This time of year sees the winter cold and flu viruses at their happiest, spreading their joy around, whether we like it or not. Everywhere you turn, someone is coughing or sneezing and it’s pretty hard to avoid those germs completely. Do you seem to catch every bug going whilst your partner/friend/work colleague just seem to sail through winter snot free?
Here are just a few reasons why we tend to get ill more often during winter:
We spend less time outside in the winter months which can make us deficient in Vitamin D (lack of sunlight). Vitamin D helps those white blood cells function and fight off infections.
We tend to move less in the winter, opting to stay in front of the TV, instead of getting out and doing as much exercise as we do throughout the summer. Less movement means our lymphatic systems slow down, in turn slowing down the movement of vitamins and immune cells around the body.
The stress of Christmas can also take it’s toll. We manically run around buying gifts, trying to see our friends and family and of course the added cost of Christmas increases those stress levels. This activity can sometimes mask or suppress the symptoms of illness from rearing their ugly heads. When it’s over we stop, our bodies relax and we release the stress causing the immune system to fire up. This is when illness can creep in.
It’s pretty impossible to completely avoid getting ill through winter, but you can do things to try and prevent it:
Supplement your Vitamin D intake by taking either D2 or D3. D2 is found in plant based foods and D3 in animal based foods, so choose whatever works for you. The additional intake will help maintain healthy bones and teeth, support the immune system and cardiovascular health. This is imperative throughout those cold and dark winter months.
Keep exercising. I hate being cold and find it harder to get outside to exercise during the winter, but I do it because I know the benefits are huge. Exercise is needed to keep those immune cells moving around our systems. Get wrapped up and get outside for a long walk or even a run if you’re feeling good.
Dehydration can accelerate illness. It’s the season where we turn up the heating which can dry up our eyes, nose and mouth. Whilst this won’t lead to dehydration it’s something you need to be aware of and can avoid. In the lead up to Christmas we may drink more alcohol than water so make sure you keep yourself fully hydrated by drinking a glass of water in between drinks.
Lack of sleep. The Christmas party season can take its toll on our sleep patterns, especially those mid week after work events. Not enough sleep can drain our bodies and reduce our immunity up to 70%. A good nights sleep will help to boost our immune systems and fight off those winter lurgies.
Improved hand hygiene. Germs lurk where you least expect them. You would be amazed at the amount of germs that can be found on shopping trolleys or weights in the gym! Wash your hands properly after going to the toilet and when using public transport, or any equipment others may use.
If all else fails get some dark chocolate because it contains immune fighting cocoa – what better reason to have a bit of something naughty, but nice!
Stay well during the winter months.
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