Keep Your Immune System Strong During the Holidays

A Guest Post by Nurture Intern Radoslava “Radka” Pribyl Pierdinock

When Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” blasts on the radio, everyone knows that it is that time of the year again- the holiday season! Holidays are a time for families and friends to spend time together celebrating traditions that are filled with love and laughter.

With lower temperatures and all of the crazy holiday events, it is especially important to know how to keep you and your family members’ immune systems strong during this season. This post will share some important tips on how to keep your body healthy and strong!

Sleep is extremely important to help maintain a strong immune system. With stimulation coming from TV, computer games, and increasing stress, children and adults are not getting an adequate amount of sleep. Ultimately, sleep deprivation can lead to changes in appetite, increased levels of stress, weight gain, irritability, anxiety, and/or depression.

Think of your body like an electric toy car. When the car is running out of batteries, it starts to act funny and strange. Similar to when we do not get enough sleep, we can be compared to the toy car, in which we start to also act funny. Although our bodies do not have batteries, our bodies must receive sleep to recharge so we can perform at our best! While we sleep, our bodies repair and grow new tissues, grow muscles, fight germs, and store memories. Due to all of these benefits, children should get at least ten to eleven hours of sleep.

However, everybody needs to sleep! Adults should get at least seven to nine hours of sleep. Some easy tips to get better sleep are to go to bed at the same time every night, develop a nightly routine, calm down your body, limit electronics before bed, and avoid eating/drinking too much or too little before bed.

We all know that holidays are associated with stuffing your bodies with lots and LOTS of sweet treats! Cookies and hot chocolate and candy, oh my! However, too much-added sugar/table sugar suppresses your immune system and can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, the gain of weight, and the decay of teeth.

To further understand sugar, it is important to understand that there are different types of sugar. Table sugar is sucrose. Sucrose is a combination of fructose and glucose. Lactose is another type of sugar found in dairy products. Fructose is a type of sugar that is found in fruits and vegetables. Of course, it is okay to have a sweet treat during the holidays, but it is not okay to substitute sugary foods for all of your meals. It is important not to limit lactose and fructose, which are naturally occurring sugars, but instead, limit the intake of added sugars or sucrose.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for information only, and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation, or endorsement by the author. You should always ask your physician or healthcare provider for her recommendation before starting any new health-related activity.

Lastly, it is important to understand that vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins to maintain a strong and healthy immune system. Vitamin D regulates the natural immune responses and the ability for your immune response to change. If you or your family members do not receive enough vitamin D, you and/or your family members are more likely to be harmed by an infection and have a decrease in defense mechanisms, ultimately increasing autoimmunity. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure that you and your family are receiving enough vitamin D. Vitamin D can be found naturally in fish, mushrooms, and milk!

As explained above, making sure you get adequate sleep and maintain a balanced diet that limits sucrose and includes vitamin D are all tips that can help you and your family keep their immune systems strong during this holiday season. From the Nurture team to you and your family, we wish you a safe, relaxing, and happy holiday season!

Here is a fun visual/activity you can show your kids: https://nurtureyourfamily.org/wp-content/uploads/Sugar-Sugar-Visual.pdf 

Works cited:

Aranow, Cynthia. “Vitamin D and the Immune System.” Journal of Investigative Medicine: the Official Publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/.

“How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 June 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898.

“Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 9 Oct. 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.

 

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