Friday, 7 June 2013

Embracing Winter

After a summer that was relentless in its heat and that seemed to extend into a large part of Autumn, Winter is finally upon us here in Melbourne.  After such an intense Summer it is with some relief and delight that I welcome Winter.  Of course, it brings its own challenges - feeling tired, suffering with illness, and longing for sunshine being top of the list.



There are many things we can do to make sure Winter is enjoyed, and not just endured.  Here are the top things on my list.  Please  share any others you may have in the Comments.

Strategies for a Healthy Winter:


Move your body

Although there is a natural inclination to hibernate during Winter, it is also important to get regular exercise. As well as helping to stop us becoming sluggish and put on weight, regular exercise is important for our immune system


Wash your hands!

This may sound a little odd, or obvious, but regular hand washing is an effective strategy against contracting infectious illness.  Special anti-bacterial soap is not necessary - just plain soap and water, with a proper scrub of the hands is all that's needed.


Warming foods

Ok, so it's fairly obvious that at some point I was going to mention food!  During the colder months it's important to eat warming foods - this includes soups, casseroles, roasts.  The root vegetables come into their own during winter and can form the basis of a meal by just cutting up and roasting in a pan, with some olive or coconut oil and a sprinkling of herbs such as rosemary.  Garlic is immune enhancing and can be added near to the end of cooking lots of soups and casseroles for maximum benefit.


Orange

It is no coincidence that many of the vegetables in season now are orange, such as sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots.  Orange vegetables are high in Vitamin A which is strengthening to the mucous membranes of the respiratory system.


Raw and green are good too

As well as enjoying the delights of winter comfort food, include some greens on a daily basis.  Winter provides an abundance of green veggies - silverbeet, spinach, parsley, broccoli and salad greens all grow well.  Some raw greens will give your body beneficial enzymes and fibre.


Drink warm drinks

Remember Enid Blyton books always contained the characters having 'steaming mugs of hot chocolate'??  A warm drink is very comforting.  Beyond the usual tea and coffee, there is a whole world of herbal teas to try.  Some good ones to start with are Licorice, Ginger, Dandelion root and Y.E.P (yarrow, elder and peppermint).  The occasional hot chocolate is a winter treat to be enjoyed, not to feel guilty about!


My favourite immune nutrients


Vitamin C
Vitamin C is effective in preventing and treating common respiratory infections such as the common cold and the flu.  It is most effective when taken right at the start of the infection, when you first suspect you might be ill.  It is possible to take quite high amounts by taking small doses regularly over the day.  Vitamin C is absorbed in the bowel, and maximum absorption is attained when taken in divided doses rather than one large amount.


Zinc
Zinc is an essential trace element that is involved in many aspects of immune function.  It is essential for the normal development and function of many immune cells.  Zinc lozenges are very useful at the start of a cold, and can be taken in conjunction with Vitamin C.  Just be careful when taking Zinc, not to take it on an empty stomach as it can make you feel nauseous.


My favourite immune herbs

If taken early and often enough, the immune enhancing herbs can stop a cold from developing.  At the very least they can lessen the duration and severity of a cold.  My favourite ones are Andrographis, Echinacea, Elder and Ginger.  They can be taken in tablet form or as liquid extracts.  In order to be effective though, they have to be quality herbs taken at the right dose.


A cold or two over the winter months is to be expected.  However, by taking care of yourself and boosting your immune system, you can make sure they are mild and not debilitating.  Embrace the goodness of winter while it's here.









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