10 health hacks to boost your well-being this winter
With winter on the horizon you may be thinking about purchasing that new parka coat, holding out on cranking up the heating system and having a clear out of your wardrobe. However, make sure that prepping your body for the change of season, by supporting your health is a priority too.
So, how can the seasons affect our health and why?
“I’ve found that my clients achieve more successful long-term results when marrying their health programme with simple advice based on the time of year. There are peak times of the day when your body is at its most effective – and peak times during the year when it is right to work on the many different aspects of your wellbeing. The seasons and all that they bring have a direct effect on both our physical and mental health. We need to embrace this knowledge and use it to our advantage, explains Jacqueline Harvey, Wellness Expert & Author (www.jacquelineharvey.co.uk).
1. Don’t forget about vitamin D
“Our vitamin D levels can decrease as there is less sunlight. Vitamin D is crucial for bone and skin health and can help stop diabetes developing as it aids the function of the pancreas, which controls blood sugar,” explains Jacqueline.
“As a result of low vitamin D, immune function may be below par and the incidence of illness and infections can be more frequent, with recovery times being longer than normal,” adds Nutritionist Alix Woods.
To make sure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin D, try sense* for Busy Lives Superfood Powder (35g, £6.99, Boots) which comes in a travel size and also contains an array of vitamins and superfoods. These include baobab, which supports optimal energy release, as well as hemp that helps to decrease hormonal imbalances, to give your mood a boost. You can sprinkle this on your food, or add to your favourite smoothie, or simply mix with water.
2. Set the scene
“Create a beautiful environment for yourself, feeding your five senses to block out the harshness of the season. Lighting, scent and soft beautiful textures in the home, visual beauty and calming or lifting music can all help to improve a feeling of well being,” suggests Jacqueline.
3. When life gives you lemons…
“Drinking a glass of lemon juice with water every morning is the perfect way to kick-start your digestion, and boost your immunity at the same time. This is because lemons contain bioflavonoids, a group of nutrients, which boost immunity by protecting the cells of your body against environmental pollutants. To make a glass of fresh lemon juice, squeeze the juice of one lemon into a glass, add 300 ml (10 fl oz) slightly warm water. Stir and drink immediately,” suggests Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar(www.marilynglenville.co.uk).
4. Show your joints and bones some TLC…
As a nation we certainly know a thing or two about joint pain. Around 10 million Brits suffer from arthritis, which can range from mild to severe and can affect people of many ages. When the temperature drops it can often increase the chances of getting pain in the joints. To aid your joints this winter, try sense* for Joint & Bone Supplement Powder 35g, £6.99, Boots).
Accredited Nutritionist at sense* Dimitra Sentelidou MSc/BSc explains, “We’ve carefully designed sense* for Joint & Bone to offer the optimum amount and variety of vitamins to support the modern lifestyle; specifically focusing on those who want to give their joints and bones some proper TLC.” Try stirring sense* for Joint and Bone into your breakfast, so you can help care for your joints and bones all season long, or take your health on the go and boost your smoothie at work.
5. Don’t be a home bird – too much of the time!
“Get out into nature and natural daylight as much as possible. We can find ourselves going from the office, to the car or public transport, to home, barely venturing outside. There is nothing like a brisk walk on a crisp winter’s day,” suggests Jacqueline.
6. Cut down on coffee
“Coffee doesn’t help your immune system do its job efficiently, so keep your coffee consumption down to no more than one cup a day, or take a break from it completely during the week and keep it just to the weekend. Caffeine can also leach important immune-boosting nutrients, like zinc out of your body and dehydrate you. In fact, too much caffeine may lead to health problems, such as high blood pressure, brittle bones, sleep disorders and just plain irritability,” explains Marilyn.
7. Don’t let central heating wreck havoc on your skin
“Dehydration and dry skin are common during the winter season, due to the effects of central heating and the harsh weather. Drink plenty of water and top up the good fats in your diet such as oily fish, nuts and seeds. Warming soups and herbal teas also help rehydrate. You may need to switch up your skin care regime to products that are richer and more moisturizing to compensate,” explains Jacqueline.
8. Give your health a hand – with reflexology
The colder months can have a negative impact on our mood and you may feel find it harder to control your stress levels. “Try hand reflexology. Reflexologists believe that massaging key points in your hand can ease stress and tension. Try pinching the area between your thumb and forefinger about two centimetres into the palm to combat stress. This point is thought to correlate to the adrenal glands, responsible for releasing stress hormones into the body. Pinch the point firmly for three seconds and repeat three times, or massage the area with circular movements,” suggests Marilyn.
9. Cold weather shouldn’t mean constantly eating comfort foods
“We can be tempted to eat fats, refined carbs and sugary foods when it is cold outside and we are feeling sluggish. This can not only create weight gain, but reaching for these foods may only make us crash after the initial energy rush, creating a vicious cycle. The solution is to eat more high GI foods such as complex carbohydrates to keep us feeling sated for longer,” suggests Jacqueline.
10. Cut down on cooking – yes really!
With the evenings drawing in, the last thing you may want to be doing is slaving over the cooker when getting snuggled on the sofa is calling. Well, Dr. Marilyn Glenville may have some good news for you! “Cut down on the amount of cooking you do, because cooked food – especially overcooked food – diminishes the amount of immune-boosting nutrients. Try to eat more raw (preferably organic) food. The fresher and less processed your food is the better, and the higher the immune-boosting nutrient content of your food.
“This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cook at all. Certain foods such as eggs and fish can be dangerous to eat when raw, and need to be cooked thoroughly. There are also some foods like tomatoes where the antioxidant benefit is stronger once the food is cooked rather than raw. Try to balance cooked food with raw food: perhaps 50:50, and cook gently, at a lower heat and for longer if necessary. (It’s always best to avoid aluminium cookware as this can increase the toxic load on your immune system). Steaming is the ideal way to cook vegetables, stir frying is a good way of cooking fish, and poaching is useful for eggs and fish,” explains Marilyn.