The holiday season is in full swing, and many Americans are enjoying gathering with family and friends. During the winter, more time indoors with other people often leads to more illness. The last thing anyone wants is to be sick or have a child sick over the holidays. With a few simple habits, you can boost your family’s immunity and lessen the likelihood of winter illnesses.
Practice Good Holiday Hygiene
Gathering around a table with people you love can be wonderful for your mental health, but some extra precautions are needed to prevent spreading illnesses like the flu. Good handwashing is essential year-round, but it’s even more important at gatherings where many people will be handling the same serving utensils and prepping food. Consider talking to your family and friends about incorporating healthy habits into your gathering. This might include agreeing to have everyone wash their hands before the meal or letting everyone know that they should stay home if someone in their family is ill. Keeping a window cracked in the room where everyone is gathered can also reduce the risk of airborne illness.
Food poisoning is a common illness around the holidays, so make sure you keep cold food cold and hot food hot. A digital food thermometer can tell you if meat and other dishes are fully cooked. Ground meat and eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees, chicken is done at 165, and steaks, chops, and roasts should clock in at 145 degrees. It’s also a good idea to use a sanitizing cleanser on surfaces where raw meat has been prepared. Fruits and vegetables are common and often overlooked sources of food-borne illness. Washing produce before you serve it will keep your guests safe.
Keep up Your Healthy Habits
Healthy eating and exercise often go out the window during the holidays, but this is the time when they are more critical than ever. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein is great for your immune system. Regular exercise also boosts immunity and can help lower stress and improve sleep. Not to mention, exercise can help work off the extra food you might be eating at holiday gatherings. Most people splurge on some extra sugar or fatty food at holiday meals, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as your everyday diet stays healthy.
Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. Adapting your diet to the season can feel festive and add extra nutrients. Consider eating more root vegetables, squash, and citrus fruits during the winter. You can turn them into cozy casseroles, soups, or stews. Your exercise routine can also change to match the season. Snowshoeing, skiing, and ice skating are fun ways to get active this time of year.
Cut Back on Sugar
While a slice of pie (or two) on Thanksgiving or a candy cane on Christmas won’t damage your health, eating sugary foods every day can cause serious harm. Soda, candy, and processed foods with added sugars significantly lower your immune response for several hours after you ingest them. A diet high in sugar can cause type 2 diabetes, unhealthy weight, and cardiovascular problems in the long term. Sometimes people get into bad eating habits over the holidays and then carry them through into the following year.
Don’t forget that alcohol turns into sugar in your body. It can also dehydrate you, further straining your immune system. Drinking alcohol and eating sugar in moderation over the holidays is important for keeping up your immunity and overall health.
Make Time for Preventative Care
You probably have a lot on your mind this time of year, and checking in with your health care provider might not be at the top of your list. This is understandable, but receiving preventative healthcare before the holidays can help you feel your best for those special moments. Consider going in for your yearly physical if you haven’t already. Check in with your family’s doctors to ensure everyone is up to date on vaccinations and that chronic conditions are being well managed. Many chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, can hamper the immune system if they aren’t well controlled. Some medications can weaken the immune system, so it’s a good idea to ask your doctor if you need to take extra steps to prevent illness.
Chiropractic care is another type of preventative care that can benefit your family around the holidays. Chiropractors specialize in balancing the nervous system via spinal manipulation. Adjustments can boost the immune system, relieve stress, and reduce pain. If you deal with chronic pain, talk to your chiropractor about treatment options. Many effective, non-invasive treatments are available to reduce joint and back pain. Chiropractic care can help you feel better and be more active during the winter months.
Explore Herbal Medicine
Together with a healthy lifestyle, herbs can boost immunity and even soothe symptoms of winter illnesses. Elderberry and echinacea are both famous immunity boosters. Many people swear that this combination keeps them well all winter. Blue vervain has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce symptoms of upper respiratory infections. Other herbs like goldenseal, reishi mushrooms, and ginseng are also used to increase immunity and fight infections.
Store-bought elderberry supplements are considered safe for most adults and children. Still, you should consult with a healthcare provider before using other herbs in children or people with chronic health conditions.
Preventative Healthcare in Kentucky
At All Star Chiropractic, we use state-of-the-art treatments and spinal adjustment to treat and prevent a wide array of health concerns. Our providers spend time with their patients and offer lifestyle advice and nutritional counseling in addition to treatments. Schedule a consultation today to see how we can help you live your healthiest life.