Most people prepare for the winter by putting away the patio furniture, covering delicate shrubs and taking out the shovels and snow gear. But what about our body? Shouldn’t we take a few steps to prepare it for winter as well? Here are a few tips to help you survive the winter months.
Adapt your food.
During the winter, when the outdoor temperature becomes cold, it is important to choose foods that will help us maintain an appropriate body temperature and keep us warm and cozy. Foods like fresh fruits and raw vegetables are quite cooling for the body and should therefore be consumed in smaller amounts. Instead, roasted or steamed vegetables, soups and stews will warm and comfort the body. It is also important to make sure we consume sufficient amounts of proteins and healthy fats, such as meats, avocado, nuts and seeds, because our immune system depends on it. Foods that easily turn into sugar in the body, like bread, pasta, pastries and anything that contains refined sugar, should be consumed in very small amounts because they tend to decrease the immune system’s capacity to fight against viruses.
Get your beauty sleep.
Sleep plays a very important role in supporting the immune system. One of the immune system’s key components is melatonin, a hormone we produce during sleep, and the peak time for melatonin production is between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. Consequently, going to bed after midnight or having difficulty falling asleep significantly decreases melatonin production, which can be linked to decreased protection against colds and flus. For this reason, going to bed before 11:00 p.m. and treating insomnia problems are especially important during the winter months.
Take your vitamins.
The most important vitamin to take during the winter is Vitamin D, due to our lack of sun exposure. I usually recommend taking about 3,000 IU of Vitamin D per day between September and May in order to efficiently support the immune system.
Even if we have the best of intentions, it can be difficult to get our six to ten daily servings of vegetables during the winter months, when access to fresh produce is reduced. In that case, taking a few vitamin supplements can be useful. A good-quality, well-absorbed multivitamin and mineral supplement can help maintain a healthy level of all the basic nutrients the body needs for optimal cellular function. Also taking an extra Vitamin C can only be beneficial for the maintenance of a healthy immune system.
Enjoy the season.
Last, but not least, find ways to enjoy winter. Spending these months feeling grumpy about the snow and the cold only creates more stress, which in turn further reduces the immune system. Bundle up, go out and enjoy the snow. Try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing or just go for walks and take some deep breaths to oxygenate your lungs. Discover the beauty of winter and make it part of a healthy lifestyle!
Anouk Chaumont, ND, graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and practices in Grande Prairie at Anodyne Chiropractic and Sports Therapy. She helps people with a wide variety of conditions, from acute infections to chronic disease, and she is passionate about whole family health.by