Winter is coming: here’s how to stay well
Winter is coming and along with cold, damp short days it is no surprise that many animals hibernate during this season and sleep it away. In contrast many of us in our modern day city-based life almost pretend the seasons don’t matter at all; still trying to maintain the same routine tuning out weather and seasonal changes; rushing around doing everything the same.
Ignoring the seasonal rhythms, often means that many of us forget the changing environmental conditions that surround us have an impact on our wellbeing. It is more than just woollies, scarves and boots for the winter, but many of us try to eat the same foods throughout the year; ignoring seasonal fare, refusing to take extra precautions for wellness during winter. The naturopathic way is to look at our lives as a whole; and find the parts we need to work on; food, lifestyle, but one of the most overlooked areas involves our environment and how this impact on our health.
Sinus problems, yeast infections, allergies, depression and respiratory problems have become a recognised problem among families that live in homes that are not well designed, insulated or heated well for winter. Many homes often have condensation and mould problems. If you see mould in your house, then this problem could be affecting your health. Getting rid of mould and damp and improving heating has to be a priority over winter to stay well. A solution of 2mls of clove oil in a spray bottle with litre water, (a cheap non-toxic mould solution), wiping the problem surface is one way to get rid of mould. Using a dehumidifier and keeping bathroom doors closed can help minimize the moisture and mould too.
Choose foods that are seasonal. Nature provides us with healthiest of food for each season and it is cheaper to buy fresh, colourful fruit and vegetables that are in season. Autumn provides an abundance of feijoas, carrots, kumara, garlic, beetroots, leeks, and broccoli. Winter brings turnips, grapefruit, oranges, cauliflower and silver beet. The way we cook can add warmth to our bodies, traditionally cooking in cold climates is low and slow… such as soups, casseroles and stews. Raw food is kept to minimum during winter. The Crockpot can be ideal way to have a nourishing hot warming meal, when time is limited and everyone comes home wanting something wholesome to eat.
Remember culinary herbs and spices to give added flavour, have valuable nutrients to those winter meals with the additional benefit of helping overall health and wellbeing. Winter favourites include; garlic, ginger, rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, cloves, turmeric, chilli and cinnamon.
Drinking cold water on cold days often isn’t as appealing, as in summer, but just as important to maintain your fluid intake. Hot herbal teas often provide many benefits including antioxidants if cold water doesn’t appeal. Hibiscus is often used as a base for many fruit teas, and is a great source of Vitamin C. Chai teas can also be added into your winter day to add extra antioxidants as well as a sense of warmth and spiciness.
Often no matter how careful we are, the cold, flu, sniffles and coughs sneak-up and catch us, especially if you are stressed or tired. But if you are sick, stay home. Rest and sleep are important for your body’s recovery and no one else wants your bugs. Immunity support supplements can be taken throughout winter to help your resistance against the common winter chills. Alternatively you can take them on the onset of cold symptoms to help with recovery. My favourite winter supplements include; Cod Liver Oil, Echinacea, Vitamin C, Garlic, Olive Leaf and Probiotics.
You don’t need to go into hibernation during winter, but do tune into the winter season, prepare, check that your environment is as dry, healthy and warm as it can be, choose winter warming foods, keep hydrated and consider immune protecting supplements that help strengthen and support your system during this time.
By Red Seal Naturopath Julie Fergusson
Credit: NEXT Magazine