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4 Festive Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Boost your immune system with these holiday-themed cures.

Wouldn’t it be great to sail through the holidays without a sniffle or cough from a cold, flu or, worse, coronavirus? Good news! The following easy tweaks to holiday fun will supercharge your immune system so you’re sure to stay happy and healthy all season long.

Decking the halls? Go evergreen.

The fresh scent of pine boughs and pretty wreaths can boost immune cell activity by 36 percent. So say researchers at Nippo Medical School in Tokyo, who found the benefit in folks who spent time in pine-scented rooms for three days. Credit goes to aromatic compounds found in evergreens, such as pinene and limonene, which ease stress and its immunity-sapping impact.

Wrapping gifts? Fa-la-la along.

Singing along to “Here Comes Santa Claus” not only makes holiday errands more pleasant, German scientists report that the breathing patterns you use when you lift your voice in song also lift your body’s production of a virus-fighting antibody called IgA by 44 percent. Even better, they found the boost occurred in amateur singers, so you don’t have to be Trisha Yearwood to get the benefits.

Cuing up a classic? Watch it with others.

Holiday movies like Elf are sure to make you giggle, but research shows you’re 30 times more likely to laugh out loud if you view them with family or organize a watch party with friends. That’s key since Western Kentucky University investigators reveal that mirthful laughter enhances activity of NK cells (immune cells that attack and destroy viruses) by 120 percent.

Enjoying a nightcap? Try this tart-sweet sip.

Pomegranate juice brims with polyphenol compounds that stop the ability of the influenza virus to multiply by 90 percent, according to University of Texas researchers. And William Li, M.D., author of Eat to Beat Disease, adds that pomegranate compounds stimulate the growth of immunity-boosting gut bacteria. In a UCLA study, sipping one cup daily upped participants’ “good bugs” by 71 percent.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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