Is my immune system shot?
I love spending time with friends and family, but every time I go to a gathering, I end up with a sore throat and sniffles. It’s like my immune system can’t handle
anything. What gives?
Many women I see in my practice come down with a cold soon after the holidays because the joyous season can be hard on the immune system. It starts with seasonal increases in stress and sleeplessness, both of which interfere with the body’s ability to produce infection-fighting antibodies. Add increased exposure to germs during extended family time and you end up with a fairly reliable recipe for illness.
That’s why I recommend dedicating at least 10 minutes of every day to self-care. So many of us are burning the candle at both ends, but taking some “me time” to pamper yourself—perhaps by applying a face mask, doing some stretches or simply taking an extra five minutes after a shower to apply lotion—can really go a long way toward reducing stress levels so the body can ramp up its immune defenses. And if you start to feel the beginnings of a cold coming on, double down on your self-care. Stay home, make sleep a priority and just take care of yourself. I also suggest incorporating foods that support immune function, like fish, greens, beans, olive oil and nuts, as well as vitamin C–rich foods like red peppers and citrus fruits.
That said, I also have to note the number-one defense against germs: Wash, wash, wash your hands. Soap and water is the best way to remove microbes and avoid getting sick, but an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol works in a pinch—just make sure you continuously rub the gel into your hands until all of the sanitizer has evaporated to ensure you’re protected.