During the holidays, many find themselves ill when they should be drinking eggnog and making-out underneath the mistletoe. Why? The answer is not far from their Christmas-y grasp on the nearest piece of sugar. It is not just the sugar though, the culprit is not that simple. Often, that nearest piece of sugar has been touched by many as we are surrounded by family/friends, which means kids wiping their runny nose on you as they run by and whatnot. It is the stress of having everything just right, the sugar, the increased people contact from family gatherings and traveling, and the other elements of merriment we do not experience everyday that leads to feeling under-the-weather.
How do we prime our immune systems to fight off these reindeer sweatshirt- wearing germs? First things first, and perhaps the most important: enjoy everything. Holidays are meant to be fun. Read this sentence again. Now out loud. Now tell the person next to you (dogs count). If you are enjoying yourself, then you are relaxed and the happiness is in itself health. If there are elements you find continuously stressful this time of year, no matter how silly they are, try to have a new attitude about them. Let go of the stress they have represented in the past and enjoy yourself.
Second, help out your immune system with a little fortification. There are many ways to strengthen your immune system. Vitamin C supplementation is an easy and cost-effective way. Capsules are best for this, and I usually chose a blend with bioflavanoids and/or rose hips to increase the food elements in it. A 500 mg capsule twice daily should do the trick and only cost about $5- $6 for 60 capsules. A supplement form is always complemented nicely by increasing Vitamin C in your diet, but because it is the holidays, and you may not have much control on the food you are eating, just carry some capsules with you. Another alternative is Emergen-C, which is nice to balance out any drinking, but also contains sugar.
Other forms of immune system support are reishi mushroom, mushroom blends, and herbal blends. Reishi mushroom is very nourishing immune support that can be taken for the entire winter season. This is a supplement where a high quality brand is a must. Mushrooms are a more tricky supplement to produce and is one you want to buy from a trustworthy company. New Chapter and Designs for Health both carry high quality mushroom products. A mushroom blend is also beneficial. New Chapter specifically has a product called “Host Defense” that many find useful. As for the herbal blends, I don’t recommend echinacea for long-term use because it becomes a crutch and also because it is cooling to the constitution. Instead, I do recommend having an immune tincture on hand for acute uses like when your nose starts running, you are feeling run- down, or feel a sore throat coming on. Echinacea used in this case is wonderful, and just about every herbal tincture line has an immune blend. My personal favorite is from a local company here in Boulder called WishGarden and the tincture is called “Kick-ass Immune.”
When we are being hard on our bodies, eating sugar, drinking alcohol, and having to think really hard about the last vegetable we ate, the body may feel it a bit. The good news is the holidays are a short window and as we said before they are meant to be enjoyed. This counts in the food we eat or wine we drink. There is no point having that extra piece of cake if you are going to be thinking about the calories or sugar content. No, you must savor every bite. Do it right, or just don’t do it. Beyond that, drink water when you remember, get a little extra sleep when you can (for me the football game on tv is my cue for a nap), and be thankful for those loved ones around you.
With a little effort and care for your immune system, any illness during the holidays can be prevented. So have a Vitamin C capsule with your fudge and mulled wine and may all be merry. Happy Holidays to you!