9 Tips to Boost Your Immune System During the Holidays

By Staff Writer - December 06, 2023

The holiday season is a time to give thanks, celebrate with family and friends, and focus on what is truly important — which includes boosting your immune system. It can help you stay healthy and enjoy all the festivities.

What if you have cancer? Are there things you can do to help protect your health during this time of the year?

Dr. John Greene, chair of the Infectious Diseases Program
Dr. John Greene, Chair, Infectious Diseases Program

“Our patients, especially blood cancer patients, are the most immunocompromised and at the highest risk for infections,” said Dr. John Greene, chair of the Infectious Diseases Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. “It’s important they consider getting the recommended vaccines and take precautions when traveling.”

Here are nine simple tips to help you give the gift of good health during the busy holiday season:

1. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. 
Whenever possible, use soap and running water to create a rich lather, then vigorously rub your hands together for a minimum of 20 seconds. This is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. 

2. Avoid overindulgence. 
Overeating and excessive alcohol consumption can strain your body and weaken your immune system. Enjoy holiday treats in moderation. 

3. Maintain a balanced diet. 
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Include lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats in your meals. Limit sugary and highly processed foods, as they can weaken the immune system. 
 
4. Stay hydrated. 
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help flush out toxins and keep your body functioning optimally. 
 
5. Get enough sleep. 
Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night to allow your body to rest and repair. 
 
6. Exercise regularly. 
Engage in moderate physical activity to boost circulation and support immune function. Even a brisk walk can help. 
 
7. Manage stress. 
The holidays can be stressful, so practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing or yoga to help lower stress levels. 
 
8. Stay up to date on vaccinations. 
Ensure that you and your family are up to date on the flu shot and other recommended vaccines such as the COVID booster and RSV shot to protect against preventable diseases. 
 
9. Stay informed. 
Keep an eye on local health advisories and guidelines, especially during the holiday season, to make informed decisions about gatherings and travel. 
 
Remember that no single lifestyle change can guarantee immunity against illnesses, but a combination of these practices can help support your immune system and keep you healthier during the holiday season. It’s also important to consult with a health care professional before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle, especially if you have underlying health conditions or concerns. 

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