V.A.C. #13 Have some Holly Jolly Immunity

Good evening Travellers,

It’s still snowing here…I’m gonna have one helluva shoveling job tomorrow…To my count, I believe I am one day behind so we get to open another little door of our virtual advent calendar tonight. Sort of like opening gifts earlier than expected, right? Or at least I hope you feel so…

I have a certain song in mind for this evening, HERE we go…

When we open tiny door #13 of our virtual advent calendar, there’s a tiny collection of little bottles containing capsules/pills and potions, and a small glass of orange liquid in their midst. I’m not sure if there’s such a thing as magical elixirs, but there are helpful things to try during this time of year, and no, it’s not recreational..

I’m talking about Immunity. It seems every year at this time, people start talking about your immune system and the oncoming onslaught of viruses, flus, and terrible illnesses that seem to propagate during the winter holiday season. It’s almost like we are under siege by a microscopic army that is virtually undefeatable.

Let’s face it, holidays are really a perfect storm for illness. People eating very badly, having an emotional tsunami rolling thru their souls, while not sleeping, not exercising and being perpetually stressed. We are touching our faces and eyes more often as we have to dress up for occasional parties and shaking hands/hugging many people we would normally not come into contact with. People use November and December to indulge a smorgasbord of culinary sins. Especially sugar. And lots of alcohol. All of that weakens our immunity, laying us wide open for that tiny unseen army to take up occupancy in our bodies.

Our immunity, that is our ability to fight off sickness and infection, resides in our gut. Specifically, there are colonies of good bacteria in your intestines that defend the body from bad bacteria. I think many people still believe that all bacteria are bad when nothing could be further from the truth. I think one of the single most important reasons to make healthy lifestyle choices is to cultivate your little microbiome inside of you. Especially this time of year.

Intestines may not be sexy looking or particularly photogenic, but they hold the quality of your life in their many twists and turns. What you eat, what medications you take, proper hydration, your mental health, sleep and exercise affect how well those little bacteria down there grow and prosper. They are your army to fight unwelcome microscopic intruders. They are in many ways, the key to your survival.

And more recently an interesting dialogue has gained momentum around good mental health hygiene beginning in your gut. We could even apply the proverbial chicken or the egg quandary when it comes to anxiety, depression and gut health. As in do those conditions cause your unhappy bowels OR do poorly maintained bowels contribute and exasperate those conditions… and these holiday months tend to cause both problems for many people.

SO what are we to do?

Let’s start with intentional eating at the holidays. I’m not a believer in deprivation because it always backfires. What I do believe in is moderation, remember my stomach/fist analogy a few posts back. I really could talk ad nauseam here about eating, but everyone else already has, so let’s go back to a standard I like to apply: treat you body like you give a f*ck…ALL YEAR LONG. If you are in a bad mood, sugar and liquor will only make it worse. Food is not just for tasting, you are feeding your little army. Sugar and alcohol lay waste to your personal regiment.

Drink lots of water. In fact, drink mostly water with the exception of perhaps some kind of vitamin C supplement like Emergen-C. That’s the tiny glass with orange liquid in it in behind our little door. Vitamin C is a powerhouse for your immune system, BUT you still have to eat well and hydrate. Taking supplements will not band aid other excesses. And I like transparency on supplements, here’s a little ARTICLE on Emergan-C.

Zinc is another good mineral for immunity and shortening the duration of colds should you contact one. There appears to be supporting science for Zinc as well.There are many different supplements to choose from when it comes to Zinc, so start sleuthing.

My big discovery this year is something that three other people advised me to consider within 24 hours of one another. It felt like the universe was saying, Hey Amy, maybe try this out…black elderberrry syrup. I’m not gonna lie, the taste is abit much. I take it right before bed and I can’t prove this, but I’ve been sleeping so soundly for the past month. Not sure if it’s the yummy flannel sheets or the badly tasting elixir, but so far so good.

Elderberry is another great immunity booster, and it seems to lay claim to a number of other benefits as well. I’m attaching some links HERE and HERE about it, so you can read for yourself. The first one is the brand I’m using, Gaia, and the second is a research based information article.

My wasband was a big fan of Echinacea  whenever he was under the weather and I know many other people feel the same way. I’ve never tried it because of my random plant allergies, but it might be worth investigating for yourself. Usually it comes in pill or capsule form.

Let me interject, I’m not big on supplements. I know most athletes have a small arsenal of stuff they take, but I’m a very basic vitamin array girl with glucosamine chondroitin on the side. I do drink the Emergen-C each day as well, but that’s pretty much it. I think good food is the most important choice when it comes to nutrients and your gut.

When you are buying any kind of supplement, it’s very important to look at the concentration and follow the guide lines on dosing. Do some research to find good quality, because these things are not cheap, I always want my moneys worth, don’t you? Someone I know recommended the Gaia brand for elderberry syrup to me who had taken it every winter season for the past few years. She even claimed it made her skin healthier? Who knows….

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big believer in bio-individualism, and what works for one person may not work for the next, but I think any extra boost is worth trying at least once. On top of eating well, sleeping regularly, drinking a lot of water, managing your stress and daily exercise. I know it seems like a lot doesn’t it? It does require a great deal of effort to be healthy, but isn’t wellness the foundation of happiness? And don’t we all need as much happiness as we can find during this holiday season?

Do you have any favorite tried and true herbs, potions or lotions that seem to ward off seasonal illnesses? Please share your wisdom in the comment section below.

Happy Holidays everyone!!



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