KEEPING HEALTHY IN WINTERS
It may be cold outside, but it does not mean that winter will be the unhealthiest time of year for you and your family.
While many people will be ecstatic while saying goodbye to a long, hot and sultry summer and welcoming the new season, on the other hand, many of us will be dreading the cold weather arriving. Winter is often dreaded as it brings with it the cold and flu season and those cold and dark mornings. However, with a little effort, there will be no reason for our health to suffer during those cold months! Following are the things that can help us remain healthy, happy and active during winter like we are during summers.
It is essential to take care of our health throughout the year but during the winters it becomes even more important. Eating well, staying active and getting enough sleep are all important during winters to help keep you and your family healthy and to boost your immune systems. Supplements containing nutrients and herbs like zinc, vitamin C, Echinacea, and garlic help to support healthy functioning of the immune system.
While it is a little harder to find the motivation to exercise and stay active when it is cold outside, but remember that keeping active during winter is important for our health and wellbeing. Moving your exercise schedule indoors during winter will help to keep you warm, fit and healthy. Do not forget to warm up before you start your exercise as it can take a little longer for your joints to loosen up in the winters.
As winter sets in, it gets very tempting to start eating more of those warm and comfort foods that are usually high in fat, salt, and sugar. Instead of indulging in those foods, try to find comfort in foods that are healthy such as warming and nourishing soups, healthy vegetables and stews full of flavor. Make sure that your diet includes winter fruits and vegetables which are packed with vitamins and minerals such as beetroot, sweet potato, kiwi fruit, green leafy vegetables, mandarins, bananas, garlic, and ginger.
Ditching the exercise along with salads during winter can often lead to weight gain. While it can only be a slight weight gain, it begins to add up as more and more winters pass by! Although it is very tempting to hide behind those bulky winter clothes and eat fried and tasty unhealthy food, by sticking to your healthy diet and exercise routine throughout the year, you will be healthier in the long run and will not abhor the next swimming season with your kids!
Proper sleep (eight hours for an adult) can help to keep the body’s immune system healthy and to fight off the colds. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes as these substances can affect the quality of your sleep. Regular, moderate exercise, yoga, relaxation techniques like meditation and establishing a regular sleep routine can help to promote improved quality of sleep.
The cold weather can affect your skin and lead to conditions such as dry, itchy skin and eczema. This may be due to lack of moisture or reduced blood circulation and nutrients to the skin. Using moisturizers daily will help to keep the skin moist whilst supplements containing vitamin E or garlic help in assisting blood circulation. If any of your family suffers from psoriasis or eczema, try taking fish oils. They provide omega-3 which can help in managing those itchy skin conditions. And do not forget the sunscreen. It is important to remember that you can still get sunburnt even when the weather is cold!
KEEPING BUGS AT BAY
Although we can do a lot of things in order to support our health and immunity during winters, it is not always possible to prevent catching a cold or flu. The viruses which cause colds are spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact. Wash or sanitize your hands regularly and avoid keeping close contact with someone who has a cold. Keep the surfaces of your household clean as well as toys for the children when someone in the family has a cold. If you are unwell, make sure to drink plenty of fluids, including hot tea, water, and soup. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Try to get plenty of sleep. Supplements such as zinc, vitamin C and echinacea help to relieve the symptoms and reduce the duration of the cold.
STRESS AND HEALTHY MOOD
While stress is a part of everyday life, and some stress helps us to achieve goals and overcome challenging situations, an excessive amount of stress leads to negative effects across a wide range of areas. Stress can lower the resistance to nasty bugs by reducing the strength of the immune system. Importantly, stress increases your body’s requirement for dietary magnesium which is important for nerve and muscle function. Many B vitamins like B1, B5, B6, and B12 are also needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system. The herb named St John’s Wort helps to relieve nervousness, irritability and help maintain your emotional balance. Make sure to consult your doctor before starting these supplements, though.
During winter our hands and feet often get cold. They are at the extreme ends of our bodies which implies they are the furthest from the heart which pumps blood around the body to help keep us warm. Vitamin E and the herb called Ginkgo help in supporting peripheral blood circulation, thereby alleviating the coldness hands and feet. Keep moving along with gentle exercise to improve circulation to the extreme ends of the body and do not forget your socks and gloves!
Do not forget to keep drinking water! As the weather cools down and our thirst alleviates, it is often easy to forget to drink enough water. You still need to aim to drink about two litres of water every day during winter as it is essential for our body’s functioning. If you struggle with plain water sometimes (like we all do) try herbal tea or green tea. There are so many flavors available now that you will surely find something you enjoy.
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