Stay Healthy this Winter

We are very lucky in Australia to have the day-to-day freedoms that we do.  In most other countries at the moment, they continue to be restricted on where they can go and how many people they can interact with.  But with these freedoms and interaction comes the transmission of bacteria and viruses.  We are entering into cold and flu season where your body is more susceptible to getting sick. 

So here are some tips to keeping healthy this winter.

Sleep is the most important activity your body needs. When sleeping, your body restores, heals, and creates important hormones. Get to bed early and stay there for at least 7-8 hours each night.  Avoid caffeine after noon to ensure you get a good quantity and quality of sleep.  Read my blog article “Having Trouble Sleeping?” for more advice.

Psychological stress is associated with a greater risk of depression, heart disease and infectious diseases.  Take time out – exercise, garden, meditate, whatever it is that helps you to relax.

What would one of my articles be if I didn’t mention exercise?  Exercise is important for everyone. To keep your immune system at its best you want at least a brisk 30-minute walk each day.  If you are an avid athlete, you also need to take care, as very high intensity exercise can put a strain on your immune system.

Our bodies are composed of 70% water. Proper hydration is important for the optimum functioning of all your body systems. Increase your water intake slowly getting up to 2L per day.

Hot-Cold showers are an excellent way of improving your immune system, increasing circula­tion and elevating energy levels. After finishing your regular shower routine, do 20 seconds of cold and 1 minute of hot. Alternate 2-3 times, ending with cold.  The increase in circulation will also help decrease sensitivity to the cold.

There are several supplements you can take to help boost your immune system. Daily zinc supplementation has been shown to shorten the duration and severity of the common cold, reduce the incidence of acute lower respiratory tract infections in preschool children by 45% and reduce the incidence of pneumonia by 41%.

Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells and is quickly consumed during an infection.  It is a natural antihistamine and has been found to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections.

More than 80% of the body’s immune system is in the digestive tract.  A lack of good bacteria in the digestive tract can cause a reduction in the immune system allowing increased infections.  Take a good quality probiotic to prevent bad bacteria from taking hold.

Vitamin D has a direct effect on the immune system. Vitamin D stimulates the production of natural antibiotic proteins thus killing more bacteria.  Insufficient levels are related to a deficiency in our immune system to protect us against infections.  

If you get sick, try warming socks.  You will be surprised at how effective they are!

These are just a few suggestions for staying healthy this winter.  For personalized advice, contact your local naturopath. Let’s stay healthy this winter!