Winter Wellness: Staying healthy
The shortest day of the year may have already passed, but winter is still hanging around. Winter wellness and staying healthy can be tricky as the colder months drag on. I can show you that staying well this winter is easy – you don’t have to suffer with being struck down with colds and coughs.
Eat seasonally and eat well
I’m always harping on about food and eating well, the reason is because it is so important to our overall well being. Eating foods that are fresh, bright, colourful and full of essential nutrients is important any time of year, but ensuring that you’re getting plenty of vitamin C and zinc from your food in winter can boost your immune system. Include warming foods such as ginger and chili also garlic, onions and lots of spices.
Keep your body warm
Winter often means that those dark 6am boot camp sessions get forgotten, but keep up with the exercise and help your body stay warm. Exercise is important to help activate your lymphatic system and it really gets your blood pumping around your body. Opt for inside gym classes, yoga or pilates if you can’t face the outdoors.
Keeping your water intake up during the colder months is just as important as in summer. Our body’s mucous membranes need hydration all year round. Steer clear of sodas as sugar is the enemy of your immune system. If plain H2O doesn’t tickle your taste buds, add the juice of one fresh lemon as it is packed full of vitamin C which will help mobilise your bug fighting white blood cells.
A myriad of mushrooms
Recently the scientific world is discovering the wonderful immune boosting properties of all things fungi. Shiitake, reishi, button and swiss brown – all of them are being proved to kick into action your Natural Killer Cells, one of your body’s super powerful immune cells and help boost your immune system. Eat a variety of mushrooms as often as you can.
The simple act of washing your hands can help stop the spread of germs. Use soap and warm water to eradicate the bugs that you may be picking up from the bus, the café or your family.
REMEMBER: if you do get a cold or cough this winter the best thing you can do for a speedy recovery is stay home from work and rest. If you spend time looking after yourself at the onset of a cold then you can avoid that dragging low energy illness that are so common during winter.
If you do get sick your body needs:
plenty of rest
plenty of water
to eat nourishing soups and fruit & veg
avoid all stimulants such as sugar, coffee, alcohol and cigarettes. Also visual stimulation like computers, mobile devices, TV and video games.
“The common cold is not often a bacterial infection so antibiotics from the GP won’t assist in defeating it quickly. They can potentially reduce the chances of you developing a secondary bacterial infection, which is often seen in coughs but won’t fix your cold. Antibiotics can result in a disruption of your digestive system, so if you do take them please remember to dose up on a good probiotic afterwards. In this day and age where there is so much concern about antibiotic resistance perhaps opting for more natural and (dare I say) effective methods of immune support may just be what your body needs.”
I find that many people don’t recognise the huge benefit that naturopaths can have in acute conditions such as colds and coughs. There are so many potent herbal anti-biotic, anti-viral and immune boosting plants that are available to us and can be tailored to your specific situation.
So, next time your immune system struggles with a cold follow my simple Winter Wellness instructions, hunt down your local herbalist and grab some natural herbal and nutrient support – your body will thank you and you’ll be back on your feet in no time.
Stay well and be happy,
Naturopath at New Leaf Naturopathic Health