Take Good Care of Yourself in Colder Months

Not long ago, one of my patients asked about staying healthy during the colder, winter months.  She mentioned almost every year she gets sick during the winter and this year she wanted to be pro-active.  She heard me talking to another patient about things I do regularly during the colder months to stay on top of optimal health.  I thought it would be worth sharing these simple ways to power through the fall and winter.

Most of us love fall and winter activities and don’t want any down time due to illness.  Here are some simple ways to stay on top of our game as the weather cools down:

  • Wear an extra layer all the time.  Going back to basic immunology, the bugs that cause many common illnesses are the healthiest and happiest right around our normal body temperature.  Just wearing an extra long-sleeved shirt or throwing on a jacket can keep our core body temperature slightly higher than optimal to help combat these bugs.  Remember back when our Moms told us to put on a coat or we would catch a cold?  Well, we don’t catch colds when we don’t wear a coat, however, it does help to keep our body temperature slightly higher during the winter months.
  • Similar to wearing an extra layer outside, put an extra blanket or two on the bed.  Especially in the colder months, it pays to keep very warm while we are sleeping.  If we stay right around normal body temperature, we present a great place for bugs that cause illness to replicate.  Our immune systems will kill these bugs faster when they are weakened by a higher body temperature.  Wear a long-sleeved shirt and socks to bed every night during the fall and winter.  Quite often I wake up sweaty and/or too hot, I just drink some water and go back to sleep.  I know I am giving my immune system the greatest change to kill any invading bugs when I feel a bit too warm at night.
  • It is never a bad time to eat extra healthy foods, and the cooler months are no exception.  The bugs that cause colds and flu love an environment with sugar.  Unfortunately, the typical American diet is loaded with sugar and foods that quickly convert to simple sugars.  Breads, pastas, rices, cookies, chips and crackers are huge sources of simple sugars.  The same goes for dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.  Keeping our blood sugar low gives the bugs a less optimal environment to thrive.  Reducing our consumption of any foods containing flour or dairy products is a great start to a healthy fall and winter.
  • Keep up the exercise and active living.  It seems so much easier to be active when it is warm and the sun is shining.  As the days get shorter and the temperature dips, quite often so do our activity levels.  Make a point to keep moving and finding activities that keep us off the couch and outside.  Raising our core body temperature and burning calories helps our immune systems kill any bugs that we may come in contact with.

Following these simple suggestions can help keep us on our feet for a very healthy fall and winter season.  Be Blessed.

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