You’re rushing around to get Christmas gifts, the house needs cleaning, you have five-holiday parties to go to, and family is in town; does this sound familiar? The holidays can be a very stressful time, and excess stress has been known to weaken the immune system, thus making us more susceptible to falling ill. This paired with the fact we are exposed to more germs due to family visiting from out of town, it’s no wonder we are all getting sick during this time of year. Fortunately, there are several preventative measures you can take to make sure you’re doing the best to maintain overall well-being during this busy time of year.
As we have talked about previously, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for regulating most functions in the human body. One of these functions is our immune response. Cannabinoids (like CBD) interact with our ECS. When our ECS is active, it helps to aid our body in bringing itself back into balance (homeostasis). When our body is in balance, it is more likely to make sure proper immune function and regulation is occurring.
The immune system is extremely complex, and there is still much to be learned about it. We are excited to see more research being conducted about the relationship between CBD and the immune system. For now, though, it appears the ECS and CBD are very much involved in the maintenance of a properly functioning immune response.
Due to the complex nature of the immune system, there are many misconceptions when it comes to staying well as the weather changes. Let’s bust some of those myths before jumping into the best preventative measures you can take to keep sickness at bay.
Many of us have heard the phrase ‘put a coat on or you’ll catch a cold!’ Although we may associate sickness with colder weather, research suggests our increase in sickness during the winter months is most likely due to spending more time indoors (to avoid the cold) and spending more time in close contact with others who may pass a virus to us.
Having busted this common misconception, let’s dive into some effective, preventative measures to keep you healthy this winter.
Stress is the single most important factor you can manage to avoid weakening your immune system. Stress wears down our immune system rapidly, making us more likely to fall ill when we are exposed to germs.
It’s not uncommon to be stressed out during the holidays, it can be a stressful time! You can help mitigate this stress by meditating, indulging in regular exercise, and practicing mindfulness. There are many various ways to manage stress over the holidays, so whichever option works best based on you and your schedule is great! We’re not so concerned HOW you manage stress, we’re merely advocating for you to do so!
We look at 6 ways to support immune health & ask the question; Does CBD help? We look at the endocannabinoid system & ways to stay healthy this winter.
Our bodies repair themselves while we sleep – which is why it is so crucial to make sure we’re getting enough quality sleep. When we skip out on our regular amounts of sleep, the number of infection-fighting antibodies and cells in our bodies are reduced.
Supplementing with a CBD supplement before bed will help you relax and therefore get into a deeper sleep. There are several things you can do to ensure you get a better night’s rest, and it is in your immune system’s best interest to get quality sleep when you can. Read More on this topic
At SFE Academy & MadeByHemp, we always recommend using a supplement as just that – a supplement to an already healthy lifestyle! Things like sleeping well and managing stress, will always make a more significant impact than a supplement, but we listed a few supplements that can help boost your immunity nonetheless.
As we mentioned before, CBD can be a powerful tool to help maintain balance in your body. Including CBD into your daily routine will be all-around beneficial – and will especially aid in activating your ECS and keeping you balanced this winter.
Echinacea has been shown to increase the number of white blood cells, which helps to fight off colds or infection. Try an herbal echinacea spray or a bag of tea that contains dried echinacea.
Vitamins can help an infection from even happening in the first place. If you are eating a healthy, balanced diet, then you should not need to take a supplement – the vitamins are already in the food we eat! We know there are plenty of treats around this time of year and we are not suggesting you don’t indulge (because we sure do!), but that doesn’t mean you have to completely ditch your healthy lifestyle altogether. You can still eat healthy meals in between your holiday get-togethers, and squeeze in workouts when able.
Due to the decreased amount of sunshine, vitamin D is an important supplement to add to your regime. You can either purchase a high-quality vitamin D supplement or look for fortified milk and cereals.
Vitamin C is probably the most well-known immune booster. You can get your dose of vitamin C by eating citrus (like oranges, grapefruit, or lemon), bell peppers, kale, and broccoli.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that will help the body fight infection. You can get vitamin E from nuts (like sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, or hazelnuts), avocados, mango, and kiwi!
Zinc is a mineral that keeps the immune system strong and aids in healing. You can find zinc in legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products.
Prioritize eating a salad packed with vegetables, drinking a green juice, or even making your own vegetable broth before your next holiday get-together. Your immune system will thank you!
Making sure you stay hydrated aids your body in eliminating toxins and other unwanted bacteria. Soda, alcohol, and sugary drinks are not substitutes for water; if you need to, try herbal teas or add flavorings to your water to make sure you are getting enough.
