Do you have your winter herbal medicine chest all stocked? I hope you don’t have to use it. Even though the cold weather seems to bring more illness than at other times of the year, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can learn some preventative measures for how to stay healthy in winter. After all, you don’t want to suffer for weeks on end. You also don’t want spring to come and find you sick in bed. Here are some things to keep in mind through the cold months.
5 Secrets to How to Stay Healthy in Winter
I have to admit that many of my suggestions are not rocket science. Winter really is no different than any other time of year. Your body still needs the same things that it needed in the summer. But, our winter habits and the cold tend to cause us to forget some of those things. Plus, our bodies naturally prepare for cold by triggering certain behaviors. So, one of the key principles for how to stay healthy in winter is to listen to your body.
Exposure to Sunlight.
The days are shorter to be sure but we need to get as much sun exposure as possible in the winter months. Why? Because the sun’s rays help us make vitamin D and vitamin D is vital to how to stay healthy in winter. According to studies, vitamin D plays an important role in how the immune system responds. A deficiency is associated with increased risk of infection and autoimmune disease, in addition to problems with your bones. Twenty minutes daily with your face exposed to the winter sun may just keep the winter illness at bay. And of course, you’re not just standing still with your face turned to the sun. You’re walking, skiing, skating, or sledding. The exercise is good, too.
But, what to do when clouds cover the sky more often than not? Well, you can supplement with vitamin D. Earthley makes a vitamin D cream that you rub on your stomach and other areas where your body stores fat. It is also safe for children in small amounts. You could also take cod liver oil, which has the benefit of giving you vitamin A and essential fatty acids as well. A third option are vitamin D3 capsules or drops.
Eat What’s in Season.
But, nothing’s in season, right? Actually, the fall months give us plenty of foods to store up. And, by God’s good grace, they just happen to have exactly the vitamins and minerals we need for the winter. All those squashes and root vegetables contain lots of vitamin C and vitamin A, not to mention all the trace minerals. They also offer us lots of starch to provide the energy our bodies need to keep warm. During the winter, that extra starch and the tendency toward less activity add a few extra pounds. In older times, those extra pounds would help sustain us through the lean months of winter and then we would do a spring fast to lose them again. So, stock up on all those squashes, root veggies, apples, pears, and cranberries.
What else is in season in winter? Meat. Typically deer hunting season starts in October or November and runs about three months. For rabbits and squirrels, it’s similar. I know. Not everyone hunts, but the fact that hunting season is in the cold months tells us something. So, take a hint from what God gives us and from traditional practices because that’s how to be healthy in winter.
Avoiding sugar is key to how to be healthy in winter.
High sugar consumption, particularly white sugar products, is the root of all sorts of health problems. These health problems include the obvious–obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay–but also many others that aren’t so obvious. One of the ways that sugar affects the body that I want to point out is the immune system. Sugar competes with vitamin C to attach to specific immune system cells. Vitamin C helps to mobilize our immune systems and make them more effective.
Sugar, however, is like giving your “army” a sedative. It slows the immune system down, making it harder to fight off infections. We usually ingest enough vitamin C, so we aren’t in danger of deficiencies. But, if we can’t use it because we eat too much sugar, well, what good is it? Sugar also causes an inflammatory immune response because of how your body processes it. All that chronic inflammation also makes you more susceptible to illness, not to mention causing you pain all over.
Add in some tonics.
Tonic herbs and foods strengthen and support the whole body, making everything work better. When used in conjunction with a nutrient-dense diet, they enhance the benefits of all those vitamins and minerals. You feel more energetic, stronger, healthier. They also help all your eliminative organs work more efficiently, clean the blood, and nourish you. These allies are like the icing on the cake. One of my favorite combinations is offered by Earthley. Earthley Master Tonic contains some great herbs to support you during the harsh winter months. Diffusing essential oils in your home can kill microorganisms before they have a chance to make you sick. Some great ones to diffuse are Cinnamon or Thyme.
Invite some company.
Did you know that recent research shows that we hunger for social connection just like food hunger? That’s right. Our brains give off the same signals for social deprivation as it does for food deprivation. This demonstrates that we experience both in much the same way. That’s how much we need other people. It’s like food for our souls. In fact, babies deprived of touch die even though all their physical needs are met. Other studies show that married men live longer than single men. We need each other! The winter cold sometimes makes it hard to get together with others, but we must make the effort. Togetherness and connection are essential to our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And, because our physical bodies often manifest our spiritual and emotional truths, it is important for keeping infection at bay.
This winter, put these tips into practice and that’s how to stay healthy. Even if you still get the sniffles, these five tips will help you fight more effectively. And, they’re good to follow at any time of year.