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How you can survive the holiday season

The other person who lives at our house keeps giving me things to read about how to survive the holiday season.

Almost always it has to do with eating. Or drinking. You know, things you should not eat or drink if you don’t want to become a holiday statistic, and warning you for God’s sake not to ruin everybody else’s holiday by making them have to go to a funeral because you couldn’t go a few days without stuffing your pie hole with lethal amounts of sugar-filled desserts, greasy latkes, gravy-drenched carbohydrates and, of course, liquor. Sweet, delicious, tangy liquor — the only food-like substance that truly understands me.

Not unlike Sarah Palin, who could see Russia from her house, I can see the holidays from here.

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving. Then — badda-bing, badda-boom — Hannukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s will all go flying by at the speed of light.

The pack of wild PR people who are always lurking around outside my office have sent me a press release that addresses this very point.

“Why are the holidays so hazardous to our health?” shrieked a bold headline on one recent missive. “Physician shares tips for giving your body what it needs to fight illness,” said a smaller, secondary heading.

Turns out Dr. John Young specializes in the treatment of chronic illness, and he even wrote a book about it, called “Beyond Treatment: Discover How to Build a Cellular Foundation to Achieve Optimal Health.”

I know, sounds like a real page-turner, huh? Probably not likely to be made into a movie anytime soon. Still, the good doctor seems only to want to help us survive the holidays.

During this time period, according to the doc, “there’s a spike in heart attacks and other cardiac issues. The incidence of pneumonia cases spikes — in both cold and warm climates. And death from natural causes spikes.

“In fact,” he insists, “more people die of natural causes on Christmas Day than any other day of the year!”

Yikes! And why is this, you ask? Good question.

“Stress plays a role, particularly if your immune system is weakened,” says Dr. Young. “If you look at how most of us eat from Halloween through New Year’s, it’s easy to see how the immune system takes a beating and otherwise healthy people become more susceptible to illness during the holidays.”

What’s this guy been doing? Peeking in our windows? How did HE know I ate all those Butterfingers by myself on-accounta-how we only had two bunches of trick-or-treaters and they only wanted Snickers?

Scientifically, says Dr. Young, it’s quite simple how we do ourselves in.

“We eat a lot more refined sugar, for instance, which is a carbohydrate that’s been stripped of all the vitamins, minerals and proteins that make up a complete carbohydrate. Our bodies can’t use that, so the cells in our digestive organs work overtime, burning up a lot of energy, vitamins and minerals to digest it, and they get nothing back. So, eventually, they grow weak.”

Hmm. Good to know.

So, ix-nay on the sugar, doc? Not necessarily, he says.

“The occasional slice of pumpkin pie is fine as long as you’re also feeding your cells the nutrients they need — the minerals, vitamins, good quality protein, amino acids, essential fatty acids — to stay healthy.”

He has other tips (you knew there would be tips, didn’t you?):

GET YOUR VITAMIN D: Here’s some interesting trivia for you — it’s a hormone, not a vitamin, and one of the best sources for it is sunshine. Many of us (especially in the Pacific Northwest, “The Nation’s Dungeon”) are vitamin D deficient.

EAT YOUR PROTEIN: One gram for every 2.2 pounds of body weight daily. I know, we were told there would be no math, but you should have learned by now that was just a big fat lie.

GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP, EXERCISE AND MANAGE YOUR STRESS: How cliché, right? But you know what they say about cliches: They exist because they’re true.

Because I cut out a lot of important details from Dr. Young’s points (mostly to add my own space-wasting witticisms), you can learn more by visiting YoungHealth.com.

Meanwhile, see you in January. If we both live that long.

Former managing editor of several community newspapers, including the Woodburn Independent, Lake Oswego Review and the Times papers, Kelly is chief of the central design desk for Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune, and he contributes a regular column.

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