I will never forget my first winter in NYC. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the snow storms and their power to transform NYC into a barely recognizable winter wonderland. Though beautiful, the brutality of that winter also taught me the importance of knowing how to stay healthy during the winter months.
5 Simple Ways To Stay Healthy This Winter
I have learned to follow these 5 simple winter health tips in order to keep myself and my family healthy during this magical time of the year.
I hope that this information regarding ways to stay healthy this winter is as easy to follow and effective for you as it has been for me.
Get More Vitamin D
Depending on how far away you live from the equator this winter, you will have less sunlight reaching you now than at any other time of the year. Those of us living in the Northern hemispheres such as Boston (U.S.), Edmonton (Canada), Bergen (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden) will find it difficult to bathe in the sun for at least 20 minutes a day. With the colder weather and layered clothing to protect us from dropping temperatures, we just don’t receive enough ultraviolet light from the sun to boost vitamin D production in our bodies. According to a recent Harvard Medical School research article, between 24 – 42% of young adults had low or very low vitamin D levels.
Recent studies from both the Archives of Internal Medicine (2008) and Annals of Internals Medicine (2010) have shown that the consequences of vitamin D deficiency affect both the young and the old. The latest studies suggest a link between vitamin D levels and health problems including:
- Weak bones prone to fracture
- Heart attacks
- Weakened immune systems
In older adults, low vitamin D levels were linked to major declines in executive functions such as organizing and planning with further deterioration in thinking, learning, and memory. For adolescents and adults, it is recommended that a minimum of 1000 IU of vitamin D / day is necessary and 2000 IU of vitamin D / day if there is inadequate sun exposure.
Your best bet for getting the most vitamin D include buying and eating foods that have been fortified with vitamin D (especially the Vitamin D3 variant):
- Fish (cod, herring, catfish, salmon, steelhead trout, halibut)
- Cod liver oil pills (also high in Omega 3)
- Fortified milk, orange juice, cereals
Drink More Water
Drinking water is the simplest and most obvious thing you can do to hydrate your body and keep your skin healthy. But, most of us do not drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day. In the past, it was recommended that individuals drink 8 glasses of water a day but the current mantra is to drink as much water as possible. You can include coffee, tea, juice, and other water filled foods including fruits, vegetables, and soups towards your water requirements.
Do not buy bottled water. Instead, buy either a whole house water filtration system or an on-tap faucet water filter. Not only will this save you money but it is also good for the environment. You will also rest assured in the knowledge that your water filter has been quality control tested and certified by the NSF.
Zinc Yourself Up
According to research at the University of Florida (2009), Zinc is able to power up the immune system by boosting T-cells (a type of white blood cell) which in turn create an immune protein called gamma interferon. This protein is critical for innate and adaptive immunity against both viral and intracellular bacterial infections and ultimately tumor control.
In a research article out of Wayne State University School of Medicine published in Molecular Cell Biochemistry in 1998, Dr. Prasad stated that “we have studied the effects of a mild deficiency of zinc on T cells in an experimental model of human zinc deficiency. We showed that T cell functions were affected adversely even when the deficiency of zinc was mild in humans”.
To maximize your immune system during the cold and flu season, you can eat a few foods that up your Zinc intake. Start by indulging in oysters where only 1 oyster will fulfill a full day’s Zinc requirement, eat 1 cup of high fiber cereals, eat a pill size form of dark chocolate, or 7 ounces of peanuts.
Tea and You
The health benefits of tea stem from the fact that it is made up of a variety of different compounds. Of these components, Flavonoids, which are a form of antioxidant, are the most important, and actively researched, because they have potentially beneficial health effects for humans. Flavonoids have been reported to have antiviral, anti-allergic, anti-platelet, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant activities.
Antioxidants are important to our health because these compounds protect our cells against the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species. Often, there is an imbalance between these antioxidants and reactive oxygen species in our bodies which results in damage on the cellular level. This type of damage has been linked to the development of many diseases and illnesses.
The effectiveness of antioxidants in tea is greatest in white tea, green tea, followed by black tea.
Eat Your Yogurt
Yogurt is a “superfood“. The probiotics found in live yogurt cultures are a source of “good” bacteria that keep the digestive system functioning properly and keep you regular. Several studies have come out in favor and against the benefits of yogurt relative to decreasing the duration and severity of the common cold. Nonetheless, yogurt is beneficial for its high calcium content which aids in the absorption of vitamin D leading to healthy and strong bones.
The variety of yogurt brands in the market have different nutritional profiles, learn more about them.