Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give the gift of good health this holiday season? While you can’t wrap wellness in a pretty package, you can surprise someone you care about with a thoughtful gift that helps them to care for their health. With immunity top of mind for many right now, why not give something that provides a little extra support? From devices that keep fitness activity on track to stress-busters that encourage relaxation and holistic health, the gifts on this list truly keep on giving!
Immune Health Gift Guide
Gym membership or classes
It’s well known that exercise is important for immune health. If you have a friend or family member who has been talking about getting active in the new year, consider gifting them a gym membership. Or, check with local fitness centers, dance studios or yoga studios to see if they have gift certificates for a class or a series of classes. Not only will this gift help get your loved one moving and support physical health, it will provide stress relief and promote mental and emotional wellbeing.
There’s no shortage of activity trackers to choose from today—the Fitbit, Jawbone and Misfit are all fan favorites. This gift helps make it easy for your loved ones to hold themselves accountable for their health and fitness goals for years to come. A tracker also can support them in developing healthy routines, learning how to stay active and eating a balanced diet.
Essential oil diffuser
Essential oils are an ideal way to reduce and manage stress. These oils – which are highly concentrated, aromatic volatile substances that originate from plants and contain an array of chemical constituents – are thought to offer a number of benefits, including promoting relaxation. Aromatherapy is a fascinating field of integrative medicine that utilizes essentials oils to prevent and alleviate symptoms when diffused, or used topically or orally.
Massage or spa treatment
Most people won’t spend money on a massage for themselves, which makes it a perfect holiday gift. Along with being relaxing and enjoyable, research suggests that regular massage also stimulates the body’s immune response.
Massage and other spa treatments help the body relax, which is essential when you realize that high stress levels can decrease immune health. The same normal and natural stress hormones—like cortisol—that allow us to deal with acute stressful events and can also lower immune function when maintained at high levels over time. People with high levels of stress hormones over a long period tend to be more susceptible to poor health outcomes.
Supplements that support immune health also are a great, practical gift this holiday season. Integrative practitioners recommend the following supplements for immune health.
Vitamin D has been shown to promote the immune-supportive effects of white blood cells and help to maintain normal inflammation pathways.
While natural sunlight is a good way to naturally support your body’s production of vitamin D, it can be challenging to get enough sun exposure in some parts of the world. It’s a good idea to spend some time outdoors every day (using sunscreen, of course). Most integrative practitioners also recommend regularly testing vitamin D levels and supplementing with a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement. † Deficiency is common due to inadequate sun exposure and lack of vitamin D-rich foods in most people’s diets.
Vitamin D comes in two primary forms: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. When it comes to supplementation, D3 is the form that is biologically active and most easily absorbed and assimilated by the body. † Food sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, beef liver, eggs and sardines.
Zinc is an essential mineral for healthy immune cell development and signaling, and it also protects tissue barriers in the body and helps to keep the immune system healthy. Zinc must be obtained through foods or supplements. Note that a deficiency can lower the body’s entire immune response. †
Oysters, red meat, poultry and whole grains are excellent food sources of this immune-strengthening mineral.
Perhaps the best-known immune-supporting nutrient, vitamin C is essential for a robust immune response. This vitamin supports the healthy production of white blood cells called phagocytes and lymphocytes, which help to protect the body. Vitamin C , which acts as an antioxidant and supports the skin’s natural barriers, also plays a part in healthy skin. †
Elderberry extract is derived from a flowering plant belonging to the adoxaceae family. The berries can be eaten (they must be cooked!). They’re also commonly consumed in supplement form (as liquids, lozenges or capsules) for immune support. †
Science shows that elderberry helps to support upper respiratory tract health. Liposomal elderberry, in particular, is easily absorbed and an ideal form for consuming this nutrient for immune support. †
Of the B complex vitamins, B12 and B6 are especially important for a healthy immune response. Inadequate levels of B6 and B12 are common in older adults and those following a vegan diet, so speak with your healthcare provider if you suspect you might be lacking in these vital nutrients. B vitamins also are also essential for nervous system, cardiovascular and mood support. †
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.