We all know how it goes…
It’s cold outside, its darker earlier…
With shorter days and colder weather, finding the motivation to stay healthy and fit can be difficult.
Its so easy to get in the habit of staying inside and binge watching on Netflix because its just “too cold” to do anything else. You’re also more likely to feel the winter blues because you’re not out getting sunlight and activity. And on top of that, tis the season for sickness.
So, we decided to put together a guide for beating the winter blues and reducing the odds of catching the crud.
Here’s to a very merry winter season!
Many people think that you only need to drink water when its hot outside or when you’re sweating. But, hydration is essential any time of the year, especially during winter when dry air tends to zap away moisture. Hydration has a huge effect on how your body functions as it’s important not only for cognitive health but also for helping to regulate digestion. Start each day with a large glass of water and carry a bottle with you wherever you go. If you feel its too cold for water, herbal tea counts as water as well.
Calm your carb cravings
The cold season tends to ignite our cravings for more carbs and comfort foods. Why? After you consume these delicious treats, your serotonin levels rise, making your brain think you are happier. And as the day wears on, your carb cravings get stronger and stronger.
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 fats (the good kind). In the cold, winter months our bodies naturally prefer to hibernate. 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 plenty of nutrient-dense healthy fats instead. Healthy fats give you energy but won’t spike your insulin (the “fat-storing” hormone) like excess carbohydrates do. In addition, 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. If you have no desire to head outdoors for your workout, then never fear. There are plenty of resources online that offer a variety of workouts including yoga, strength training, aerobics and other body-weight exercises.
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. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Take the right supplements
Multivitamins help fill in the nutritional gaps in your diet so you can stay just a little bit healthier. While a good multivitamin may not prevent colds, it can help support the immune system and encourage your body to heal faster. In addition, 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 the 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. Also, turmeric is a spice traditionally used in Chinese and Indian medicine. Its main active ingredient is called curcumin which has been shown to help combat a number of 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 is 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 have not been heated or make your own as heat destroys much of the beneficial bacteria.
At the First Sign of Illness, Take Echinacea and/or Elderberries
Echinacea stimulates the immune system to get rid of pathogens. Echinacea also helps the body to fight off infection. It may be one of the most well-known home remedies for cold and flu. Unfortunately, it is often misunderstood and taken improperly. It 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. You can purchase ready-made Elderberry syrup or you can make your own.
Wash your hands
Frequent handwashing throughout the day is an absolute must in maintaining your health during 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. And, assessing your own 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 theses winter wellness tips ensure you have lots of ways to stay healthy, fit and safe this holiday season and beyond.