On Your Marks, Get Set, Go… Is your body ready for all that the Winter can throw at it?

November 1, 2019

The clocks change, you have to scrape the car off in the morning, the heating is on and the media overload of seasonal festivities can become intense and overbearing. It can feel as if there is too much to do to create the picture-perfect images, cope with the changes in the weather and it might be better to just hibernate.

With everything going on at this time of year, it may seem easier just to hibernate.

So how about some good news, with simple steps you can make sure you are physically and mentally prepared for the season and sail through with the minimum of disruption.

Thankfully, our mental health and wellbeing is now something that people regularly talk about and there are plenty of ways of supporting yourself and those around you. The good news is that apart from diet, supplementation and medications, research is now showing us that something as simple as a walk outside in nature can make a significant impact on our mental wellbeing. With daylight hours getting fewer, it may seem hard to find the time to get outside, but maybe you can fit 30 minutes in a local park or a walk along a towpath during a lunch break. Or plan a longer walk at the weekend or on a day off. The exercise will do you good, the greenery has a positive effect, the fresh air is enlivening and invigorating and your circulation gets going, helping to keep you warm.

Taking a walk surrounded by nature has been shown to have positive effects on our mental wellbeing.

The mental health charity, MIND, has plenty of positive and accessible information and solutions on their website. Even if you feel that you a don’t have any issues, it is still worth giving yourself a mental health MOT and keep yourself well.

When we think of the Mediterranean diet, we instantly think of sunshine and brightness. So many health issues are being shown by research to be helped and supported by following a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts, oily fish, lean meat and plenty of healthy oils such as olive oil and avocados. Even if the cold weather makes you think of casseroles and hot, sugar laden puddings, aim to have at least one salad a day, use a rainbow of vegetables to make soups and add healthy oils to your cooking.

You will increase the intake of good fats, vitamins and minerals in your diet without having to try too hard, just with a few dietary changes you can also boost your recipe repertoire and bring some sunshine into dark winter days.

It is the season of coughs and colds and closed windows. How frustrating is it to be stuck on public transport with someone coughing and sneezing just a few feet away? Research from the University of Bristol found that the average sneeze or cough can send around 100,000 contagious germs into the air at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour! With the thought that a sneeze can send those germs over 75 feet and the average tube carriage being 65 feet long, it is easy to think that there is little escape.

Thankfully, you can be prepared and keep your system fighting off the invaders. Firstly, keep washing your hands. Despite the number of germs in a sneeze, we pick up more from door handles and money, then touch our faces. It is easy for any viruses to travel into the eyes or mouth and onwards into the respiratory system. Frequent washing with soap and water is a simple and effective step.

A singe cough or sneeze can release 100,000 microbes into the atmosphere.

Keeping hydrated is also important as a hydrated body functions far more efficiently. Drink water, herbal teas and the occasional fruit juice. Tea and coffee may warm you up, but they increase your caffeine intake and possibly your sugar intake if you go for lots of additions to your coffee.

When it comes to supplements, zinc and vitamin C have been shown by research to support the proper function of the immune system. If your immune system is in good shape, you can fight off more of what you are exposed to. By taking a zinc supplement that also includes copper will help your body utilise the zinc more efficiently as well as give added support to the immune system. If your vitamin C supplement also contains bioflavonoids, you will be getting added benefits from the addiction of the nutrients that support vitamin C.

Vitamin C and Zinc are needed for proper functioning of the immune system, valuable support at this time of year.

Thinking back to the Mediterranean diet and the benefits of olives, you can also take a supplement of olive leaf extract. Olive leaf has a much higher polyphenol content than just olive oil and research has shown that it can play a role in many areas of health due to it’s antimicrobial activity. A standardised extract will ensure you have a regular amount of the active principle oleuropein.

Lack of daylight can increase anxiety, SAD and low mood as well as the build up to Christmas making some people feel very stressed out. There are supplements that can help support us through all this too. Vitamin D in drops, gummies or capsules is an important supplement. Research is showing that it plays a role not only in the health of bones and muscles, but also in hormone balance and mood levels. As it is almost impossible to manufacture our own from sunlight during the winter, a supplement is a good idea.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that is triggered by lack of light. People can experience it in varying degrees from mild low mood to an incapacitating deep depression. Light boxes have been shown to have positive effects with the user sitting in front of a large light that mimics the spectrum of daylight. If you experience SAD, it may well be worth investing in one.

If you want to keep your nervous system in good condition, look for a B Complex supplement, B vitamins are needed for normal functioning of the nervous system and for normal psychological function. A good supplement for this time of year when it can seem like your to-do list is never ending. B vitamins are water soluble, so take a supplement regularly and with the B vitamins in their active forms for best results. They can also help prevent tiredness and maintain normal energy levels.

By adding the mineral magnesium to your B complex, you get added support. Magnesium supports similar health areas such as the nervous system and normal psychological function.

Take time out for a bit of relaxation to recharge your batteries.

It can seem too easy to get overloaded with all that you have to do at this time of year. Make sure to take time out for long baths, a good book by the fire or a catch up with friends or family for some quality relaxing time too. Simple pleasures can make a positive impact on your overall wellbeing and can be as important as your diet and supplement regime in maintaining good health.

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