It is getting really cold these days, with temperatures dropping below -5 degrees Celsius. At least the sun is shining often, which does make a difference in my opinion, and really helps to boost our mood! 🙂 But as the days and nights are so cold, we need to take extra care for ourselves to stay warm and healthy. The cold temperature can weaken our body’s defence against infection. As we are not spending much time outside and in the sun, our vitamin D levels get low, an important vitamin that plays a role in strengthening our immune system.
The air we breathe can also carry more viruses and bacteria. Research* shows that dry weather conditions seem to offer the perfect environment for flu viruses to flourish. As the air humidity drops, the particles from our nose and mouths we sputter as we sneeze and cough, become very small and stay in the air for longer periods of time. This makes it easier for us to breathe them in. We are exposed to catch a cold in crowded places, such as public transport and closed rooms with lots of people. But before we get all freaked out about it, let me share with you four easy ways that will help you strengthen your immune system and make those cold days easier on you. In the end, these days also offer an opportunity to cozy up and be gentle to your body. 🙂
1.Eat warming foods
Pay extra attention to the food you eat to strengthen your immune system. You want to focus on nourishing your body, so it can do its job in protecting you agains infection better. Focus on warming foods, such as stews, vegetable soups, and casseroles. Those foods are also easy to make in a big batch, so you can have leftovers to take with you for lunch. You will enjoy a delicious home made food, and save time and money! I have lot’s of warming recipes, so make sure you check the recipes for some inspiration and ideas. Instead of having a cold skimmed milk with cereal in the morning, enjoy a warm oatmeal with chia and hemp seeds. It will offer you better nutrition and will warm you up. Use warming spices when you cook, such as cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and turmeric. Eat good carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, millet and quinoa. Don’t worry about how much carbs you eat, but pay attention to what kinds of carbs you eat. They are offering you the best source of energy, and your body needs that especially in the cold months! If you are wondering which carbs to eat, make sure you read this post here, where I explain this in more detail.
2. Stay hydrated
This is always important, but as you are now breathing drier air, you want to up your liquid intake. Focus on herbal teas during the day, such as camomile, peppermint, ginger/turmeric or nettle/cinnamon tea. Always have some water next to you, so you don’t forget to drink up. I have a 1,5lt glass jug that I fill with filtered water and keep on my desk. It is a great reminder to drink up. Also, try to avoid alcohol and caffeine if you can, as they contribute to dehydration.
3. Beat the winter blues
Because it is cold, we don’t spend much time outside, and we can get a bit low. Our energy stagnates and we feel lazy and listless. So try to stay active as much as you can. Move your body, stretch, do some yoga, whatever you fancy. Bundle up and go for a walk outside, when the sun is shining. It will help to boost your energy and mood. And good nutrition can also help you beat the winter blues. Have a look at some foods that can help with that in my post here.
4. Get some rest
Eating nutritious food and staying warm is part of the equation. Your immune system is highly dependant on your rest levels too. Sleep is an important factor for staying healthy and in a good mood. Create a calming evening routine that will help you sleep better. By doing it consistently you will notice how your body relaxes as soon as you start it. Not only babies like a good night routine, but adults can reap huge benefits from it too (trust me, I know what I’m talking about!). Lately I have this night routine where I like to perform a self-massage with warm sesame oil (this is an Ayurvedic ritual, and I will write more about it in a separate blog post), take a warm bath and drink a nice herbal tea (currently one with fennel and coriander, as I am still breastfeeding) and cozy up with a nice book. It does wonders for me, and helps me settle and fall asleep quickly.
Do you have any other tips about how to stay healthy during the cold months? I’d love to hear from you, so share them in the comments below!