As Thanksgiving approaches and we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, we want to wish you and your family a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season. We understand this time of year can be particularly challenging regarding public health even outside of a pandemic, so we want to give you some tips on staying healthy and helping preserve the health of your loved ones.
What steps can I take to keep my family safe during Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving means lots of time in the kitchen, football, and spending time with family. But how do you keep tradition while still following safety guidelines? Here are a few steps you can take.
- Wash your hands frequently. You’ve probably heard this a million times in the past few months, and it is also included in the CDC guidelines for reducing the spread of COVID-19. This is especially important if you are spending time outside of your home, if you are preparing food, or after you sneeze or cough. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important to your health in general, but it is especially important in regards to COVID-19.
- Wear a mask. When you are unable to stay home, wear a mask in public places and maintain a social distance of 6 feet from others outside your household.
- Limit gatherings and exposure to high risk individuals. It may be tempting to continue family traditions and attempt a “normal” Thanksgiving dinner with your family, but this year you may need to get creative when making your holiday plans.
As we know, older individuals and those with underlying conditions are at the highest risk for coronavirus complications, and large gatherings are discouraged and even prohibited in some areas to help reduce the spread of disease. Large gatherings may prove dangerous for your loved ones, and as such should be avoided.
Instead, consider opting for a virtual celebration where family members can enjoy each other’s company while still staying safe and healthy. Want to make the holiday more special for older or high risk individuals? Send them a handwritten card letting them know you are thinking of them, make them a plate of your homemade thanksgiving dinner and leave it on their doorstep, or invite them to a virtual game night. Remember to limit gatherings to those in your immediate household, but get creative with how to include your loved ones in a safe, socially distanced manner.
Are there any ingredients I could include in my Thanksgiving recipes to promote a healthy immune system?
Believe it or not, the performance of your body and immune system can be greatly impacted by the fuel you provide. Eating healthy, whole foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables is important to not only maintaining a healthy diet and weight, but also boosting your immune system. This season, it is also important to watch those calories to avoid excessive weight gain. In addition to eating healthy, try including these ingredients in your favorite recipes for an extra boost to your immune system!
- Turmeric – Using turmeric is a natural way to help boost your immune system by increasing the immunomodulating capacity of the body. Turmeric has also been shown to help fight symptoms of depression which can be helpful as we spend more time alone in our homes while practicing social distancing. Turmeric can improve your overall mood and help balance the symptoms that are a result of stress.
- Garlic – Garlic is not only a tasty addition to your favorite Thanksgiving dishes, but is also another natural way to help boost that immune system. Much like the benefits of turmeric, garlic can help improve mental health and immune function. Garlic contains compounds that are known to improve the response of white blood cells that are responsible for fighting off dangerous viruses. While the taste may be strong, the more garlic you use, the better if you are looking to reap the most benefits. We recommend using at least 2 cloves per meal if your recipe allows for it.
- Ginger – Ginger has become increasingly popular as an additive to many smoothies, juices, and even as ginger shots to improve immune response. Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can be very beneficial when you are trying to maintain your health. While ginger can be an acquired taste, when paired with honey and lemon or even as an ingredient in a tasty smoothie filled with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables it can be a tasty, healthy treat that will help you combat illness.
Should I be taking vitamins?
There are many benefits of taking vitamins, especially this time of year. Here are a few key vitamin supplements you can take and their benefits.
- Probiotics – Probiotics are mainly used to help reintroduce healthy bacteria back into the digestive system. However, did you know that they can have other health benefits, too? Probiotics can help to improve some mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and stress. Certain types of probiotics have also been known to help keep your heart healthy and boost your immune system. While inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, probiotics promote the growth of antibodies that help your body fight disease.
- Multivitamins – Multivitamins are often recommended as a daily supplement to help give your body the vitamins and minerals you might not fully receive from food alone. By fueling your body with the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly, you will help give yourself the best chance at fighting off illness.
- Zinc – Much like the others on this list, zinc also can improve the function of your immune system. Many people use zinc to help prevent and treat the common cold and other infections. While some may consume enough zinc in their diet, for others there are zinc supplements available in pill and liquid form. Be sure to take any zinc supplements with food to avoid upsetting your stomach.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D is best absorbed from the sun, so be sure to take some time to get outside during this time at home. Getting some sun can be as easy as taking your dog for a walk or enjoying a meal on your patio. Be sure to wear a protective broad-spectrum sunblock and practice social distancing when going outdoors. If you are unable to safely leave your home or if practicing safe social distancing is more difficult in your community, you can still get plenty of Vitamin D from your diet or by taking a vitamin D supplement.
While the COVID-19 virus is still being researched and there is no known cure, the best offense is always a great defense. Taking these precautions can help to keep your loved ones safe and strengthen your immune system, which in turn will help improve your health and strengthen your body.
It is important to note that the best way to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19 is by limiting your exposure and following the guidelines given by the CDC for social distancing and preventative measures. Though it can be hard to be away from your loved ones, it is important to prioritize the health and safety of those around you and follow these guidelines even during the holidays. For more information about how you can stay safe this Thanksgiving contact Southern Indiana Family Practice Center today.