With winter settled upon us, the longer nights and colder days can make healthy eating and exercising feel difficult. Yet now is the perfect time to prioritise these two practices – they can help enhance your immunity, elevate your mood, and ease the aches and pains that commonly accompany this season.
As the saying goes, “you are what you eat”. While cold salads might send a shiver up your spine, there are plenty of healthy meals to fill the need for comfort food, and meet your nutritional needs. They could also help protect you from viral infections, including the common cold.
The common cold is more prevalent in winter because the colder temperatures reduce antiviral immune responses, allowing greater replication. Added to that, nutritional deficiencies might both lower immunity and increase the potency of any virus we become infected with. Nutrition, though, can provide a powerful antidote.
Nature’s antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds help fight against viral infection. You can find these in foods such as almonds, avocado, seeds, turmeric, curcumin, berries, green vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and fresh fatty fish.
Lentil bakes, hearty risottos and soups, vegetable omelettes, veggie-packed stir-fries, berry smoothie bowls… The choices are endless, only limited by your imagination. Maybe it’s a good time to take a cooking class?
You may hear people talking about “the winter blues”. Darker days can bring darker moods. Consuming foods rich in vitamins B12, B9 and zinc may help, as deficiencies in these can cause low mood. Think – eggs, leafy greens, legumes, nuts, oysters, salmon and seeds. Exercise is also great for boosting your mood.
Exercise improves immune function. Add in its pain-relieving power and mood-lifting ability, and moving throughout winter becomes essential. If adverse weather keeps you housebound; stream exercise classes, dance, try bodyweight exercises, and clean your home energetically. If the weather is hospitable, go out for regular walks.
The winter months need not be a time of hibernation, accompanied by poor food choices, irregular exercise and ill health. Use these tips to ensure you effortlessly glide through our coldest season in great shape, and ready for the rest of the year.
This article first appeared in the July/August edition of Your Chiropractor.