Preventing Winter Bugs –  Five Tips for Staying Healthy this Winter

Preventing Winter Bugs – Five Tips for Staying Healthy this Winter

Fall and winter are typically when we come down with some sort of bug. Why? Well, let’s start with the stress of the upcoming holidays. First there’s Halloween! Lots of us get into the Halloween holiday mood with great decorations both inside and outside.

This means the house has to be in some kind of order and there are lots of decisions to be made about how to celebrate. Usually, there is a great deal of sugar involved!

Next, we have preparation for Thanksgiving with housecleaning, food shopping and deciding how to handle dinner. Of course, no holiday season would be complete without the stress of shopping, money issues and the strains of getting everything done around Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice celebrations and New Year’s events.

How do we handle this season and come out of it as healthy as we can?

1. Start with a deep breath, a piece of paper, pencil, some time for planning and a cup of relaxing tea. Think about the outcome of each of these special holidays and how much time, energy, money and effort you want to spend during this time. Write down everything and then whittle away at the list for each holiday until you can take a deep breath and relax. Now you have a clearer idea and a plan for what needs to happen. Maybe you can eliminate stressors from years past.

2. Watch your sugar intake. Sugar is inflammatory and can decrease your body’s immune functioning. If you are watching your weight or need to monitor some illnesses like diabetes, you’ll want a plan to get some sweetness – but not too much. Ways to do this include eating some fruit, taking small portions and brushing your teeth right after you eat.

3. Make sure you stay hydrated! This means drinking plenty of WATER! Sodas contain a lot of sugar and diet sodas have artificial sweeteners. Coffee is highly caffeinated and is a diuretic, meaning it makes you pee more and lose water. Alcohol breaks down into sugar and can lead to other problems. Sometimes, we feel hungry when we are thirsty – so drink some water, maybe even some fizzy water. It can be filling.

4. Get good sleep. Lack of sleep can make a stressful situation even more so. When you’re sleep deprived, it’s hard to focus and get stuff done. Try to get about 8 hours of sleep nightly. Go to bed and get up at the same time most days, and either remove the electronics from your room or cover them at night. Those tiny lights give off a big glow that can interfere with restful sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, don’t stay in bed and toss and turn. Get up and turn on a low wattage light, do some journaling or light reading. No phones, computers, TV or housework. This should help you get tired and go back to sleep.

5. We don’t always eat as healthy as we might during the holidays. You may want to include some supplements that will help to support your immune system. Here are four supplements you might consider:

  • Vitamin D – This vitamin is famous for its role in bone health. It may also help immune cells in their work to kill off pathogens. (1,2)
  • Zinc – This is an essential mineral that is needed to make many of our enzymes function properly. It may also help activate our immune cells to do their job of killing off pathogens. (3,4)
  • Vitamin C – This vitamin is an essential micronutrient and a great antioxidant. It may add to our immune system by supporting the function of our innate and adaptive immune systems. (5,6)
  • Probiotics – These are good bacteria that help balance out the bacteria that make us sick. Roughly 70% of our immune system is in our gut. Keeping our gut bacteria healthy may also support our immune function. You can eat fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut or kefir or you can get probiotics through supplements. It’s best to talk with your healthcare provider about which type of probiotic is best for you. (7,8,9)

If you find yourself getting run down and feeling sick – stay home, eat lightly, sleep or rest as much as you can and drink plenty of fluids like herbal teas, bone broth and water.

Relax and enjoy these holidays. WHEN you do, use these days as a time to reconnect with your friends, family and mostly – with yourself!

Dr. Elaine Stewart, ND
Chief Health Officer, WHEN

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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