Did you ever wonder why the FLU season peaks right after the holidays?
There are reasons for this and it all comes down to the health of your immune system.
So what could possibly weaken your immune system over the holidays?
Well a simple acronym I came up with for the word FLU can give you some answers:
F stands for Food
L stands for Late nights
U stands for Unlimited stress
F for the immune stress from unhealthy Food. Yes, all of the Holiday food habits that can stress your body and immune system.
It starts with Halloween and all the sugary, chemical-laden treats that many kids (and adults) overindulge in. That’s just the warm-up though for the peak holiday/flu season.
Thanksgiving is all about the food! Most everyone is stuffing themselves beyond capacity, including countless desserts, and maybe drinking too much alcohol. One year, between what my wife Dawn baked and our guests brought, we had 12 different desserts on our table! And that was on top of a huge Thanksgiving meal.
This is followed by Christmas and the winter Holidays- more food, more sweets, and maybe a lot more alcohol; things that your body just isn’t used to. And yes, sorry to say, sugar can absolutely weaken your immune system.
L for the Late nights.
So many things to do, staying out late, kids are out of school staying up way past bedtime. Usually past midnight on Christmas Eve and New Year’s eve (which just happens to be the very peak of the FLU season). Just because you sleep till noon doesn’t make up for going to bed late. Think about how exhausted you feel when you get up a couple of hours later than you usually do. Truth is, lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, making you more likely to get sick when exposed to a virus.
U for Unlimited stress.
On top of your already bursting at the seams schedule, you have presents to buy, more presents to buy, and last-minute presents to buy.
Many are shopping all night on Black Friday. Presents to wrap past midnight, holiday cookies to bake (and eat) and the kids are home from school. Travel, dealing with extended family, ex’s and the in-laws. It’s all crazy!
So to put it all together, getting sick is all about stress depleting your immune system.
Stress from too much sugar, maybe alcohol, and food you’re not used to eating.
Too little sleep or even changing your sleep schedule is a source of tremendous stress and burnout.
And the emotional stress from having so much more to do on top of an already crammed schedule with no time to relax.
Add this all up and it’s a recipe for disaster.
After all this, I bet you just want to take a break, relax and do nothing.
Well as I was writing this it came to me what the FLU stands for if you actually come down with it.
F = Forget everything
L = Lay down
U = Unlimited rest
Finally, this is exactly what you needed after all those weeks of craziness. You get to lay in bed for days, with nothing to do but rest. But the problem is you are miserable- fever, aches and pains, headache, congestion, sore throat, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or fatigue. If you’re lucky, maybe you just catch a cold. In any case, not exactly the “vacation” you were looking for.
There is a better way to prevent this:
F for Healthy Foods. Yes, you can have the sweets and go a little overboard but keep it reasonable and eat plenty of healthy foods as your foundation.
L for Lighten up your schedule and set boundaries. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, ideally by 10 PM, and certainly before 11. Remember, you can accomplish a lot more by getting up early than staying up late.
U for Unwind. Of course, you have a lot more to do but set priorities. Take a day and relax at the beach, make sure you are sticking to your exercise program, go for a walk outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. Maybe you can actually have some quality time and fun with the kids or your significant other. Holidays do not have to mean “Hell-idays”.
For extra help in keeping your immune system healthy, the following supplements have helped many of my patients over the years:
- Immune Support formula is an herbal remedy that has saved me many times at the first sign of a cold or feeling sick. From my experience, it often prevents anything from taking hold and if you do get sick, I’ve seen many times where it shortens the duration of symptoms dramatically.
- Vitamin D offers immune support with studies to back its cold and flu prevention powers. I generally recommend 2000 iu/day for kids and 5000 iu/day for adults. Of course, your specific requirements depend on your blood levels, which we can also check if needed.
- ProbioSupreme 100 is a powerful probiotic. This is for both digestive health and immune support, since over 70% of the immune system is located in your gut.
So remember, stay on the correct path by eating healthy foods, going to bed early and keeping your schedule in check.
Also, use the above supplements for you and your family, and you may be surprised at how healthy you are this flu season.
Yours for Vibrant Health,
Dr. Tom Rofrano