Dr. Tenzin Lhundup 10-11-2016 Consult
Cold Air, Chilly Breeze, Hot Fluids, Warm Blankets, Santa Claus- You know what I'm talking about, don't you? Winter is Coming! Are you ready for cold and flu season? If you want to avoid being sick and feeling like you have to go to the doctor to get antibiotics and other drugs, now is the time to be thinking about prevention!
To that end, here's some great tips to strengthen your body's immune system during the winter season:
Drink the optimal amount of water
With the winter season here, it's more important than ever to consume the right amount of water for your health. As the temperature outside gradually drops, we find ourselves near a heater or air conditioner, covered in layers of clothing. The artificial hot environment we create can cause dehydration in our body and skin. Drinking eight glasses of water a day helps our body maintain its fluid balance and even helps us keep our skin rejuvenated.
While it's a little harder to find the motivation to exercise when it is cold outside, remember that keeping active during winter is essential to support our health and wellbeing. Moving your exercise indoors during winter will help to keep you warm as well as fit and healthy. Be sure to spend time warming up before you start your exercise as it can take a little longer for your joints to loosen up in the cold weather.
As winter sets in it can be tempting to start eating more of those warm comfort foods that are often high in fat, salt and sugar. Instead, find comfort in foods such as warming and nourishing soups and stews full of flavor and healthy vegetables. Be sure your diet includes winter fruits and vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals such as sweet potato, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, kiwi fruit, mandarins, bananas, garlic and ginger.
Proper sleep (eight hours for an adult) can help keep the body's immune system healthy and fight off colds. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes as these substances can affect the quality of your sleep. Regular, moderate exercise, relaxation techniques and establishing a regular sleep routine may help to promote improved sleep.
Keep stress to a minimum
Studies have linked high stress levels to making a person more susceptible to catching colds and flu. Minimize your stress by working reasonable hours at your job. Aim for at least one night per week to spend with friends and family. If your stress is out of hand and you feel like you need some help, consult a Specialist.
During winter our hands and feet can often feel cold. Our hands and feet are at the extremities of our bodies which means they are the furthest from the heart which is pumping blood around our body to help keep us warm. Vitamin E and the herb Ginkgo help to support peripheral blood circulation, thereby alleviating cold hands and feet. Keep moving with gentle exercise to help improve circulation to the extremities of the body and don't forget your socks and gloves! If you can't seem to keep your hands warm (and it's not bothering you excessively) take solace in the old saying "Cold hands, warm heart!"
The cold weather can affect our skin and contribute to conditions such as dry, itchy skin, chill blains and eczema. This may be due to the reduced humidity, drinking less water than you would during summer or possibly due to reduced circulation which may decrease the flow of blood and nutrients to the skin. Using moisturizers daily may help to keep the skin moist and supple whilst supplements containing vitamin E or garlic help assist blood circulation. If any of your family suffers psoriasis or eczema, try taking fish oils. These provide omega-3 which can help manage these itchy skin conditions. And don't forget the sunscreen, it is important to remember we can still get sunburns when the weather is cold!
Above all, be ready to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.
No one can stop the onset of winter. However, if you follow these suggestions, you will be ready for it when it comes!