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Staying healthy during the winter is the same as staying healthy during other seasons. There may be some differences in winter such as a greater chance of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) happening.

Staying well is not a seasonal activity, it is a year-round activity, and if done consistently, will enhance your life and help to make it more fulfilling.

As you already know, winter can be harsh, and with temperatures getting as low as - 45°C, it is important that you stay in the best of health, especially if you have to be working outdoors.

Winter is also the time when there is an increase in flus, colds, coughs and sneezing. These illnesses can be easily spread through touching surfaces and through the air when one sneezes openly. So having a strong immune system will greatly help to protect you from catching any of these sicknesses and others.

These ailments may make you feel very weak and can lead to loss of income as you are not able to attend to work assignments.

Some of these sicknesses may even lead to other illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

Nevertheless, Leroy A. Brown, an organic farmer, consultant and author of the book Why Organic Farming Is Great for Canada will assist you in staying healthy during winter.

1. Eat Organic Food

The simplest part about staying healthy is to eat well. This involves making sure at each meal (that is breakfast, lunch and dinner) you are consuming all the nutrients the body needs, by having a mixture of organic fruits (eg. apples and ground cherry), vegetables (eg. carrots and parsley), and protein (eg. fish and nuts). You may add more flavor to your food by using spices such as turmeric, garlic and ginger.

The immune system which is the ultimate and last defense for the human body, needs nutrients and in sufficient amounts to function well. By extension, the entire human body needs these nutrients as well.

Organic food gives the most nourishment the body needs.

The cheapest way of getting organic food is to grow it yourself. So start and maintain your organic garden.

Some of the nutrients required are vitamins and minerals that are easily received from consuming organic fruits and vegetables such as oranges, lemons, kiwis, carrots, beetroots, lettuces, spinach, broccoli, etc.

Food containing lots of protein helps to maintain a good body weight, as they have low glycemic index, and they maintain blood sugar levels so helping to stop cravings and overeating.

Examples of protein foods are fish, meat, seeds, nuts, legumes and so on.

“The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods by how much they raise blood glucose (sugar) levels compared to a standard food.

The standard food is glucose or white bread.

Why should I eat foods with a low Glycemic Index?

Eating foods with a low Glycemic Index may help you to:

  • Control your blood glucose (sugar) level
  • Control your cholesterol level
  • Control your appetite
  • Lower your risk of developing heart disease
  • Lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes”[1]

2. Exercise

Exercising is the second basic element to staying healthy. This doesn’t mean having to go to a gym or doing rigorous workouts from dvds, but it can be as easy as doing brisk walks, walking up and down stairs, walking your dog, and jogging just to highlight a few.

During winter, exercising can also be shoveling the snow, skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing, etc.

You may do indoor activities such as dancing, push-ups and stretches, among others.

It is said that 15-30 minutes walk before and after dinner can reduce the occurrence of heart diseases, anxiety, depression, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and so on.

You may try abdominal workouts such as bicycle crunches, as they help to develop strong abs and core so assisting to prevent lower back injuries, improve posture and may lead to a flat stomach.

3. Flu Shots – Mine Is Ginger And Garlic

Many persons get their flu shots annually. However, some like me are not fans of flu shots and prefer a more organic approach. So my flu shot for winter is ginger and garlic. They are also very good for sore throat, colds and overall body health. If the taste of ginger and/or garlic is not pleasing, you may add organic honey.

If you are not interested in eating chopped up pieces of raw organic ginger and/or garlic, then you may consume them individually or together as a tea.

To make the tea, simply cut the ginger and/or garlic in small pieces. Put the small pieces in your (favorite) tea or coffee cup and add boiled water to it. Cover the cup and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Then go ahead and enjoy your highly nutritious organic tea.

Additionally, garlic and ginger are known to be natural antibiotics.

4. Wash Hands Consistently

I am sure you have heard before to wash your hands before you eat. This helps to protect you from getting germs which can make you sick.

Washing your hands is the same practice during winter, except you may want to wash your hands more often, and use hand sanitizer as you touch public door knobs, use public washrooms, touch public surfaces, etc.

