Monday, November 30, 2009

Seven Ways to Improve Your Winter Health

Keep your immune system strong during the winter months to help ward off the cold and flu.

Washing hands in soapy water.
Washing your hands is probably the No. 1 way to prevent spreading germs.

Staying healthy in the warm months of summer can be a breeze, but the winter months can pose unique challenges when it comes to health, including the holidays’ many temptations, fewer hours of daylight and a greater number of viruses and bacteria making the rounds. Fortunately, a few simple strategies can go a long way toward eliminating your winter woes:

  • Wash your hands! Washing your hands is probably the No. 1 way to prevent spreading germs. Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds before and after eating and after touching things others have touched (including phones and computer keyboards).
  • Protect your immune system. The best way to boost your immunity is to tend to the basics, including getting adequate restful sleep, maintaining daily physical activity, and eating a diet of natural unprocessed food including vegetables, whole grains and limited simple sugars (which can decrease immune function).
  • Keep exercising. It’s more difficult to obtain exercise during the dark, cold months, so enlist an exercise partner to motivate you and accompany you as you exercise. Set small, attainable exercise goals. Gyms and indoor pools provide a weatherproof workout and also offer classes to jump-start your motivation.
  • Stay hydrated. Keep the water flowing through your system, which will keep your mucous membranes (such as those in your sinuses) in good shape and more resistant to bacteria.
  • Clean up winter mold. A moldy environment can decrease your immune function, so eradicate mold by making a 10 percent bleach solution and spraying it on windows and around doors. Also, a home dehumidifier can decrease moisture in the air, which in turn helps decrease mold production.
  • Eat small, frequent meals with protein. Decrease your susceptibility to cravings for sweets and carbohydrates during the winter by keeping your blood-sugar stable. To do this, eat small, regular meals that include protein.
  • Buy a light box. Fewer hours of daylight equals a higher incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And, although you may not realize it, overeating can be a symptom of SAD. To counteract these effects, use a light box with 2000 lux.

Learn more about the services provided by the teaching clinic of Bastyr University, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, or schedule your appointment today.

Sources: Melissa McCarty, ND, Second-year resident at Bastyr Center; Tiffany Reiss, PhD, Chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Wellness at Bastyr University

FALL 2015
Have questions about a program?
Request information »

More Health Tips

The more we can elongate our muscle fibers, the more we can ensure maximum functionality when it comes to movement through our daily lives.

In general, fish caught outside the Fukushima area have levels of radiation far below acceptable limits, but long-term effects of the disaster are still unknown.

Unplugging from electronic devices before bed can improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep.

No need for expensive, chemically laden household cleaners — you likely already have most of these eco-friendly, family- and pet-safe cleaning supplies on hand.

The CDC estimates that by focusing on chronic disease prevention, U.S. health care costs could drop by $1.6 trillion. Are you doing your part?

These simple tips can help provide relief from seasonal allergies so you can enjoy spring again.

Subscribe to Newsletters

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
4 + 12 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.