Holiday Immune Boosters: Stay Healthy Through the Party Season & Beyond

By Jody Moss

The holiday season is upon us, and along with the fun and festivities come a host of dreaded viruses. While cold and flu season stretches from November to March, it typically peaks in late December and January. When we eat excess sugar, consume regular amounts of alcohol, ski all day and party all night, our immune system doesn’t stand a fighting chance. How can we party like a rock star and get away with it?

GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Adequate sleep is essential for a strong immune system. In a 2015 study, healthy men and women who slept less than six hours a night for one week were more than four times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept more than seven hours.Try setting a bedtime that you can keep consistent during the holidays, and allow yourself to sleep in after a late night on the town. Set the right temperature on your thermostat; 60 degrees is an optimal sleeping temperature. As your body gets ready for sleep, your body’s core temperature drops. This makes the body feel drowsy.

HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE

Water carries oxygen to your cells, so they can function properly. Your body uses water to flush toxins that could build up and slow down your immune system. At your next party, drink a glass of water for every glass of alcohol you drink.  Drinking water when you drink alcohol will diminish the alcohol in your stomach which slows absorption. If you have access to a little Himalayan pink sea salt, by all means add a stout pinch to one or more of your eight daily glasses of water. The minerals in salt can help replace the trace minerals your cells need to keep in electrolyte balance.

HIT THE GYM

A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Immunology concluded that regular physical activity and frequent exercise may benefit your immune system. Exercise helps protect against upper respiratory infections by flushing out bacteria from your lungs and airways. Regular physical activity also increases your time spent in a deep sleep. But don’t overdo it!

EAT YOUR VEGGIES

Fill up with fruits and vegetables, preferably in their whole (unprocessed) form, to boost the nutrients needed for a healthy immune system.

TAKE HERBS FOR IMMUNITY

You also can take herbs that will boost your immune system. It is best to rotate them every two weeks or so. Herbs that I find effective are Ginger, Echinacea, Astragalus root, Licorice Root, Olive leaf and Andographis.

Ginger
Ginger is an easy one to keep on hand. I like to make a fresh tea by peeling, slicing and boiling it in water for at least 15 minutes. If you have access to fresh turmeric root, peel and slice that into the mix. Don’t forget a little black pepper to make the turmeric more absorbable.

Echinacea
Echinacea keeps bacteria and viruses from penetrating our healthy cells. This Is good one to take for up to eight weeks for cold prevention because it works as an immune-system stimulant. It also helps upper respiratory problems. Don’t take it if you have an allergy to ragweed. It comes as a dry powdered extract in a capsule or in a liquid extract tincture.

Astragalus
Astragalus will boost your immune system and prevent cold and flu. Begin taking astragalus preventively through the flu season for its anti-viral effects. You can take this for up to three months. You can get this in tablet or liquid form.

Licorice Root
Licorice root boosts the immune system; it contains interferon that fights attacking viruses. The glycyrrhetinic acid in licorice root can stop the growth of many bacteria and viruses such as influenza A. It is a natural fever reducer and can help with headaches. It helps soothes sore throats by creating a viscous coating around your throat. You should not take licorice root for longer than six weeks. I like to buy it in tea form, just make sure it contains glycyrrhetinic acid.

Olive Leaf
Olive leaf extract is a powerful antioxidant and cold and flu fighter. When taken regularly, it strengthens your immune system, helping your body fight off illness and disease. If you already have a cold or flu and want to get better fast, take olive leaf extract to reduce the severity of your symptoms. It comes in liquid, capsule and tablet form.

Andographis
Andographis stimulates the immune system and may prevent the influenza virus from binding to cells in your body. When taken with Siberian ginseng, it can be effective in speeding up your recovery from the flu. It comes in tablet form.

In conclusion, to keep your immune system strong, sleep well, exercise regularly, eat lots of vegetables and fruit, drink eight glasses of water a day, and, during times of stress, take an herbal supplement or tea. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any of these supplements.