This is because many individuals may sneeze or cough in their hands, and then use these same hands to open doors, touch surfaces, and so on.

So wash your hands consistently and as often as deemed necessary.

5. Drink Water, Organic Milk, Juices and Smoothies

Drinking water daily and regularly should not come to you as a surprise. It has been said often and is very important for the body.

Drinking water helps to keep you healthy and assist with digestion. As heaters in the house or building dehydrate the body when turned on, drinking water is a great way to put back the water your body has lost.

Fresh organic juices and smoothies are a great way to go, especially for those who do not like pure water.

Try to make your fresh organic juices and smoothies using organic fruits and vegetables from your own organic garden, or buy directly from organic farmers such as Leroy A. Brown from Cariporter Organic Farm.

If you rely on juices and smoothies that are certified organic in the stores, it would be nice to get the ones that do not have preservatives or sugar in them. The organic fruits are enough to add sweetness to the juices.

Avoid non-organic juices and smoothies as much as possible as they are known to have high sugar content, have artificial ingredients, preservatives and additives.

All freshly made organic juices and smoothies are great for your overall health. However, it is written that some may have specific functions as follows:

_Ginger juices are good for circulation, i.e. they help in pumping blood around the body;

_Chamomile juices are good for your nerves, i.e. they help to reduce stress;

_Green juices (eg. green kale, cucumber, parsley and water put through a juicer) are

good as antioxidants (i.e. substances that help to prevent cells in the human body from

damaging) ;

_And orange juices (or rosehip juices) are good for vitamins such as vitamin C.

Organic milk is another great liquid and is good for bone development and helps to prevent osteoporosis, as it is known as a good source for calcium.

Apart from homemade juices and smoothies in my house, there is always water and organic milk in my fridge.

6. Get Some Sleep/Rest

On many occasions, individuals forget that getting some “shut eye” is an important part of staying healthy. This is because, it is the time the body needs to recharge and repair itself.

Lack of sleep/rest can have a negative impact on the immune system, and so make you more susceptible to colds, flus and other illnesses.

So please get some sleep and the right amount that the body needs, whether it is 6hrs, 8hrs, etc.

Even if you are not able to fall asleep, just lying on your back can ensure your body is getting some rest.

Additionally, you may use herbal teas to help you to unwind, relax and go to sleep. Examples of herbal teas that can be used are lemon balm, chamomile, peppermint and sage.

7. Go Home To Your Spa

Yes you heard me correctly, GO HOME TO YOUR SPA!

Your home is also part of your being healthy, and you can enhance this by turning it into a spa.

How do you do this?

You do this by simply making your home relaxing, inviting, warm, cozy and happy for you. You can do this by:

  • Taking a break from computers, telephone and the television, and chill out and relax, as stress can cause the immune system to malfunction so making you vulnerable to colds, flus and other illnesses.
  • Ensure you are warm at home by wearing clothes that helps to maintain body temperature such as sweaters, especially if you do not want to turn up the thermostat any further which may increase your hydro/electricity bill.
  • Have a warm bath and exfoliate your skin while doing so.

In exfoliating your skin, try to use a natural bristle brush or sea sponge as “The gentle action, starting from your feet and hands and moving inward in a circular motion, not only exfoliates dead skin and smooths cellulite, but it also releases toxins from your lymphatic system, the body’s oxygen and nutrient highway.”[2]

  • Play soft or classical music that helps the mind to unwind, and may put you in a good mood.
  • Have a massage from your spouse that makes your muscles less tense while building intimacy.
  • Moisture your skin as it usually dries very quickly during winter. Try using virgin coconut oil and/or shea butter.

8. Prevent Winter Blues or SAD

You may realize that your mood may decline as there is less and less sunlight during the winter, which may lead to you feeling the “winter blues” or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.”[3]

“In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. However, some people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.

Major depression

Seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons. So symptoms of major depression may be part of SAD, such as:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

Spring and summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

  • Depression
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Agitation or anxiety

Seasonal changes in bipolar disorder

In some people with bipolar disorder, spring and summer can bring on symptoms of mania or a less intense form of mania (hypomania), and fall and winter can be a time of depression.

