Winter means snow days, sledding and hot cocoa. It can also mean colds, flu and sinus issues because as our bodies get colder, they need to work harder to heat themselves back up. Here are some ways to boost immunity during the cold winter months to prevent illness.
Physical activity: The winter season is a great time to get active. Wintertime means less light and more time indoors, so it’s no surprise that many people feel less energetic. But physical activity like cardio, strength training and yoga is healthy and can help us feel more energized throughout the winter months.
Eat with the season: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 90 percent of Americans don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. To stay healthy through the winter, we need to improve our diet. Drop salty snacks and sugary treats for more greens and whole foods. Typical winter veggies include carrots and potatoes to keep our immune system healthy in the cold weather.
Drink plenty of water: We need to drink plenty of water every day to stay hydrated. because it helps us to stay healthy and maintain body fluid levels. Water helps to clean our system, remove toxins, carry nutrients to the body cells and help balance body fluid levels.
Get vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin”, is essential for maintaining good health and immunity. It is also required to regulate mood, and it plays a role in bone growth. But because it is cold outside, it may be hard to get the necessary vitamin D to keep mood-boosting hormones level. If this isn’t an option, consume foods that are good sources of vitamin D.
Use Ayurvedic practices: Ayurveda is a traditional medical system that uses natural medicines to improve health and well-being. It has been around for thousands of years, but most people are just now learning about it. Some research says Ayurveda a the guide to surviving winter, and some of the practices have been proved to help avoid or reduce colds or flu.
Get a massage: In colder months, massage therapy helps bring fresh, oxygenated blood to the whole body, especially congested areas. This warms up muscles and makes blood flow better. Deep-tissue massages to loosen knots and provide the relaxation needed to beat the winter blues.
Practice good sleep habits: Just like a good diet, sleep is a non-negotiable factor for maintaining good health. Part of the reason why sleep is so important is because it helps to keep the immune system healthy. Sleep also eliminates the stress hormone cortisol and burns calories. We all have different sleep needs and preferences, but there are some simple things to improve quality of sleep, including avoiding caffeine after 3 p.m. and keeping the bedroom quiet at night.
Maintain regular hygiene: Maintaining good hygiene during the winter season is key to keeping the spread of germs and bacteria under control, as well as preventing the spread of viral infections. By washing hands frequently, especially if around someone that is ill. Use hand sanitizer if unable to wash hands.
In the winter, there are many precautions that we may take to stay healthy and happy. Go ahead and play with the snow, but be sure to follow all the guidelines and have fun with the weather.
Roman E. Finn, M.D. is a holistic and integrative practitioner of traditional medicine in modern ways. For consultations, call 201-291-0401 or visit citm-drfinn.com.