I know what you are all thinking! Why I am I talking about winter wellness? Yes you have heard it all before, I am sure, but I want to share other aspects to looking after yourself over the cold winter months.
As I start to write this blog it’s the beginning of July and its sure been a colder than usual July here in Auckland, NZ. We hit a record low of -3 degrees a few days ago, one that we have not had in over 64 years!!
So what are you doing to combat the cold and prevent getting sick?
I will start with the general things that most people turn to –
The flu injection – obviously this is over to you. This is not something that I recommend as I am a full believer in the body dealing with viruses on its own. I personally only refer to the medical side of things when it’s something I cannot deal with naturally. Like I said, this is my own personal opinion and we are all entitled to that :)
Lemon and honey drinks – ah yes, this well-known drink we all turn to when we start getting a sore throat. These are great and absolutely give your body the vitamin C boost it needs to help fight off the incoming cold. There is absolutely not much better than a lemon and honey drink, apart from adding raw ginger and raw turmeric. Ginger is amazing and so underutilized, ginger helps you sweat out the toxins in your body, which is helpful when you have a cold or flu. As a side note, ginger is also good for pain and inflammation and stomach upsets, but I digress…... Turmeric is good for inflammation as well and is an antioxidant. It also helps the body to absorb other antioxidants. Boosting your antioxidant intake can help provide added protection for the body against immune system problems. You don’t necessarily need to have raw ginger and turmeric you can use the powdered variety, you just have to figure out what you like for your taste preference.
Throat lozenge – I always head for Comvita Manuka honey lozenges (made in NZ), but obviously there are many natural lozenges now on the market. OR you may go for the standard medicated Strepsils (which absolutely make me feel sick :(, I don’t know what is in them, but my gosh, I can’t have them)
Vitamin C – yes we get some tablets and suck them as often as we can. These are also great, but do keep in mind there is vitamin C and vitamin C – not all vitamins are equal. It’s best to talk to a naturopath if you can and I can thoroughly recommend Milena from Max Health Store on Rosedale Road, East Coast Bays end. There is always a naturopath in store and they can definitely recommend the right thing for you and the best brand. There is no charge for Milena's help in store. Sorry to say, but most supermarket brands, just don’t cut it.
Other natural remedies – one of my favourites I was put on to via Milena, is Systemwell by Nature’s Way. This stuff is fabulous and I cannot recommend it enough, although I don’t just use it when I feel sick (more on that later).
General pharmaceutical drugs – Codral, Nurofen, cough medicines etc – yes they do the trick and stop that runny nose and help you continue with your day, as long as they are not taken in excess then all good and once again, totally up to you. I will definitely turn to Codral when I absolutely need it. (Not had to for a few years now!)
Usually when we get sick, the only thing we want to do is rest. However, on the 16th of June there was an article in the New Zealand Herald by: Kathleen Alleaume with the headline – “Surprising reason you should exercise when you are sick ”Until now, we had the understanding that our immune system would be compromised as our body recovers post workout — and we could be more susceptible to infection during this time. But the new research has blown away this theory.
In fact, "Evidence now suggests that your immune system remains boosted after exercise — for example we know that exercise can improve your immune response to a flu jab," says study co-author, Dr James Turner.
The researchers believe that the cells are not 'destroyed' (as previously thought), instead the cells migrate to other parts of the body, looking for other infections, such as the lower respiratory tract (chest or lungs), representing an immune boost, making it less likely for infections to flourish.” On top of that Dr. Michael Roizen, MD states “When you begin to show signs of a cold, increase your vitamin C to as much as 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) a day, taken with plenty of water (eight glasses for 4 grams). Although this won't cure colds, it will lessen the severity of the symptoms. For example, when you have a cold and take your C, you may find that you can keep exercising”
Now that makes things interesting and gives you food for thought doesn’t it?
Just like Essentrics can prevent injury, we can also try and help to prevent colds. Here is what I do on a daily basis:
a) I wake up in the morning and have a lemon, ginger and turmeric drink – yes EVERY day. I have started to drink it with a straw of late as lemon is known for removing the enamel off teeth and after years of having a lemon drink every morning I am starting to notice it. Oh by the way, I don’t use normal straws – not good for the environment and all that. I have recently invested in a stainless steel straw, pretty cool actually!
b) I also have vitamin C drink at some stage during the day – yes that’s right a drink, rather than tablets, by drinking vitamin C it absorbs into your body quickly. I use Clinicians but there are various brands again and like I said, talk to a naturopath who is in store as they will direct you to the right thing for you – unlike a pharmacy where most will just sell you what they think is good or what they are getting a bonus for selling or you just buy whats on special and it may not be the best one for you.
c) When the months start to cool, I start taking Nature's Way, Systemwell. So usually around April, I take 1 a day and then build up to 2 a day, I have this with my vitamin C drink, but you don’t have to. When I feel like I might be getting a cold, I up the Systemwell to 2 a day. I usually keep it at 2 a day over the winter months UNLESS I feel like I am coming down with something, so I up the dosage to 3 a day. By the way I am no naturopath, but this is what works for me.
d) Sleep – yes indeed, I must admit I don’t always sleep that well, but sleep is the best thing you can do for your immunity and is definitely aids towards prevention. When I start to feel a bit run down and I don't sleep, I absolutely know the result will end in me getting sick.
This routine I have going on a daily basis has kept me from getting really sick for over 2 years now, so I can vouch for that. But one thing that everyone overlooks is exercise! Yes you heard it, exercise!
Science has proven that exercise can boost your immunity and exercising regularly will definitely help ward off the winter ills. So exercise is a prevention tool to stay fit and healthy over the winter months. If you want to read more, Google it :)
Many of us just want to stay inside near the fire (I totally get that), but that is not supporting your immune system. When I googled how does exercise help your immunity? I got this: “Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are the body's immune system cells that fight disease” I also got “There is evidence that regular exercise, which improves circulation, can boost immunity”
In my opinion, continuing to exercise through winter definitely helps you, even if I do get sick, I am usually only sick for a few days and its very mild, where others I know who do not exercise are down for 4-5 days with a general cold.
So, the moral of the story is – keep on exercising, support your body and don’t give up just because it’s cold and wet outside. Your body will thank you for it!