When to see a doctor

It's normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can't get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.”[4]

There are three (3) ways of dealing with the winter blues or SAD, - getting sufficient vitamin D, exercise and light therapy.

Because the human body can get vitamin D naturally during sunlight, when there is little or no sunlight during winter, the body may become deficient in vitamin D. So eating healthy, balanced organic food can help to ensure there is enough vitamin D for the body.

There may be times when you will have to use supplements with vitamin D-3.

Exercise is the same as discussed in no. 2. So it is not anything new, neither are there any specific workouts for “winter blues” or SAD. However, physical workout such as walking, jogging and aerobics seem to work well.

Light therapy involves natural and/or improvised light. Natural means going outside to get as much sunlight as possible. Improvised light means buying special lights that can be used in the house so as to mimic sunlight.

Additionally, “… sunlight increases levels of serotonin and also works to suppress melatonin, …”[5]

Serotonin helps to maintain mood balance, and melatonin assist in controlling sleep and wake cycles.

9. Change Your Toothbrush

It has always been recommended to change your toothbrush regularly such as every three (3) months, but during winter this may have to happen a lot sooner and maybe more frequent.

This is because germs may still be in your current/old toothbrush after having the cold, flu, mouth infection, sore throat, tooth decay, etc. So using a new toothbrush will help to prevent re-infection.

10. Dress Warmly

Dressing warmly during winter is very important. It helps to prevent flus, colds and hypothermia just to highlight a few.

“Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia (hi-poe-THUR-me-uh) occurs as your body temperature passes below 95 F (35 C).

When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs cannot work normally. Left untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and to death.

Hypothermia is most often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in a cold body of water. Primary treatments for hypothermia are methods to warm the body back to a normal temperature.”[6]

So wear warm clothes (such as sweaters, winter jackets, thermal garments, etc.) during winter.

11. Prevent Falls And Injuries

Being sick can be an unpleasant feeling, so having a fall and getting injured may be a more unhappy experience. So prevent yourself from falling and getting injured.

You may do this in three ways:

  • Do not walk on slippery surfaces such as ice.
  • Clean the snow from walkways as often as possible, so as to reduce the ability for ice to form below it.
  • Use ice melter especially for very cold temperatures such as -45°C, because ice salts tend not to work well when temperatures are below -10°C. Ice salts also tend to leave a mess when used, and can make it difficult for individuals to walk, ride and drive.

Ice melters on the other hand, continue to work well below zero, and melts the ice without leaving a lot of mess behind (compared to ice salts). Thus ice melters greatly reduce the chance of slipping, falling and injuring yourself.

Essentially, try not to get injured at all. For your injury may make you immobile, and can lead to having low energy levels, boredom and SAD.

If you are too busy or not able to shovel or snow blow your own driveway and walkways, then try to get your neighbor(s) to assist you, or get professional help such as Cariporter Winter Snow Services.

12. Stay Connected

Stay connected with friends and family during winter. Do not be glued to the coach and locked away inside.

It nice to go out, meet friends or just meet up with friends over coffee.

Socializing and staying connected may help to reduce stress and improves your mood.


13. Invest In Your Health Tax Free

In Canada and the United States of America (USA), there is a way to invest in your health tax free called the health savings account (HSA).

“A health savings account allows you to put money aside pre-tax to be used throughout the year on allowable health care needs. HSAs are an option for people who have enrolled in a high deductible health care plan, to allow them to more easily pay for their expenses. Developed to help reduce the cost of health care both for companies and for individuals, HSAs have been in use since 2003.”[7]

You may find out more about HSA in Canada HERE and in the USA HERE.

[1] http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet-nutrition/the-glycemic-index

[2] www.canadianliving.com/health/mind_and_spint/12_ways_to_stay_healthy_this_christmas.php

[3] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

[4] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20021047

[5] www.health.com/health/gallery/O,,20447948_8,00html

[6] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothermia/basics/definition/con-20020453

[7] https://www.canadainsuranceplan.ca/What%20Is%20A%20Health%20Savings%20Account.php