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The holidays are right around the corner and that means big, wet kisses on the cheeks, clammy handshakes, snotty noses, double-dipping, and munching on food that’s been sitting out for hours. In other words, it’s party time for everyone, including uninvited guests like germs!

Here’s how to make sure your immune system is ready to tackle this cocktail of circumstances.

Get enough shut-eye

Sleep deprivation is much more likely to lead to short tempers. It also lowers the body’s tolerance to external stressors, resulting in weakened defences against infection. What’s worse is that not only does lack of sleep make you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria, it also makes it harder for your body to get rid of those unwelcome visitors.

Maintaining good sleep hygiene—7 to 9 hours a night for adults—is a great way to keep your immune system strong for the holidays. The message is clear: A good night’s sleep will put you in a better mood and help keep your inner Grinch at bay!

More colour to your meals

Do you struggle to eat enough vegetables during the holidays? Fruits are not in season and don’t look very pretty? We hear you. But the connection between diet and health has been well established.

Depriving yourself is never the answer, especially during the holiday season, but making sure you have colour on your plate—think rainbow of fruits and vegetables—is a good way to get all the essential vitamins and minerals needed to protect your health and immune system.

To nurture the dynamic between gut health and immune function, focus on eating foods that microbiota thrive on, such as:

  • green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.)
  • delicious clementines (which are in season)
  • berries (cranberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • fermented products (sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso, etc.)
  • nuts and seeds
  • legumes (including grandma’s pea soup)

Time to unwind

Are you successfully keeping stress in check as we head into the holiday season? Hmmm… easier said than done? It’s true that with stress comes lack of sleep, cravings for ultra-processed foods, a nasty mood, constant exhaustion, inflammation, and so on.

Money worries, lack of time, increased mental workload, family conflicts, and hectic schedules can make the holidays a stressful time. There are plenty of breathing techniques out there (simply search online) for those moments when you need immediate relief.

Or you can cultivate mindfulness in your daily life, whether you’re sitting in the lotus position, washing the dishes, or tending to your plants. If you cringe at the thought of meditation, there are tons of activities for unwinding, such as colouring, keeping a journal, reading, and, of course, moving, moving, moving!

Consult your health care professional if you’re feeling overly stressed.

Let’s get physical!

Much like a balanced diet, physical activity not only increases resilience to stress, it’s also vital for good health!

Even for the immune system? Yes, moderate exercise (for less than 60 minutes) can boost the immune response and promote immune cell regeneration.

150 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity physical activity every week is the ideal target.

If the cold prevents you from going outside or the low sunlight levels discourage you from going to the gym, remember that dancing in your living room is also physical activity!

Make an appointment with a healthy lifestyle advisor

As you may have noticed, the Luci program can help you develop three key habits: eating a balanced diet, being active, and managing stress through intellectually stimulating activities. Why not take stock of your situation and book a virtual meeting with a healthy lifestyle advisor? Your immune system and your brain will thank you!

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