How to winter proof your body
How to Winter Proof Your Body
Autumn officially arrived this week (bringing the unsettled weather with it!). Whilst it’s still mild out, the cooler days are on their way. Many of us worry about the impact of winter on our health, so here are some simple things you can do to make sure you stay healthy until spring!
- Support your immunity – we don’t want to boost our immunity (an over active immune system is not a good thing!), but it’s a great idea to help support your body’s natural defence mechanisms and see off those winter bugs. There’s no magic bullet here, the immune system is complex and requires a wide variety of nutrients to help it work optimally. The best way to support it is to make sure you’re eating a varied diet – a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, good quality protein, health fats (particularly omega 3 fats from oily fish or plant based sources) and fibre.
- Get your vitamin D – it’s really difficult to get enough vitamin D from your diet, so those of us living in the UK need to make sure we supplement over the winter months. As well as being important for bone health, vitamin D plays a key role in the immune system, so it’s really important to get enough. 10mg is the recommended dose so check your supplement – many contain much higher levels than this. Whilst that might be appropriate for those with low levels, I wouldn’t recommended taking a high dose unless you’ve had your levels checked (your GP can do this).
- Look after your gut health – your microbiome plays a key role in helping you digest and absorb all those health foods to optimise the nutrition you get from them, and also plays role in your immune system, defending you against potential pathogens. Health gut transit is also important to ensure you’re eliminating regularly. Make sure you include adequate fibre in your diet from veg and wholegrains, you’re aiming for 30g a day. It can also be helpful to include probiotic foods like live yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi in your diet.
- Embrace the comfort food – Salad is not always tempting during the winter, but there are lots of healthy and comforting options. I love soup for weekdays lunches, I batch cook at the weekend and freeze in portions. Stews are a good way to get in extra veg, and dishes like dhal are a great source of veggie protein and fibre.
- Stay hydrated – when it’s cooler, it’s easier to forget that drinking plenty is still important. It may not be as tempting to drink lots of water over the winter, so think about adding herbal teas to your routine if you’re struggling to get enough fluid.
- Review your exercise routine – with colder weather and darker evenings, you might have to switch things up a little over the winter. I still love to get outside, but that means investing in some appropriate kit (no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing!). It that’s not too appealing, think about taking your workout indoors using an at home app or the gym.
- Sort your sleep – natural light is important for regulating your circadian rhythm and managing your sleep effectively, but many of us don’t see much daylight during the week in the winter! Try and get outside in the morning if at all possible, even just for 10 mins. I’ll sometimes park up at the office and go for a quick walk before my days get going. Lack of sleep also has profound effect on your immune system, so it’s vital to sleep well if you’re going to stave off those winter infections.