The holidays are full of wonderful celebrations with friends and family – but the fun also means becoming worn down while you’re being exposed to lots of seasonal illnesses. Not a great combination!
During this time everyone, especially cancer survivors and their caregivers should take additional steps to boost their immune systems against sickness so that treatment (and fun) can continue as planned.
Here are some simple ways that all of us can naturally boost your protection against the flu, cold, covid and other seasonal illnesses:
- Focus on a nutrient-rich, balanced diet. Holiday cookies are delicious – but reducing sugar and focusing on balancing immune-boosting food is critical for your overall health. Focus on incorporating nutrient rich ingredients like these:
- Herbs and spices: garlic, ginger, lemon, turmeric – all great immune boosters!
- Beta carotene: found in sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, mangoes, broccoli and tomatoes.
- Vitamin C: citrus fruits, berries, melons, tomatoes, bell peppers and broccoli.
- Vitamin D: fatty fish and eggs. Milk and fortified juices are also are good sources.
- Zinc: beef and seafood, but also found in plant-based sources, including wheat germ, beans, nuts and tofu.
- Probiotics: yogurt, and fermented foods, such as kefir and kimchi.
- Protein: milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils.
- Use supplements alongside a healthy diet. Sometimes, that peppermint bark gets the best of us. To fill in the gaps in nutrients when we give in to our naughty holiday habits rely on these supplement “musts”:
- Stay super hydrated. Fluids are incredibly important for your immune system. Remember to drink adequate fluids throughout the day (challenge yourself for 80-100 ounces). Ditch the hot cocoa - plain water is best. But you can add a booster like LMNT or Liquid IV if you need to perk it up. Remember: alcohol is full of sugar and dehydrates you – so drink extra water and consume sparingly.
- Increase sleep, reduce stress. The Mayo Clinic points out that getting adequate sleep and managing stress can be just as important as healthy eating to prevent the flu. Managing stress with self-care is crucial especially during the holiday chaos. Research demonstrates that lack of sleep and increased stress contribute to illness and overall poor health, so stay away from that crowded mall or overbooking your schedule! Some tips:
- Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Nap when you need it.
- Try healthy ways to cope with stress: massage, hot bath, meditating, walking, listening to music - or watching your favorite Christmas movie.
- Get active. Movement is life so get moving and try to break a sweat every day! Physical activity is another strategy to detoxify your system (sweating), manage stress, and to boost your immune system.
- Get outside for a walk and fresh air.
- Grab a friend and sign up for a workout class.
- Sweat in a sauna for an extra detoxifying boost.
- If the weather is cold, blast your favorite holiday music and do an easy 20-minute workout routine.
Even if you eat well, get plenty of rest, drink adequate fluids, manage your stress, and do everything right, you still may catch something so take it easy and hopefully some of our tips above help you bounce back faster!
Check out what I do to stay healthy all year long with my full anti-cancer supplement plan.
Stay healthy & happy holidays!