The holiday season can be a very stressful time of year. There are presents to buy, people to visit, money to spend and meals to prepare. Some studies have shown increased stress may leave you susceptible to illness. In addition, the flu season began early this year and may increase in severity. Without your health the holiday season could be a disaster. Here are 5 ways to stay healthy during the holidays.
Wash Your Hands: I know. We have all heard this before but according to the Center of Disease Contol (CDC) hand-washing continues to be the number one way to prevent the transmission of bacteria or viruses. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds to help avoid sickness. Antibacterial gels are also a good way to prevent transmission when you do not have access to water, but nothing substitutes for hand-washing. Remember to wash your hands after using the bathroom, before food preparation and prior to eating. Try to encourage your family to do the same.
Drink Plenty of Water: Water helps flush out toxins from your body and helps carry nutrients to your cells. Aim for 8-10 ( 8 oz) glasses of water per day. Carry a water bottle with you to remind you to drink water throughout the day. The cold weather may deter you from drinking water but the good news is that tea and coffee can count towards your fluid intake too! Water continues to be the ideal choice for fluid intake but new research is showing that all fluids count toward your daily goal, even food items such as watermelon or apples.
Eat at Least 5 servings of Fruit and Vegetables Daily: Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that help keep your body performing at its best. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which help protect and repair cells. Examples of antioxidants include Vitamin C, beta-carotene and Vitamin E. Eating fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors increase your chance of meeting your nutrient needs. Bring mandarins with you while you are on the go, steam up some broccoli for dinner, or throw bell peppers into your eggs in the morning.
Get Enough Sleep: Your body regenerates itself while you are sleeping. Some studies suggest sleep deprivation can lead to a depressed immune system and weight gain. Make sure you are receiving at least 7 hours of sleep a night. If you have difficulty sleeping try to develop a bedtime routine, listen to relaxing music, or perform some simple stretches before going to bed. If you have consistent difficulty with sleeping I encourage you to seek out professional medical advice.
Aim For at Least 25 g Fiber Daily: A healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract is one your best ways to avoid sickness. Your GI tract has beneficial bacteria that helps fight off bad bacteria. Eating food items high in fiber like whole grains, fruits and vegetables help feed the good bacteria. In addition, food items such as yogurt with added probiotics may help to increase the good bacteria in your body.