Staying healthy over the holidays… is it on your radar?
The holidays are wonderful, in their way, but they also create stress on our bodies (ironically). We’re out of our rhythm, our diets and eating patterns change, and, depending on your family, there is the stress of travel and pressure added in on top!
When there’s stress we get run down and, too often come January we’re sick and, quite honestly, ready for a holiday!
In this blog post I'm going to help you prevent that this year. And your work starts now.
When routine is shot, it’s tempting to stay up late and to let your kids do the same. But lack of sleep wears a body down quickly.
Sleep is our time to rejuvenate. Our hormones balance and our bodies detoxify when we sleep. During sleep we regulate cortisol levels, and high cortisol levels can disrupt our immune function.
Lack of sleep can also lead to overeating because our hunger and satiety hormones, ghrelin and leptin, are regulated when we sleep.
You can think of sleep as our body’s way of hitting the reset button so we’re ready to go another round.
So try, best you can, to maintain some sort of consistent bedtime routine over the holidays… despite all the excitement.
We all eat too much sugar over the holidays. There are all kinds of problems with sugar which I won’t get into here, but one thing to remember is that sugar depletes us of magnesium.
The mineral magnesium is a catalyst – it is involved in making some 200 or so reactions happen in the body. So because of that low levels of magnesium can have far reaching effects ranging of fatigue to insomnia to leg cramps.
In my family we all take an extra dose of magnesium, especially over the holidays. I like the liquid magnesium from Cytomatrix you can find on my dispensary.
In the winter months as the weather gets colder we tend to get dehydrated (especially in my part of the country where it gets quite cold and snowy).
Dehydration adds an extra burden on the body leaving it sluggish. We are more likely to get constipated and retain metabolic waste when we are dehydrated. We are also more likely to get headaches and feel tired, which in turn makes us more likely to sink into the couch with the TV remote.
Drink lots of water and herbal tea to stay hydrated.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants which help protect the body from stress. The fresher the better, which, at this time of year can be difficult given the growing season.
In my family I increase our consumption of elderberry in the winter months. It is particularly high in vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. I make tea and syrup out of the elderberries. I also like to give my kids this powdered fruit and veggie powder when our access to fresh veggies wanes.
Of all the things that make us ill, stress is the elephant in the room. Stress will trump all our efforts at staying healthy.
Stress – the physiological reaction to our perception of a situation – starts a cascade of hormonal havoc in our bodies that has been linked to just about every illness going.
Stress also increases the hormone cortisol which can negatively affects immune function, sleep, weight, and gut health.
So take some time to relax over the holiday, but try to do so in an active way. Get outside, go for a walk, go skating with the kids, have a snowball fight. Move your body and reconnect with your family, your spouse, and your kids. Set some goals. Breathe into the beauty of your life.
What would a blog post from me be without a shout-out to digestion? I harp on it. Yes I do. Because I have seen such amazing transformations – in kids and adults alike – when people start to take care of their gut.
If you’re into fermented foods, now’s the time to boost consumption. If you’re not, then get a broad spectrum probiotic supplement.
Probiotics will ensure that the stress and sugar of the holidays will not open up a “window of opportunity” for pathogenic bacteria and yeast to proliferate in the gut.
The gut is the seat of the immune system - feeding the bacterial ecosystem “down there” with probiotics (and probiotic-rich foods) will go a long way to keeping you all healthy (more on digestion here).
Visit any good health food store to get a multi strain probiotic, or set up an account on my virtual dispensary and have it delivered to your door. I like the Multistrain 11 from Cyto-matrix.
Alongside all these strategies to support the immune system you might benefit from an immune support supplement as well.
My favourites are listed in the "immune health" category of my dispensary here, but in case you're not in Canada, here are my top three:
Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Follow these simple steps so you can enjoy it - while it's going on and after it's all over
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Jess is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist™ and Family Health Expert, specializing in brain health & resilience for kids. She is the author of Raising Resilience: Take the stress out of feeding your family & love your life, a mother and an advocate for children’s health. Her book and online resources have helped families all over the world improve the lives of their children with learning differences, anxiety, ADHD, autism and mood disorders by fitting the food and feeding piece into their health puzzles. She is the 2019 recipient of the CSNNAA award for Clinical Excellence for her work helping families get healthier, and she continues to work at bringing an understanding of the power of good nutrition to the mainstream conversation about children’s mental health, learning, and overall resilience through her blog, courses and as a contributor to print and online magazines. You can reach Jess at www.jesssherman.com
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