By Dr. Kaley Burns EBS COLUMNIST
The snow is epic, the lights are twinkling and families are gathering! However, amidst the joy and smiles of the holidays, your body’s working overtime to cope with circumstances that are outside your daily routine. This includes hydration and dietary changes, accompanied by reduced sleep and altered stress levels. Consequently, this often results in catching a cold and being more susceptible to germs. To stay healthy and fend off illness this season, see what our holistic specialists recommend having available for your holistic holiday kit.
With less sunlight, more time indoors, more alcohol and added sugars, we put our immune systems to the test each winter. It’s also easy to make poor nutrition choices when we’re out of the normal routine. The convenience of grabbing processed foods on the run or over-indulging in foods you are not typically used to consuming can compromise your gastrointestinal health and deny your immune system the nutrients that help keep you well.
If you are traveling on planes, the recirculated air in plane cabins often has lower oxygen and humidity concentrations leading to the “perfect storm” for germs to take hold. It can also dehydrate you quicker, which can compromise your ability to flush pathogens.
Aside from the routine Vitamins C and D, here are some other ideas for added immune support this winter!
- Zinc lozenges: A powerful nutrient that works best when taken at the very first sign of a cold or scratchy throat.
- Elderberry: Sambucus is a powerful antiviral herb which stimulates the immune system to get into action and increases the production of pathogen-fighting lymphocytes and natural killer cells.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are a valuable support for the immune system, aiding proper digestive function, optimizing bacterial balance and reducing gut inflammation. A good probiotic formula to look for is one that contains a number of different strains (at least 5) of gut-friendly bacterias.
- Digestive enzymes: These can greatly alleviate bloating, gas, and other digestive complaints associated with poor digestion while traveling and indulging in new foods.
- Healthy snacks: Easy-grab fruits (bananas, oranges, and apples), veggies with hummus, high quality jerky or a DIY trail mix with healthy nuts and seeds are great items to keep nearby.
- Magnesium: Many people have trouble with constipation and sleep whether traveling or hosting guests. Make sure you are drinking enough water to avoid making the constipation worse, and utilize the calming effects of magnesium for more optimal rest and digestion!
- Herbal Tea: Herbal and green teas are good choices to get more hydration and health-supportive benefits. Sleep and digestive blends can be especially useful this time of year.
As with any supplements or remedies, consult with a medical practitioner before making drastic changes to your regular routine. When you plan ahead and have the right tools in your kit, winter doesn’t have to result in illness.