the respiratory pathways. The addition of vitamins C and E protects against normal oxidative stress, and vitamin D3 helps promote lung function. Chromium and zinc both promote healthy immune responses by supporting immune cell activity.
‘Tis the season for immune health. Even with the best intentions, it can be tempting to overeat, and with all the parties and family visits, who has time for exercise? But, with these tips, you can still enjoy the festivities and maintain immune system health for an active lifestyle and holiday season. So, give your immune system the gift of care this season with these simple tips and the comprehensive support of 1MD Nutrition’s immune-health supplements.
Dr. Brian Greenberg
Dr. Brian Greenberg is an immunologist, allergist, and pediatrician who received his medical degree from the University of Florida, and completed his residency and fellowship at UCLA. He has practiced medicine in Southern California for almost 25 years.