As a guideline, to be properly hydrated, our bodies need ½ of our body weight in ounces per day to stay hydrated. If you weigh 150lbs then 75oz of water daily is what you need. We know drinking that much water isn’t always possible, but 35oz of water daily is better than zero. Do your best!
One of the easiest tips of all, but we had to mention it! Thoroughly wash your hands, especially before handling food or after being in an environment with a lot of germs (like a Christmas work party or family dinner).
These tips can help you avoid sickness this winter (or anytime in general). We want to show you how easy it is to integrate a wellness lifestyle into your already busy schedule. Wellness is a choice that everyone can make!
Stay well this holiday season from Made By Hemp!
To fully understand the power and importance of sleep to your health and wellbeing, we must first look at the how the body regulates this process. We can then start to understand why sleep is important and how you can get reap the benefit of sleep by adjusting certain behaviors and routines.
Our bodies have a natural 24hr cycle, we call this internal body clock the Circadian rhythm. The word circadian comes from the Latin word circa diem or about a day. The circadian rhythm is controlled by a structure in the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) these neurons serve to regulate and synchronize the circadian rhythms of the body’s tissues using cues from our environment such as light, eating, exercise and social cues. The 24hr circadian rhythm is important in the regulation of gene expression, thermoregulation, memory, learning, alertness and sleep/wake behaviors in each of us.
Our body’s have a natural internal 24hr body clock that regulates many physiological processes to maintain our health. This includes the sleep/wake cycle. We need to be mindful of any disruption to our body clock as it can mean thsat our health can be affected.
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted in the Pineal gland. Melatonin is an integral part of the circadian rhythm and modulates the sleep/wake cycle and also has an effect on thermoregulation of the body. Melatonin secretion is modulated by the external light levels. Typically, melatonin shows a higher concentration at night and peaks at around 3-4am.
The development of the 24hr society over the last few decades means that we are disturbing the natural melatonin – circadian rhythm axis. Different wavelengths of light have a different effect on the secretion Melatonin and the onset of the sleep/wake cycle as well as other molecular and gene expressive functions of our cells. Short wavelength visible light that is resent during the day has the effect of suppressing melatonin levels making us more alert. However, during the night, no light is present, leading to the higher concentrations of melatonin, leading to increased Delta and Alpha wave brain activity. Eventually leading to sleep.
The 24hr society and the abundance of artificial light, not to mention the differing shift patterns of some workers provides the conditions for disruption to the Circadian rhythm. Furthermore, research has suggested that our health maybe affected by this disruption, leading to increased risk of disease and mortality.
Artificial light used in our homes may have an effect on our body clock (Circadian Rhythm) potentially disrupting our normal sleep/wake cycle and leaving open the possibility of increased risk of affecting our mental and physical health.
Caffeine is a widely used psychoactive substance that is present in a lot of foods and drinks that we consume. People tend to use caffeine for different reasons; to enhance cognitive performance (say on an exam) to stay awake and prevent sleepiness, taste, enjoyment and many other reasons.
On the other hand, caffeine could also be impairing our ability to get a good night’s sleep that leaves us feeling refreshed and energised. Research suggests that caffeine can reduce the time to fall off to sleep, the duration and the quality of the sleep itself.
Your tolerance and reaction to caffeine vary from person to person. With some people being very sensitive and other not. The pharmacodynamics of Caffeine mean that in conjunction with exposure to artificial light during the night can have a profound effect on the Circadian rhythm, bodily processes and the sleep/wake cycle.
In order to minimise the impact on your quality of sleep and your overall health you could adopt the following new habits to replace the old ones.
Recognise you’re consuming too much caffeine – This includes some foods that are high in caffeine
Switch to Decaf – Switching to decaf is a good way to reduce your caffeine intake without sacrificing taste.
Cut back gradually – Caffeine withdrawal syndrome can cause symptoms such as; headache, fatigue, decreased energy/activeness, decreased alertness, drowsiness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating and focusing on tasks, feeling irritable and not feeling clear minded.
Caffeine is powerful stimulant that promotes wakefulness and disrupts the natural circadian rhythm if taken in high enough quantities. Also, high caffeine intake can reduce the time to fall to sleep and the quality of the sleep itself. Reducing your caffeine intake can help with the quality and duration of sleep.
Core body temperature and the temperature of your surrounding environment plays a part in your ability to fall asleep. Recent research has suggested that the reduced blood to the extremities has a detrimental effect on your ability to fall asleep. Heat loss at the extremities has been suggested to be a benefit to inducing sleep and preventing insomnia.
