Christmas is just around the corner and ’tis the season to be jolly, but for lots of us, it's also the season to be sneezy and sniffly. Carol concerts are accompanied by a chorus of coughs, you’ve bought more packs of tissues than Christmas presents and there's a looming concern that the only seasonal surprise you'll be getting this year is Strep. It doesn’t seem fair that as soon as we down tools for Christmas we often find ourselves with flu-like symptoms, and it can really put a downer on festivities.
Unwrapping the Reasons We Get Sick During the Holidays
There are several reasons why our well-deserved breaks can get scuppered by sickness.
- Stress Response on Overdrive:
The run-up to Christmas can be stressful, with end-of-year work deadlines, increased expenses, and a jam-packed calendar - all to the endless loop of Mariah Carey. It is no surprise that our stress hormones are in overdrive during the hustle and bustle of the festive season: increased adrenaline and cortisol help us battle off colds, meet deadlines and keep up with busy schedules...until we can finally relax. However, as soon as we wrap up work and get time to unwind, our stress hormones are completely out of balance, making us vulnerable to infection. This phenomenon, known as the ‘Let-Down Effect’, could be the reason we become ill after a particularly stressful period. We might even have been silently fending off infection for a while without noticing, and in the absence of work-related distraction, the symptoms may manifest.
- More Social Gatherings
As the holiday season unfolds, so do the envelopes with invitations to social gatherings. Events such as family dinners, school nativities or lively office parties bring us closer to friends and family, but also to germs. Colder and darker days mean we spend more time socialising indoors, and with a lack of fresh air circulation, these situations can become a breeding ground for viruses.
Taking Leapfrog’s Lactoferrin supplement, IMMUNE, can support your immune system as you transition into holiday mode and become more exposed to unwelcome viruses. Lactoferrin is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory protein vital to our body’s immune response. When we are stressed and burnt out, as we often are by the time the holidays arrive, our Lactoferrin levels need a top-up to help fight off illness. With additional immunity-boosting Zinc and Vitamin C, our powerful immune support supplement could help you leapfrog over Christmas colds (and leave the red-nose for Rudolph).
- An "Oh Why Not" Diet
Mince pies, hot chocolate, gingerbread… Christmas is all about indulgence, but eating too much low-nutrient processed food during the festive season could make you more likely to get sick. Healthy and nutritious diets play a major role in supporting our immunity. Nutrients support our immune systems either by interfering with viruses directly, or indirectly by activating immune cells and helping them perform their function at optimum levels (1, 2). Therefore, while Christmas is for treats, nutritious meals will help ward off nasty viruses this winter.
Vitamins also have immunity-boosting properties (3), so make sure to eat plenty of vitamin-rich foods as well. Brussel sprouts are a rich source of vitamin C, which under certain conditions can restrict the susceptibility of the lower respiratory tract to infection. So, whether you love them or hate them, pop a few extra sprouts onto your plate this Christmas.
- A Suspect Sleep Schedule
It seems that Santa’s not the only one up all night at Christmas: drinking, over-eating, late-night festivities, and stress can all have a detrimental impact on our sleeping schedule. Disturbed sleep can make us more susceptible to illness, as our bodies produce infection-fighting proteins, known as cytokines, while we sleep (4). They support the body’s immune and inflammation responses, so it’s really important to catch the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night during the holidays.
Luckily, there are also preventative measures that we can take to ensure a season of flu-free cheer.
Many of us feel a mixture of stress and excitement during Christmas, and these heightened emotions and racing thoughts can cause us to struggle to switch off at night. Our SNOOZE sleep supplement can be a valuable aid in calming an overactive mind, paving the way for more restful sleep. Enriched with Lactium, they effectively lower cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone, while enhancing the flow of the soothing neurotransmitter GABA. Try taking 1 or 2 SNOOZE tablets before you head to bed to help you relax and unwind, as a good night of sleep can be the greatest gift for your immune system.