How To Keep Healthy In Winter?

15 Jul How To Keep Healthy In Winter?

As the warm summer beach weather gives way to the cold, wet and dreary winter days ahead you can take the opportunity to prepare your body to be healthy and boost your immunity throughout winter by eating a full range of fresh foods including green leafy vegetables, tubular vegetables and good portions of hearty red meats.

And as winter arrives so too does the unwelcome bacteria and viruses that commonly leave us feeling drained, under-the-weather, stuffy, snuffly and miserable. You can stay a step ahead of the germs and  give your body’s immune response system a supercharge by taking quality vitamins and supplements such as Echinacea, garlic, vitamin C , Zinc, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamins B6 and B12.

Winter is often given a bad rap as it brings with it the cold & flu season and those cold, dark mornings. However, with a little bit of effort, there is no reason for our health to head south for the winter months! We can do a number of things to help keep ourselves and our family just as healthy, happy and active during winter as we are during summer.

#1. Immune System Boosters

While it’s important to take care of our health throughout the whole year it is especially important during the winter months. Eating properly, getting plenty of sleep and staying physically active are all important during winter to help keep you and your family healthy and to support your immune system, which tends to take a battering at this time of year.

But there is an answer. You don’t have to do it alone. You can supplement your diet with products containing herbs and nutrients such as Echinacea, garlic, vitamin C, and zinc to support healthy immune function.

Also important is to get plenty of fresh meats and green leafy vegetables which give you important minerals including vitamin D, B6 and vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is especially important as it helps your body’s blood, tissue and nervous system. While it would be easy if we could get all of our vitamins from our food sometimes this is not possible.

Supplementing your diet is often the only way you can manage to get enough of this important nutrient, as very often, due to intensive agriculture and long trips to the market for fresh food, vitamin B12 is just not as bio-actively available as in times gone by.

#2. Keep Physically Active

Though it can be difficult to muster the motivation, remember that keeping active during winter is essential to support our physical health and wellbeing. Moving your exercise indoors during winter will help to keep you warm as well as fit and healthy. You could join a gym or create your own activities and routine at home.

Make sure, though, that you spend some time warming up before you start your exercise. In the winter cold, it can take a little longer for your joints to loosen up.

#3. Ensure You Eat Properly

It is very tempting, as winter comes around, to head for the comfort foods which typically are high in sugar, fats and salt. However, you could instead find comfort in hearty foods such as warming and nourishing soups and stews; full of flavour and healthy vegetables, ensuring your body gets all it needs to function properly in these chilly, rain-sodden months.

Try and make sure your diet includes winter fruit and vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals such as sweet potato, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, kiwi fruit, mandarins, bananas, apples, rhubarb, garlic, pears, and ginger.

To make sure you are getting your essential B vitamins such as B6, B12 and iron, try and grab fresh seafood, red meat and poultry over these winter months. Fresh seafood and red meat are especially rich in this essential nutrient, which if diminished can leave us feeling tired, jaded and run-down.

#4. Keep Your Weight Under Control

As cold-snaps keep you from jogging your favourite footpaths, and you reach for the pies and sausage rolls, it is very hard to avoid the tell-tale signs of weight gain. While we may blame the dryer for shrinking our pants, in truth it probably has a lot more to do with what is in our pantry and refrigerator.

Quiche, pastries, caramel choc slice, and chips and gravy are great going down at this time of year. But time waits for no one; and nor does summer. The extra timber we stack-on in winter must come off our frames if we are to fit into that little black dress or mankini for the men who dare out there.

It is far better to avoid the danger foods rather than have to endure drill-sergeant personal trainers who seemingly take delight in punishing you harder to get you back in shape for a summer beach body.

#5. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Proper sleep is an absolute essential throughout winter as it can help keep the body’s immune system healthy and fight off colds. For adults, this means a full 8 hours of pillow-time. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes as these substances can affect the quality of your sleep. Regular, moderate exercise, relaxation techniques and sticking to a regular sleep routine can help improve sleep.

#6. Keeping bugs at bay

Winter is often the worst time of year for maintaining consistent good health as it is not always possible to avoid catching a cold or flu. The viruses that cause colds are spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact. Good sanitation is a priority at any time. Make sure you regularly wash your hands to keep bugs off your skin.

It is also important to keep household surfaces such as benchtops and sinks clean. Kids’ toys can also be a hotspot for colds and germs, so make sure your children also wash their hands regularly. If you do get sick, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, including water, hot tea and soup. Try and avoid alcohol and caffeine, and get plenty of rest and sleep. Supplements such as vitamin C, zinc, Echinacea, and vitamin b6 and b12 may help relieve the symptoms and reduce the length of a cold.

#7. Stress and Mood

While stress is just a part of life we face every day, and some stress helps us to meet challenging situations, too much stress may be linked to negative effects across a range of health areas.

For example, stress can lower the resistance to bugs by depressing the immune system and keeping it from performing at its peak. Stress also increases your need for dietary magnesium which is an important nutrient for muscle and nerve function.

All of the B vitamin group of nutrients, for example, B1, B5, B6 and B12 are also needed for a healthy functioning nervous system. You can often find these in executive stress formulas, along with valerian and the herb St. John’s Wort. Before you take this, however, it is a good idea to see your doctor as interactions with some medicines can occur.

#8. Good Circulation

During winter the extremities of our body can tend to become cold and achy, as our heart conserves blood around our major organs. Besides keeping active and wearing warm clothes such as jumpers, long pants and socks, Vitamin E and the herb Ginkgo can help to support peripheral blood circulation.

#9. Keep hydrated

With the weather cooling down our thirst tends to decrease and it is all too easy to forget to drink enough water. Even though your body is not under the kind of heat stress that summer brings with it, you still need to aim to drink about two litres per day of water. It is essential for our body to function. If you do struggle to drink plain water try herbal tea for something different. There are so many to choose from, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.

#10. Fighting Fit with Fiber

For the best health, it is vital to eat a well-balanced diet that is high in fibre, including all the major food groups.

It is vital to include both soluble and insoluble fibre daily. Soluble fibre is found in foods such as apples, oat bran and legumes (such as chickpeas, lentils and peas). You can also find insoluble fibre in whole grains, broccoli, nuts, seeds and vegetable skins.

Including fibre in your diet will offer benefits beyond your bowel. Fibre is important in helping to prevent serious health conditions and common digestive complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The best way to boost your fibre intake is to eat foods in their natural state. Foods rich in fibre include fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Although, if you are struggling to reach the recommended daily amount of fibre, 25-30g, you may wish to boost your intake with a fibre supplement made from psyllium husk.

#11. Take a Walk in the Sun…when it is out!

It is estimated between 35-45% of Australian adults are deficient in vitamin D. This figure may even be too low as the threshold is thought by many practitioners to be high, not capturing the vast majority of people experiencing symptoms, but who do not register on a test. However, the easiest way to increase vitamin D levels is by going for a walk outdoors and enjoying good, fun, yet sensible sun exposure. The best thing is it is totally free!

Following these 11 tips should help to make your winter a memorable one…for all of the right reasons!!

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