The holiday season is a time of good cheer, but with all the traveling, chilly temperatures and crowded gatherings, it’s also prime time for sickness. While you can’t protect yourself from all germs, washing your hands, getting plenty of rest and following these tips can help you stay healthy this holiday season.
1. Enjoy some vitamin C
By now, you likely have heard of the benefits of this powerful antioxidant. It’s important to many vital bodily functions — including the growth and repair of tissues. But you probably know it from its supposed cold-fighting properties. While research is not definitive on vitamin C’s ability to fight or shorten colds, it does help your cells fight damage from free radicals.
How much should you be consuming? The recommended daily allowance varies by age and gender — 75 mg for women, 90 mg for men. Try adding some oranges, mangoes, kiwifruit or grapefruit to your daily diet. Raw broccoli, red peppers and kale are also good sources.
2. Give your gut a helping hand
A large portion of our immune system is in our gut. There are millions of bacteria — both good and bad — inhabiting our gut. Give the good bacteria in your gut a helping hand by eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi or yogurt. Or try a supplement.
3. Drink plenty of water
While you’re enjoying festive holiday beverages, don’t forget to stay hydrated. You often hear about the benefits of drinking water when sick, but staying hydrated during the winter months when you’re healthy can help prevent respiratory viruses by keeping the sinus passages from drying out. In addition to water, try adding veggies like cucumber, iceberg lettuce and tomatoes — which contain high levels of water — to snacks or meals. Or try strawberries, cantaloupe or sweet peppers.
4. Travel safely
Travel can be stressful. And when you consider that studies on airline travel have found that some tray tables harbor the flu virus or MRSA bacteria, the idea of hitting the road or the skies this season can make it more stressful. Disinfect common surfaces — like your tray table or armrests on a bus — with some disinfecting wipes. If you’ll be flying, remember to drink plenty of water — especially because cabin air can be very dry. Take an empty water bottle with you, fill it up once you’re past security and aim to drink 8 ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air.
If you’re staying in a hotel, don’t forget to stay active. Use the facility’s pool or gym to get some exercise.
A few slight tweaks to your holiday routine — like downing extra water or eating some citrus fruit — can help ensure your holidays stay merry.