The holiday season is a beautiful time of year when families come together, when people share in the joy of celebrating life, and when we get to enjoy cozying up inside from the colder weather. But the holidays are also the most likely time of year to get sick. There are several reasons for this—colder weather, the stress of shopping and to-do lists, eating junk food, drinking alcohol, skipping exercise, spending more time in enclosed places, exposure to more people, bacteria, viruses, and so on. Many people also travel during the holidays to visit family and friends, and we are much more likely to catch a cold on an airplane then we are in our daily lives.
The best way to avoid getting sick this holiday season is to strengthen your immune system so that it is better able to fight off the many stresses that it may come across this time of year. Our immune systems are the basis of our health, and therefore the immune system plays a big role when it comes to our overall wellness and happiness. The immune system’s complex network of organs, cells, and molecules protects us from anything foreign and potentially harmful, such as viruses, bacteria, cancer cells, toxic chemicals, and more. In the words of our co founder Richard Helfrich, “There is nothing the body cannot defeat with a functioning immune system.” Through a process called the immune response, this system attacks invading organisms and substances as they enter the body and work to inflict disease.
The way to stay healthy during the holidays is to keep your immune system in top condition. Here are 10 ways we reccommend to do this:
- Get adequate rest
Physical exhaustion and lack of sleep weakens our immune system, and compromises our ability to fight colds and other viruses. According to one 2015 study that included 164 healthy men and women, those that slept less than 7 hours each night were at greater risk of getting ill. Make sure you stay well rested this holiday season and get the amount of sleep that your body needs.
Stress is one of the greatest enemies to our immune system. When we are stressed, the hormone cortisol is released in the body, and this can affect the body’s immune response, which we need to fight off infection. The holidays can be a stressful time of year for some—hosting or visiting family, traveling, buying gifts, putting up decorations, etc. Do your best to relax and enjoy the holiday season, not just for your peace of mind, but for the health of your body as well. Remember that at any time you can pause, take a deep breath in, and exhale—doing so will help you let go of any mental tension and relax, and it will actually help to stimulate your vagus nerve—one of the major nerves in our body connected to the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, also known as our rest-and-digest response, as opposed to the stressful fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. Our Zuma Nutrition team also created our Stress Formula- powered by Sun theanine to help further lower cortisol levels in the body. This awesome green tera extract inhibits your body’s ability to access adrenaline which lowers cortisol levels, therefore boosting immune function and mind body balance.
Believe it or not, singing, humming, or chanting can also be beneficial for your immune system. This also has to do with the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is connected to the vocal chords, and can also be activated by the vibrations of sound that come from singing, humming, or chanting. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, the body is in a state of relaxation rather than stress, and this supports the health of our immune system, and therefore the health of our whole body. Get in the holiday spirit and sing some joyful songs—your immune system will thank you!
- Stay hydrated
Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work properly. If your body is not receiving the amount of water that it needs, it will be more challenging for it to perform its many necessary functions, and your immune system will suffer. Exactly how much water each person needs varies according to the individual. There are several factors that influence the need to modify your intake of fluids, such as the amount of exercise you perform, the temperature and humidity of the environment you live in, your overall health, and pregnancy or breast feeding to name a few. However, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food (about 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food). Staying hydrated is one of the greatest ways to support your body’s health during the holiday season.
- Wash your hands
As we go through daily life, we come into contact with many germs and bacteria. Using toilet paper, changing a diaper, handling raw meat, or coming into contact with contaminated soil, may expose us to Salmonella, E. Coli, or norovirus. While touching any object that has been contaminated from someone coughing or sneezing on it, can also expose us to germs and viruses. Washing your hands with soap removes germs from your hands and helps you to prevent infection.
- Make healthy food choices
One issue with the holiday season is that people indulge in various junk foods, cookies, and snacks that are not only lacking in nutrients, but often contain large amounts of sugars, trans-fats, preservatives, chemicals, and other toxins that tax the body and weaken the immune system. Keep your immune system in top condition by making healthy food choices and giving your body the nutrients that it requires for optimal functioning. Eating unprocessed, organic and raw foods high in enzymes is a great place to start.
- Make time for exercise
Physical activity helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, which may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness. Exercise also causes change in antibodies and white blood cells, which are the body's immune system cells that fight disease. Exercise improves our mood, improves our blood pressure and cardiovascular function, boosts our energy levels, helps us to be more relaxed, supports the burning of fat and weight loss, and keeps our body in a healthy physical condition. Therefore, making time for regular exercise is a great way to keep your body and your immune system in top shape.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses of the body, and a deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. Making sure your body is receiving this vital nutrient is an excellent way to support your immune system during the holidays. The best way to get Vitamin D is to spend some time outside in the sun, as human skin can actually make large amounts of vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun’s rays. It is important to note that for some people they may lack the genetic trait that allows their body to make vitamin D from being in contact with the sun, for those people, vitamin D supplements are very important. Thankfully, there are other sources that can provide us with vitamin D, such as mushrooms, nutritional yeast, fish, eggs, or vitamin D supplements.
There are many herbs that benefit the body and can help to improve your immune system. One can see the antioxidant content of an herb by looking at the vibrant color of the botanical, these colors represent antioxidant pigments and help feed our immune systems what it needs to function daily. Consuming foods and herbs rich in vitamin C, such as citrus or Amla (one of the ingredients in our Rejuvenation & Relaxation Blends) can help protect the body from free radical damage, as Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Our Biodynamic Turmeric Tonic formula is a vibrant golden color and is packed with immune boosting nutrients. Consuming peppers like cayenne, or other spices such as ginger and turmeric, can also boost the immune system as they help to break up mucus and clear out your sinus passages. Take advantage of nature’s medicines and use them to keep you strong this holiday season.
- Arm your Immune System Daily
Our Zuma Nutrition team created two powerful formulas meant to be taken in the morning each morning to boost and ready our Immune Systems for a day’s work of protecting us. Our Immunity Formula, which contains a broad range of immune boosting ingredients, and our Co Enzyme B Complex, which contains a broad range of B Vitamins in a co enzyme form for optimum bio availability. Our Immune systems can defeat any bacteria, virus and other foreign substance if armed properly. Feeding and arming our Immune System first thing in the morning every morning is a great way to avoid getting sick in the cold & flu season.
Remember that the holiday season only comes around once a year, so allow yourself stay healthy to enjoy it! Happy Holidays!!