Have you felt sleepy after a long hot bath? If like most of us the answer is yes, this is because blood has been shunted to the skin and your extremities trying to dissipate the heat. This triggers a physiological cascade that results in sleepiness. Therefore, one of the ways in which you could initiate the sleep cycle is to wear a hat, socks and gloves if your feet and hands are particularly cold.
Core and peripheral body temperature plays a role in inducing sleepiness. Constriction of blood vessels at the end of your limbs plays a part in preventing sleep. If your hands and feet are cold, wearing socks or gloves may help to dilate the blood vessels leading to increased blood flow and helping you fall off to sleep.
The research around the impact of physical activity and exercise on sleep quality generally shows that being active and getting recommended 30mins moderate to vigorous activity per day helps to boost the quality of sleep.
There is a complex interaction between exercise and how it positively affects sleep quality and duration. Exercise may induce physiological changes in the body that allow the body to enter into the sleep cycle easier and may have benefits on your ability to have better quality sleep at each stage of the sleep cycle.
There is evidence that suggests that sleep deprivation and poor-quality sleep impair not only your cognitive function but your ability to perform exercise and your body’s ability to repair damaged tissues. There is inclusive evidence of the exercise dose relationship between intensity and type of exercise that illicit sleep improvements.
Being active through the day and having a healthy exercise routine (minimum of 30mins/day moderate to vigorous intensity.) will help you to fall asleep faster and improve the quality of sleep.
Anxiety is sometimes a debilitating disorder that can leave people unable to function or go about their daily lives.
The main ‘stress’ hormone that mediates our stress responses is cortisol. It has wide ranging physiological functions in the body to prepare us for a perceived danger. However, prolonged release of cortisol can result in negative psychosomatic effects such as sleep deprivation, depression, weight gain and cardiometabolic dysfunction. This has the effect of disturbing your circadian rhythm and preventing good quality sleep and can lead to insomnia itself.
If you find it hard to fall asleep at night because your mind is racing with all of the things you need to finish tomorrow, take a minute to jot all of your thoughts down. Having a place to keep all of these thoughts is helpful because you won’t have to stress or worry about forgetting something – all of those thoughts will be waiting for you in the morning!
Use techniques that will help you to unwind before bed. This can include; writing down your fears, reading, steering clear of stressful activities, having a bath, breathing techniques and meditation.
Chamomile has been known for its tranquilsing effects for some time. Research has suggested that Chamomile can help you achieve a better quality of sleep compared to a placebo.
Prescribed and even some over the counter medication has been attributed to all sorts of health risks associated with both acute and chronic usage. Research suggests that although the supplements and prescribed medication may help you get off to sleep ok, they may not help you when it comes to the quality of sleep you have. This could indicate that you are not moving through the different stages of sleep as you should or not spending enough time in them. Therefore, the underlying causes of your sleep disturbance needs to be found out in order for you to be able to start to address that problems you are having with sleep.
It is always best that you learn what the root cause of your sleeping issues are. There may be a need for supplements but you should always need to seek medical advise and guidance before you do so. Ask you self ‘why’ you are feeling bad when you wake up and why you cannot fall off to sleep. Start from there before heading down the supplement route.
Waking up at a similar time will help strengthen your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Our bodies are designed to rise with the sun and sleep when it goes down – and sleeping in on weekends can throw this rhythm off.
The same goes for falling asleep at a similar time. You will find falling asleep will get easier as your body gets used to its new routine.
Try to sync your daily routines with your own body clock. When you feel sleepy, take that as a big hint that your body is telling you that now is the time to sleep. Many native tribes around the world sync their sleep and wake cycles with daylight and nighttime cycle. As soon as dusk set in, the tribe sleep. As soon as daylight starts to appear, the tribes are awake. Although this is an ideal situation. Many of us are not fortunate enough to follow this pattern. You could takes steps to limit social media use in the nighttime and ensure that the lights are off or dimmed.
Get into a good routine
Try to use curtains or blinds that block out light as much as possible. especially if you live in an urban area like a city or town where there is a lot of light pollution.
Get a light that you can set to switch on at dawn, this mimics the light from the sun that triggers your wakefulness.
Some people are very sensitive to noise during the night. Whilst others would sleep through a thermonuclear detonation next to their head! If you are the former, then make sure you minimise the noise pollution as much as you possibly can
Reduce the external distractions that may affect your sleep pattern. Write down all of the issues that you know distract you from having a good sleep, and systematically go through each of them on your list one by one.