6 ways to stay healthy this winter
Snuggly jumpers, crisp, magical mornings, and the joy of warming porridge. Winter can be a rewarding season. Why not embrace it? You can get more from the long winter months by giving your body what it needs to help you feel well. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of your everyday health.
Get a sunny bill of health with vitamin D
With weaker sunrays and shorter daylight hours, it can be a challenge to get enough vitamin D from the sun in winter. As a result, around one in five people are low in vitamin D. Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin. It helps keep our bones healthy and strong. Having low levels of vitamin D can lead to vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to rickets and bone deformities like osteoporosis.
You can make sure you're getting some of the recommended amount by regularly eating some red meat, oily fish, liver, egg yolks, and fortified cereals. If you're avoiding an animal-based diet, you can always take vitamin D pills.
Tip: Balance your diet with sardines, salmon, mackerel, liver, beef, and eggs, or take vitamin D pills.
Get plenty of sleep
Winter is the time for many animals to hibernate -this may not seem a bad idea for us too! Sleep helps your immune system stay strong which is partly why we want to sleep so much if we're ill. The winter months are darker which also makes us feel sleepy, due to the reduced amount of sunlight. This makes the brain produce more melatonin, a hormone which makes us sleepy.
Tip: Take it a little easier this winter with gentler exercise, or if you feel rundown, give yourself a rest instead.
Ward off germs by washing your hands
Germs are everywhere, especially during colder seasons. One of the most effective ways to help you stay well this winter is to wash your hands after going to the toilet, before you handle food, and after blowing your nose, for example. This helps to remove germs and reduce the spread of disease and infection.
Tip: Put a sign up to remind both children and adults to wash their hands after going to the toilet. It's important for children to learn the habit of hand washing as soon as possible, so they can work it into a healthy routine as they grow up.
Stay strong with fruit and veg
Getting the fibre, vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs is crucial to staying well and reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Getting your 5-a-day is a good start. You don't need to limit yourself to chomping through raw carrots, steamed broccoli and boiled potatoes - there are so many interesting ways to get your 5-a-day. Try dried fruit like apricots (though limit to one serving a day as high in sugar), frozen fruit or veg like berries and soya beans, canned like chopped tomatoes, or juiced such as banana smoothies.
Tip: Try adding tasty spices or herbs to stir-fried or roast vegetables. It'll perk them up if you find them bland!
Eat more Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps support your immune system, particularly in the winter or when you're ill. As well as helping your bones, muscles and blood vessels stay strong, its job is to neutralise damage from free radicals, which are the result of diseases, allergies, injuries, viruses and autoimmune conditions. So if you eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin C, you may notice you have fewer or shorter illnesses.
Tip: have a grapefruit for breakfast, an orange as a midmorning snack each day, or a quick squeeze of lemon in your water or cup of tea.
Keep well with a Flu Shot
When winter arrives you may notice a lot more coughing and sneezing around you. This is how the highly infectious flu virus can spread from person to person. Although anybody can get flu, some people are more susceptible than others, including people over 65, pregnant women, and people with a serious medical condition like diabetes, kidney disease or asthma. Flu can cause severer illness or even lead to death in those who are most vulnerable.
Tip: If you're worried of being at risk of flu, speak to your GP or pharmacist for advice. They'll be able to point you in the right direction and ensure you stay healthy this winter.