Now that the holidays are coming to an end and many New Years Resolutions are hoping to be implemented- let’s touch on some immunity boosters.

I’m a firm believer that out bodies, when taken care of and nourished, can fight viruses properly and even keep our symptoms at a minimum. But why is it that so many of us are getting sick during or right after the holidays?

Three main areas are being compromised during the holidays:

1. Sleep– During our sleep cycle, an increased production of cytokines associated with inflammation occurs, leading to a defense mechanism within our body that can help fight off infections. So when we lose sleep, we aren’t giving our bodies the time to recover and fight off any viruses that may attack our immune systems. A lack of nightly sleep has been connected to both short-term illnesses and long terms disease. Persistent lack of sleep can also lead to long term issues such as heart disease, cancers, diabetes and depression. It’s key to keep our circadian rhythm healthy as it regulates our 24-hour internal clock, with its purpose to carry out essential functions and processes to keep us healthy. When our circadian rhythm is disrupted, it may increase the likelihood and severity of allergic reactions, insomnia, depression and neurological disorders like dementia. Just like sleep can help the brain consolidate learning and memory, research suggests that sleep strengthens immune memory. The key take away: aim for 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.

2. Diet: Sugar greatly decreases immune function and increases inflammation. Studies show that it takes about 75 grams of sugar (akin to about one large slice of pie and an egg nog) to weaken the immune system. Sugar is a white blood cell (the good guys who help our bodies fight infections) “killer” and once the white blood cells are compromised, the immune system is lowered for about 5 hours after. Ever have a lot of sugar and feel like junk right after? Well this is why! Even with exercise, sleep and less stress, if you continually consume large amounts of sugary drinks and sweets, your body can’t function at its full potential. Key take away: cut the sugar and add in a pice of fruit with pulp to curb the cravings. The less sugar your body had the less it will crave it.

3. Stress: We know stress is a big one during holidays. This year add in some Covid, and our stress levels are soaring. Studies show large amounts of stress levels can produce hormonal changes that decrease the body’s resistance to colds and other infections. Drs. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD & Ronald Glaser, PhD, of the Ohio State University College of Medicine produced a study in the 80’s showing the links between stress and infection. From 1982 through 1992, they found that medial students’ immunity went down each year under the stress of the three-day exam period. The students had fewer natural killer cells, which fight tumors and viral infections. They almost completely stopped producing immunity-boosting gamma interferon. And their infection-fighting T-cells responded very minimally to test-tube stimulation. Key take away: find ways to stomp that stress. Prayer, reflection, deep breathing, hobbies, nature and uplifting reading are all great ways to find some peace.

Although there is no substitute for a healthy diet and cleaner lifestyle, here are some great supplements and ways to bring our bodies back into full health and ready to take on the new year!

1. Supplements: Supplements are meant to support your body, not take the place of your regular body fundtions, once that support is in place and your vitamin “stores” are up, wean off and see how you do. Add in When our bodies need support we use these: Vitamin D3, mineral support, Vitamin C, zinc, probiotics. I recommend Seeking Health, Smarty Pants, Traditional Foods Market, Mary Ruths, & Pure Encapsulations.

2. Juicing: While I don’t recommend a juicing fast, as it can place unnecessary strain on the liver, I DO recommend adding a fresh juice daily! By juicing you are able to feed your body with a ton of nourishing vitamins and minerals that you would never be able to get from fruits and veggies in even a few servings. Stay away from juicing fruits (aside from low fructose fruits like Granny Smith apples) as they will spike your blood sugar as (consuming fruits with the pulp and fiber helps balance out the fructose.) The Omega Low Speed Masticating Juicer is my favorite and allows you to keep all the the nutrients that your ordinary fast paced juicer won’t.

3. Exercise (in moderation): while too much exercise can actually put unnecessary strain on the body, 30 or more min of movement is always good for the body. 45 min of walking especially in fresh is so healthy for the body and mind. Add in some cardio, weights it aerobics to get the heart going and the lungs stronger.

4. Letting go of anger, resentment and unforgiveness: Research also shows that even one five-minute episode of anger is so stressful that it can impair your immune system for more than six hours. So let this be a good time to reflect on your relationships and past resentments. When we release and forgive, we find a greater peace and greater path towards healing. Switch that anger in for laugher! It’s shown that laughter boosts immunity, releases endorphins, relaxes the muscles for at least 45 min after and protects the heart and blood vessels.