We all know how it goes in winter…The temperature drops and every day seems to be shorter than the last.
With darker afternoon and colder weather, finding the motivation to stay healthy and fit can be difficult.
It’s easy to get in the habit of staying inside and binge-watching on Netflix because it’s comfortable and “too cold” to do anything else. You’re also more likely to feel the winter blues because you’re not out getting sunlight and or activity outside. And to top it all off, ’tis the season for the flu.
We know winter can be harsh, so we decided to put together our best health and wellness tips for winter to help you beat the blues and reduce the odds of catching those nasty bugs.
Use these winter health tips for a very merry season!
It’s commonly believed that you only need to drink water when its hot outside or when you’re engaged in activities that make you sweat. But, hydration is essential at any time of the year, especially during winter, when dry air takes away from the moisture in your body. Hydration has a significant effect on how your body functions. It’s essential not only for cognitive health but also for helping to regulate digestion. Start each day with a large glass of water, and don’t forget to carry a bottle with you wherever you go. It’s recommended to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day to stay properly hydrated. If you feel its too cold for water, herbal tea counts as water as well!
Calm your carb cravings
Ever wonder why the colder seasons tend to ignite our cravings for more carbs and comfort foods? After you consume these delicious foods, your serotonin levels rise, making your brain think that you are happier. And as the day wears on, your carb cravings get stronger and stronger as your brain wants to experience that surge in serotonin.
To counter this, try eating a protein-packed breakfast to keep your energy levels up throughout the day and be sure to have healthy snacks on hand.
Make sure to get your healthy fats
Our body’s ideal fuel source is good, healthy fats. In the winter months, our bodies naturally prefer to hibernate as the days are shorter, and we’re moving slower. Because of this, it’s a good idea to pull back on excess carbohydrate consumption and fill your diet with nutrient-dense healthy fats instead. Healthy fats give you energy but won’t spike your insulin (the “fat-storing” hormone) as excess carbohydrates do. Also, Omega 3 fatty acids are great for reducing joint pain and stiffness as they are a natural anti-inflammatory. Studies have also shown that omega-3 fatty acids help lower levels of depression, which people commonly feel during the shorter days of winter.
Regular exercise can contribute to good health as well as a healthy immune system. Don’t worry if you have no desire to head outdoors for your workout. There are plenty of resources online that offer a variety of workouts, including yoga, strength training, aerobics, and other body-weight exercises. Exercising can help increase your energy levels and fight off those winter blues.
Make sure you get adequate sleep
Getting the right amount of good quality sleep is one of the easiest things you can do to help keep your immune system going strong. Research shows that sleep not only helps support the body’s immune system, but lack of sleep also may negatively impact the immune system. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Take the right supplements
Multivitamins help fill in the nutritional gaps in your diet so you can stay healthier. While a good multivitamin may not prevent colds, it can help support the immune system and encourage your body to heal faster. Also, Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports the body’s immune system. Also, taking a high-quality Vitamin D (which we tend to lack during the winter months), and Omega 3/DHA can help with winter blues.
Cook with spices
Onions, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and cilantro are perfect for adding flavor to your dishes. Not only do they make food taste great, but they’re also shown to help improve immune function. Turmeric is a spice traditionally used in Chinese and Indian medicine. Its main active ingredient is curcumin, which has been shown to help combat several conditions, including inflammation and heart disease, and it acts as a powerful antioxidant.
Eat fermented foods
There are many benefits to eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, apple cider vinegar, etc. Not only can fermented foods improve our digestion, but they also boost our immunity. It’s estimated that 80-85% of the immune system lies in the gut. Eating fermented foods can improve your beneficial gut flora, allowing your immune system to work more effectively.
When choosing fermented foods, be sure to purchase unpasteurized products that haven’t been heated as heat destroys much of the beneficial bacteria. An even better way to ensure that you stay healthy this winter is to make your own fermented foods.
At the First Sign of Illness, Take Echinacea and Elderberries
Echinacea stimulates the immune system to get rid of pathogens. Echinacea also helps the body to fight off infection and may be one of the most well-known home remedies for cold and flu. Unfortunately, it is often misunderstood and taken improperly. Echinacea should not be taken daily to “prevent” a cold or flu. It works best when taken at the onset of symptoms and continuing only while you have symptoms.
Elderberries are renowned for their ability to prevent upper respiratory infections, as well as to shorten the duration of a cold or flu. They are made into a syrup that is loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants. In addition to being good for you, elderberry also tastes delicious. You can purchase ready-made Elderberry syrup, or you can make your own at home.
Wash your hands
Frequent handwashing throughout the day is an absolute must in staying healthy in the winter. It not only helps protect your immune system and prevent you from developing the flu and cold, but it protects others around you.
Many of these tips are easy to implement in your daily life if you add them in slowly. Assessing your health and well-being during the winter will help you to find your own areas for improvement. Recognizing patterns of illness or low energy ahead of time is key to preventing them — or at least to dealing with them as they arise. Hopefully, these health and wellness tips for winter ensure you have many ways to stay healthy, fit, and safe this holiday season and beyond.