Tips to thrive (and survive) the holiday season

There is no doubt that the hectic holiday season can lead to stress. What people may not realise is that stress can lead to a compromised immune system. Couple that with less sleep, perhaps a little overindulging and being around large groups of people can all increase the likelihood of illness, and no one wants to be sick during the holidays!
In the lead up to Christmas and New Year, try boosting your immune system naturally. Prevention is always better than a cure, and luckily there are many things you can do to give your body a fighting chance! Get ready for the holidays and the new year ahead with these simple vegan-friendly tips.

Raw garlic is one of the most potent of all foods. Garlic has been used for thousands of years for treatment and illness and more recent studies have indeed supported the claims that garlic does boost the body’s immune system. Cooking garlic can destroy some of its health-promoting compounds so the best way to start including it into your diet is by adding freshly chopped garlic to your meals. If you can’t quite stomach raw garlic, you can also try taking garlic capsules. You can also find organic aged garlic capsules on the market now that offer an even higher dosage of immune boosting properties.

Vitamin C is an extremely important nutrient for boosting immunity. You can add vitamin C to your diet in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage and parsley. Vitamin C increases the activity of infection-fighting white blood cells. Vitamin C not only assists in preventing the common cold, it has also been shown to lessen the duration of the symptoms if you do fall ill.

Zinc may be the most important mineral for your immune system. A Zinc deficiency can cause a weakened immune response, predisposing you to a more lengthy or severe cold. In fact, optimal zinc levels have been found to inhibit the common cold virus. Excellent sources of zinc on a vegan diet are tofu, tempeh, black and green soybeans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, oats, wheat germ and nutritional yeast. Taking a zinc supplement can also be beneficial.

Avoid inflammatory and processed foods that can compromise your immune system. Try to also avoid fried foods, high-fructose corn syrup, refined sugars, trans fats or chemical additives. These foods all cause inflammation in the body and their acidic nature requires the body to work overtime to expel their harmful effects. Meat and dairy foods are major culprits in causing internal inflammation which is yet another great reason why eating a vegan diet can support your health and wellbeing all year round!.

Natural supplements are now commonly available that help to boost your immune system. There are some key herbs that naturopaths and herbalists commonly use and advise to offer protection against infection, including astragalus, andrographis, Echinacea and olive leaf. 
When a cold or flu strikes, try using natural supplements to help support and boost your body’s natural immune function. Both the common cold and flu are caused by viruses and what many people may not realise is that antibiotics are not able to kill viruses; they are only able to help with bacterial infections.

Increasing your water intake is one of the easiest ways to flush toxins out of the body and avoid dehydration. Dehydration can also inhibit cognitive function and leave you with a sluggish digestion. Try to keep hydrated with at least 8 glasses of water a day, and enjoy lemon water or herbal teas in place of soft drinks or coffee which are both dehydrating.

Vitamin D can be powerful in strengthening of your immune system. The sun is the absolute best source of vitamin D so get outside into the fresh air and soak in some golden rays- it is the holidays after all. Do remember to be sun safe and always opt for natural, organic, cruelty free sun protection.

Rest up! Taking time out actually does wonders for our immune system. Stress plays a vital role in our bodies’ immune function and can be a leading cause in all kinds of illness from the common cold to more serious and life-threatening disease. The body needs time to heal, rest and recuperate. Learn how to listen to your body when you need some down time, and even if the holiday season is busy, remember to relax and enjoy yourself as much as possible.

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