As the temperature drops and the dark days descend upon us, the winter months can affect us all emotionally and physically.
Listening to your body and following the cycles of nature is imperative for staying well and happy during the winter months.
Seasonal Affective Disorder:
The National Health Service calculate that 7% of the population suffer from a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Although this figure is estimated to be much higher as most people don’t seek help.
SAD is prevalent in winter and is linked to decreased exposure to day light. It is a recent condition, one that was unheard of 70 years ago.
The extra hours in darkness can be an indication of poor health as we become more detached from nature manifesting illness/ disharmony in different ways.
In Chinese medicine, winter is believed to be connected to the kidneys which are involved which adrenal function (energy) and water.
When the days get shorter so should yours, so ensure that you get adequate sleep.
Winter is a time to rest your adrenal glands, detox, conserve energy perhaps introducing meditation and do gentle exercise such as walking.
Eat your evening meal as early as possible and ensure that is isn’t too heavy.
Utilise as much day light as possible, especially if your suffering from SAD.
Sunlight triggers the release of a feel good neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin which helps to uplift mood.
Sunlight also helps to produce Vitamin D which is a key element for a healthy immune system.
irst and foremost do as your mother said and “keep yourself warm” wearing hats, scarfs etc.
Regularly wash your hands for 30 seconds in a natural soap containing tea tree.
Be aware of objects that can harbour germs such as computer key pads and mobile phones.
One of the most damaging components to the immune system is sugar; research has shown that sugar can significantly reduce the activity of white blood cells for up to 5 hours after ingesting a carbohydrate rich meal or bar of chocolate severely depressing the immune system.
Enhancing the immune system
Garlic has been referred to “Russian Penicillin” due to its powerful anti bacterial properties.
Incorporate it in soups and casseroles.
Eat foods rich in carotenes such as:
- dark green vegetables
- sweet potatoes
- red peppers
Carotenes enhance white blood cells and protect the thymus which is a major gland in the immune system.
These foods also help the body to detoxify eliminating toxins from the body.
Vitamin C has renowned properties for enhancing the immune system; food sources with a high content include peppers, kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and oranges.
Zinc is a potent mineral for immune function and deficiency results in an increased susceptibility to infection rich sources of zinc include:
- pumpkin seeds
- Brazil nuts
- green peas
- turnips and garlic
Introducing foods such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and chilli peppers can help to stimulate the circulation having a warming effect.
On the detox retreat I will be delivering the nutritional talks and can answer any questions that you may have about nutrition and general health and well being.
1. Stay warm from the inside.
The process of thermogenesis, the production of heat within the body, keeps our metabolism fired up and can aid in weight loss too.
It is important to eat warming foods throughout the colder months to keep your digestive system happy.
The best foods are: black pepper, spices (cayenne, chilli), green tea, coconut oil and consuming a protein-rich diet.
2. Give your diet a boost.
Be sure to include lots of vitamin C rich foods: kiwi, tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, sprouts, oranges, cauliflower.
If you are finding it hard to include lots of helpings of vegetables and fruits, try having a daily juice!
Keep the juices as vegetable-based as possible to reduce the sugar content.
The perfect immune supporting juice is: apple, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, spinach and carrot.
Other great foods to help boost your immune system are mushrooms, sweet potatoes, garlic and gluten-free oats.
3. Go easy on the alcohol during the festive season.
It’s easy to get carried away with the copious glasses of mulled wine on offer at this time of year, but, be sure to drink a glass of water for each glass of wine to ensure you stay properly hydrated and to allow your immune system to keep any bugs at bay.
4. Keep exercising.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of not wanting to exercise (or go outside!) during the winter but it is important to keep moving to keep your immune system working well and to boost your mood.
Wrap up warm and get outside for a walk or run.
Arrange to meet with a friend so you can’t cancel, it can help you stick to goals!
5. Stay warm outside.
Wrap up warm! Invest in gloves, a hat and cosy jumpers and thermal underwear to make sure you don’t catch a chill from being outside.
Opt for natural fibres such as cotton, wool and cashmere especially if the garment is touching your skin.
If you are a keen runner, having the right clothing is important for performance and to protect against catching a cold.
Thermal base layers, a wind / rain-proof jacket and heavy duty leggings are all key exercise garments.
6. Get enough good sleep.
As Christmas approaches, we seem to have less and less time to relax and look after ourselves.
Lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on our immune system.
Try to get to sleep around the same time every night if possible.
Create a night-time routine to help you unwind; turn the lights down low and switch off the TV and electronic items around an hour before bed, soak in a hot bath with some lavender or chamomile essential oils to help the process of relaxation or try some breathing techniques and meditation.
7. Don’t forget to wash your hands.
Lots of nasty bugs are picked up on the surfaces that we touch and come into contact with on a daily basis.
If you use public transport in particular it is important to wash your hands once you get to work or back home.
You don’t want to be become obsessed with continually cleaning your hands, but just being more aware in public places can help reduce the spread of cold-inducing viruses and bacteria.
8. Take preventative supplements.
Supplements are not the answer for everything, however, if you are feeling stressed with little time then they can help to support your body and protect against illness.
Try taking Higher Nature’s Echinacea Cold & Flu Relief tablets as a preventative measure against the onset of a cold.
Terranova’s Vitamin C Complex contains other compounds such as acai, cherry and rose hips for an extra immune boost!
Terranova also offer a fantastic Zinc Complex which works well when taken alongside the Vitamin C for added immune support.
9. Cut out smoking.
We all know that smoking is bad for us, but in particular it completely depletes our vitamin C levels, rendering our immune system weakened.
If you are a smoker, think about how often you get a cold or feel a bit under the weather – every month?
Take the opportunity this New Year to really make a change, and decide to give up smoking for good.
It will work wonders on your health and allow your body to work effectively to protect you from getting ill through the Winter!
10. Try this Immune boosting drink.
Mushrooms and green tea are both great immune system boosters.
So why not try using the most potent green tea, matcha, and some reishi mushroom powder with a non-dairy milk of your choice to make a delicious, immune boosting alternative to tea and coffee!
- 1/4 tsp reishi mushroom powder
- 1/4 tsp matcha green tea powder
- cup of milk of choice
A little maple syrup or stevia to sweeten if necessary.
Heat the milk on the pan, add the ingredients and use a whisk to stir everything together to create a little froth.