The holidays can be both a time for enjoyment as well as a time that can be fairly stressful. Health issues can arise during this time so it is more important than ever to pay attention to our bodies’ needs. The following highlight areas to pay extra attention to while we get through the winter season.
The Immune System:
Vitamin D is a hormone and not a vitamin, meaning it binds to receptors on cell walls causing them to produce helpful proteins. Optimal dose for the winter in Canada from new guidelines is no more than 2000IU daily, more if you are known to be deficient. Astragalus has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries; this root tonifies the immune system and has a restorative effect on the adrenal glands to help us manage stress. The dose for a standardized extract is 250-500 mg three to four times per day.
Your Adrenal Glands:
The adrenal glands are those organs that give you energy and modulate your blood sugar, cortisol levels, sex hormones, mineral balance and immune system. B vitamins are involved in every step of energy production and are the most necessary nutrients for the adrenals. A sufficient dose to be taking on a daily basis especially during the holidays is between 50-100mg of a Bcomplex. Ashwaganda is an Ayeurvedic adaptogen that helps the body cope with stress. It contains phytochemicals that calm the brain, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and support the immune system. Recommended doses are 3-6 grams in raw dried herb form for 2-3 weeks at a time during stress.
Exercise is one of the best things to do to stave off SAD and prevent those extra pounds from creeping on from family feasts. Rejoin the gym or try hot yoga when the rain and early dark days make you feel like hibernating. Getting enough sleep can be difficult when under stress. Poor quality sleep or not getting enough hours depresses our immune system, slows down body tissue repair, speeds up aging and makes us less able to cope with stress. To support sleep, try a botanical nervine combination containing Scullcap, Passionflower, Oatstraw and lemonbalm. Following these simple recommendations and taking a few select nutrients or botanical supportives can leave you feeling able to cope with the craziness in the holidays and hopefully help you enjoy this time to its fullest. Written By:Dr. Kristen Bovee is a Naturopathic Physician who has been practicing for 10 years on the Saanich Peninsula and has recently joined Pure Pharmacy in Cordova Bay at the Pure Integrative Health Clinic. She has special interest in bio-identical hormones, weight loss, allergies, and pain management.