Avoiding Holiday Sickness

December 01, 2019

Avoiding Holiday Sickness

Now that we're into December, it's officially the beginning of the holiday season. That means parties, social gatherings, shopping, etc. With all the holiday activities and people around, it can be very easy to get worn down and expose yourself to germs.

Here are a few tips to keep you healthy this holiday season.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes a high intake of fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains. Be sure to sprinkle in some holiday treats as well, but a well-balanced diet provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help fight sickness.
  • Set boundaries and make time for rest. That can be difficult this time of year with so much going on, but sleep helps your body heal and repair itself as well as it helps your immune system work effectively. If you start feeling worn down, you may need to slow down and learn how to say no to new commitments that pop up.
  • Wash your hands often. Between social gatherings and holiday shopping, you never know what germs you're being exposed to. Wash your hands frequently, or if that's not always an option, carry around some hand sanitizer.
  • Keep hydrated. Water helps move nutrients through the body and helps remove waste. When you're busy, it's easy to forget to drink. Carry a water bottle with you as a reminder.
  • Supplement? It's up to you if you choose to take supplements. Research has shown very little success with supplements being effective at preventing or treating the common cold. The current research on supplements to help a cold include:
    • Supplementing with zinc acetate (>75 mg/day) may help to speed up recovery time once a cold has started. Unfortunately, this won't prevent a cold from occurring in the first place, and it's a short-term solution, as taking zinc in that high a dosage on a daily basis can have health consequences.
    • Some studies have shown that regular doses of >200 mg/day of Vitamin C may help to reduce the duration of a cold. However, starting supplements after the cold has already started is generally ineffective. 
    • Research has shown that regular intake of North American ginseng extracts (200 mg twice daily for four months) may shorten the duration of a cold in healthy adults. Again, this would need to be done prior to the cold starting and is ineffective after a cold has already started.
If you do come down with a cold this holiday season, unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do except wait it out. Rest, stay hydrated, and try to avoid situations where you are passing germs to others as much as possible.

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