‘Tis the season for sharing . . . germs

How to boost your immune system for the holidays

The hustle and bustle of holiday celebrations will soon be upon us. The office parties are already in full swing and storefront windows are all decked out in holiday glitz. Your Christmas lights and decorations are up and all that is left to do is entertain family and friends.

This time of year can be wonderful, but it also brings a certain amount of stress. The last-minute shopping, family visits, kids running around the house and over-crowded shopping centers is exhausting just to think about.

All of that added stress also can affect your immune system. Hugs and handshakes represent golden opportunities for viruses, parasites and bacteria to join in the spirit of holiday sharing. You wonder how you will ever make it through the season without catching something.

And then you may ask yourself: Can probiotics really boost my immune system? The answer is yes.

According to dietitian and nutritionist Annie Jolicoeur, many cl inical studies have demonstrated the benefits of probiotics in terms of preventing and treating the common cold, the flu and gastroenteritis.

“ Taking probiotics reduces the severity and duration of symptoms like fever, coughing, runny nose, and even diarrhea,” Jolicoeur explained. “Therefore, it is recommended that all members of the family take probiotics every day.”

Maintaining a healthy intestinal flora helps to protect against the penetration of bacteria, parasites, and viruses, Jolicoeur advised.

“Did you know that the intestinal mucous membrane acts as the ‘cornerstone’ of your overall health? Two-thirds of the immune- defense cells in your body are found there. Therefore, your immune system is enhanced when you take probiotics.”

Here’s a tip: Jolicoeur recommends you start taking probiotics at least two weeks before the holiday season begins, so that your body will be well prepared to ward off the oncoming germ attacks.

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2013-11-28 digital edition

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