Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas And The Perfect Storm

In truth, I love, I mean REALLY love the Christmas season.  I love the meaning of Christmas, I love the chance to see friends and family I've not seen in a while, I love the sounds, the sights, I love the food and fellowship.  There's not much I don't like about the season.  (maybe the extra pounds I have the potential to pack on).

However, the season is ripe with opportunity to get sick.  It's the perfect storm for ill health.  And there's sound, scientific reason for it.  Read on.

One, it's the "cold and flu" season.  There are many theories as to why this particular "season" exists.  Solid evidence points to a lack of Vitamin D in our bodies.  Most of us are deficient in this important vitamin, and even more so in the winter with less sun exposure occurring.  Vitamin D has a major effect on the immune system's function.  Also, we tend to have much drier air all around us, which initially dries out our mucous membranes in our nose and throat, which is a line of defense against bugs and bacteria of all sorts.  So stay hydrated and take your Vitamin D!

Secondly, this time of year, we tend to live a life that is diametrically opposed to the wellness lifestyle.  Remember what I always teach:  Eat well, move well, think well and rest well.  Think just for a second on that.  Isn't this time of year the antithesis to that lifestyle??  I'd vote yes.  Let's see why.

Undoubtedly we tend to be exposed to a LOT more sugar in our body.  And man is it good.  We had a patient bring us a pecan pie on the day before the official start to the holidays.  Very tasty, very sugary, very bad for our immune system.  One sugary meal or drink has been shown to slow down our immune response.  Goodness knows we get plenty of those treats brought out to us, or made by us, during the Christmas season.

This season gets us so busy we can't always exercise as regularly as we'd like.  Sometimes the weather plays a factor.  Sometimes we just get out of our normal routines with holidays coming around.  Or we might even stay up later at a party, causing us to not want to rise and exercise.   Appropriate exercise boosts immunity, sedentary lifestyles depress it.

STRESS!!!!  Nah, there's no stress during the holidays is there?  Didn't think so. Depression is also more common this time of year.  Some people are lonely, some are lacking Vitamin D for the same reasons we spoke of a few paragraphs ago.  Stress certainly depresses our immune system.

Finally, it's PARTY TIME!  Lots of great gatherings are to be found, plenty of opportunity to get out of rhythm with our life cycles, plenty of chances for later nights, plenty of time for hustling and bustling for presents and food......all leading to decreased rest which of course...depresses the immune system.

There we have it, the perfect storm.  Knowledge is power they say, but I disagree.  Applied knowledge is power, so take this information and plot and plan a way to combat it so you can enjoy your season illness free.

Until next time...Be Well!
Dr. Bruce

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