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3 Important Things To Remember About Holiday Stress And The Flu

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The flu has a season for a reason and very often it has to do with our own self-care during the holidays. While holiday stress certainly plays into why we become run down there are other things we do to lower our immune function.


There Is More Than One Cause For Holiday Stress

Holiday stress doesn’t only have to do with the hustle and bustle of shopping, running up holiday debt and wrapping gifts. It has to do with the way we live our day to day lives during the holiday season. The holiday season is the longest stretch of the year to slack on good health practices and it’s also the time of year our immune systems take a hit.

While deficiency is perhaps the one way in which you compromise your immune system, this is magnified during the holiday season with other ways in which you stress your body. However, once you become mindful of these stressors you will be better able to have some control over them. Here are three important things to remember about holiday stress and how it contributes to colds and the flu.

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1. The Body Perceives Alcohol As Poison

Despite what you’ve heard about the health benefits of wine, your body reacts to alcohol as it would a poison. This means your body works against it. From the moment you take a sip, your body begins to react. When alcohol enters your body, your body sees it as a poison to which it wishes to counteract. In an attempt to counteract alcohol’s effect, the body produces an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. This happens after alcohol has passed through the stomach lining into the liver. All of this extra work is another way in which you stress your body during the holiday and one way in which you lower your body’s resistance.

Related: Sugar Is Depressing Your Child's Immune System But You Can Stop The Addiction

2. Sugar Suppresses The Immune System

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All the baking and sweets that come along with the joy of the holiday season comes at a cost to your health. Not only do the baked goodies cause you to feel sluggish and gain weight, the amount of refined sugar you’re taking in by eating holiday confections actually works against your body and suppresses your immune system.

An undisputed 1973 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that sugar suppresses the immune system, which can leave you wide open to colds and the flu, particularly around the holiday season when sugar consumption is high.

3. Overeating Causes Physiological Stress

Of all the other ways in which we knowingly stress our body, we never consider overeating as one of them. The holiday season is prime season for overeating. Therefore overeating is perhaps the longest duration in which your body experiences stress. Overeating to a point of discomfort puts a terrible strain on your digestive organs. It also throws the body’s digestive system into overdrive, sometimes for days afterward, to process the food you have eaten. Again this type of physiological stress works to lower your body’s resistance, leaving you ripe for colds, flu and other seasonal diseases.

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Be Mindful Of Your Holiday Indulgences

There is no immunization for what we do to ourselves during the holiday season. A stressed body is a weakened body and one that is susceptible to disease. It’s important to practice self-kindness and be mindful of your habits during the holiday season, particularly if you are prone to colds and flu. Eat more nourishing and easily digested plant-based foods. Keep your animal protein consumption low since animal protein tends to take days to digest. Finally, limit your intake of refined sugar and alcohol -- it could be the difference between illness and health.