As much as we love the cooler winter months; cosy nights cosy blankets, a toasty fire and warm comforting food. It can also be a time when your health takes a hit with, coughs, colds and sneezes making themselves known.
Less daylight and cold wet weather can also affect our mood and make it harder to exercise and get out in nature. But by building in a few good health boosting habits now we’ll see you through the winter season with ease and keep your immune system lovely and healthy and strong.
Top tips for a happy healthy winter.
Get out into the sunshine.
Top up those vitamin D levels by getting out into the sunshine 15-20 minutes a day. You’ll feel so good for having done it and your health and happiness levels will thank you! Why? Well vitamin D is a key regulator of immune function and an important component of our defence against viruses, with vitamin D deficiency being associated with increased susceptibility to viruses. So, get out there and soak up those lovely sunny rays, knowing you’re naturally giving your immune system a boost.
Enjoy nourishing food
How does your overall diet look? Do you eat really well for a couple of days, but then have 3 or 4 days where you replace all that wholesome nourishing food with with processed, nutrient poor food (we’re talking packaged biscuits, pizza, white bread, white rice, pasta drowning in cheese sauce, topped off with a bowl of ice-cream and chocolate pud, you get the drift). If you find yourself heading down this road most of the time, you’ll be creating nutritional deficiencies that will affect your immune system.
Did you know your gut houses close to 70% of your immune cells? So, if you want to feel good and be the best healthy version of yourself, you’ll want to eat a fibre rich whole food diet encompassing protein, good fats, and complex carbohydrates, and limit your intake of refined processed foods and sugars. A simple way of achieving this and ensuring you get the vitamins, minerals and other important micro-nutrients is to eat a diverse range of wholefoods, think organic grass-fed meat, oily fish, eggs, milk, natural yoghurt, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, good fats, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, berries, leafy greens (eat the rainbow), green tea, and the most delicious of them all a square of dark chocolate.
Turn the shower to cold.
Cold water has direct effects on the immune system at a cellular level. It can increase immune cell numbers and challenges the body, causing cells to release heat shock proteins that are protective and stop DNA damage. Cold water exposure also helps keep you lean, improves your metabolic efficiency and general health. Start by turning the tap too cold at the end of your hot shower and stay there as long as you can manage, from there progress to a cold shower and for the hardy type, take to the ocean or lake for a quick dip. Practice relaxing and controlling your breath while you are exposed to the cold. Post exposure to the cold your body will be warming up from the inside out, and in the process will be utilising fat stores and building fat burning pathways. So, if you want to improve your health and happiness, add this to your daily routine.
You were made to move
With less daylight and colder weather, activity can drop. Daily activity is essential to your health, brain function and happiness. If besides adjusting your diet, you only do one more thing to boost your health and happiness, then let it be exercise. Daily exercise will not only keep your inflammation in check, but it’ll also keep your brain healthy, boost your mood, improve your memory function and help you sleep better. Just like you have to eat every day, you need to exercise every day to really reap the benefits.
Get into a routine now of making movement part of your day. No need for a complicated regime. Each day minimum:
Walk for 30 minutes.
Raise your heart rate 30 minutes.
Stretch/Flexibility work 5 minutes.
Stress can compromise our immune system, and our mental health. If you want to be happier, healthier and more productive, it’s important to implement a stress management practice that works for you. Ultimately, it’s about creating a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation and fun. Stress management isn’t a one size fits all, that’s why it’s important to experiment and find what works for you. You could try going for a walk on the beach, a bush hike, yoga, journaling, gardening, reading a book, a simple breathing technique, meeting a friend for a chat and a cup of tea or cooking. Keep trying different things till you work out what makes you feel better.
Sleep allows our body to carry out vital functions for our physical and mental well-being. A good night’s sleep will not only make you feel happier it will also; improve your immune function, help you maintain a healthy weight, boost your metabolism, reduce stress, increase your energy, reduce your hunger, reduce cortisol
Aim for 7-9 hours which helps your body heal and restore.