They lurk on elevator buttons and door handles. They thrive on grocery cart handles and ATM buttons. And, most likely, they’re everywhere in your home. Germs from bacteria and viruses tend to run rampant in this time of year, and this might be making you a little worried. After all, it’s the holiday season; you’ve simply got no time to be sick! It so happens that the holidays create the perfect storm for you falling victim to becoming ill. After all, you and everyone else are indoors a lot more, you tend to spend more time with people at parties and potlucks (often talking closely, sharing food, touching the same utensil handles), and you’re probably running on a little less sleep with a bit more stress.
Not only that, but a study (found here http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms8000) published in 2015 found that for those of us who live in climates that get cold in the winter, about 25% of our DNA shifts with the changing seasons. During the winter months our bodies rev up the genes associated with producing inflammation, and this can help fight off infection. However, if overstimulated, inflammation can attack the immune system, making you much more likely to get sick.
And in case that weren’t enough, research shows that the rhinovirus, responsible for the common cold, replicates more easily in cooler temperatures.Is it any wonder why you, and so many others, often get sick in the winter?
We have a few ways to keep the “Christmastime Cold” at bay. Even if you’re familiar with some of these tips, it never hurts to get a little preseason reminder.
Get thyself outside. Not only does the sun promote the body to produce Vitamin D, but recent studies suggest that sun exposure can activate immune cell activity. The sun can be beneficial even when the weather outside is frightfully cold. So bundle up and head out for a brisk walk.
Give Elements a call. Did you know that massage has been shown to increase the activity of the body’s white blood cells, improving your immune system? Massage can also improve sleep and reduce stress, both of which can also help bolster your immunity. Not only that, but the essential oils we use during massage are antibacterial, and can help zap germs and viruses present on your skin.
Keep cravings in check. We know – nothing says winter comfort like steaming mugs of hot chocolate, holiday cookies, and apple cider. However, eating too much of the sweet stuff can cause your immune system to take a siesta, making you more prone to getting sick.
On that note, eat foods that will help your body. Load up on rainbow-bright produce to stock your body with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and zinc. Also, a 2010 study at the University of Illinois found that the fiber in fruits, nuts, and oats can help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
Wash well, and wash often. And not just after you use the restroom. Some of the top germiest public places include elevators, door handles, public touch-screens, restaurant menus, and public condiment bottles. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy for a quick use in between washings.