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Prepare Your Body For Winter

Make a Health Plan of Action

Ample sunshine, a few hot days, some rain - but no major weather events, 2015 provided a blend of summer days everyone could enjoy.  As the days get gradually shorter and the signs of fall appear, we hardy Canadians know we need to plan for the upcoming winter.  Forecasters have consulted their magic 8 ball and are predicting a milder winter than last year.  Remembering aching muscles from moving snow mountains, bitter cold, frozen pipes, and the ice storms of two years ago, it is with great trepidation that we prepare.  

Shrubbery is wrapped, summer toys are put away, snow tires installed.  Hats, mitts, boots, mitts, scarves, and more mitts are laundered for use.  But are YOU ready?  Most people neglect preparing themselves both mentally and physically for the arduous tasks a Canadian winter can bring.

Being bundled up indoors fending off colds and flu combined with short cold days can be stressful and bring on a bout of the winter blues, leaving you SAD.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to seasonal changes.  For most people symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you moody.

Logically, incidents of SAD should be higher in Nordic countries because they experience more extreme cold and darkness than we do.  Yet the rate of SAD in these countries is significantly lower than ours.  Studies have shown this is attributable to their diets.  Typically the Nordic diet is much higher in fish (and fish oil), vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (from fruits, berries, vegetables, legumes and seeds).  Reduced or even excluded are dairy, red meat, sugary and refined foods.  Dietary changes can be difficult, especially if they are drastic.  For those of us not prepared to eat this way we can take daily supplements of fish oil (I take 8000mg), a high quality, sugar-free multi-vitamin (not gummie or chewable), sublingual active vitamin B12 (I take 2000-5000mcg) and liquid greens (chlorophyll).

In summer we are all conscious of the need to drink to replace fluids lost as sweat, especially during heat waves.  Many forget that winter weather is dry and can be just as dehydrating. It is important to be well-hydrated during winter to stay energized, vibrant and to allow proper elimination.  To keep your water interesting, periodically add some fresh lemon juice or liquid greens.

Bundling up, cranking the heat (in our cars, houses and work) and hibernating can be comforting against winter’s cold bite.  Unfortunately this environment is also very comfortable for pathogens (cold and influenza viruses, Rhinovirus, etc.).  Stick it to the viruses and get outdoors. Stay active and embrace winter.  I am not the most active person but there is no feeling quite like getting sub-zero exercise. The best way of doing this is to find suitable winter activities equivalent to your favourite summer ones. This winter I plan to dawn the balaclava and shades when I take my friend up on the offer to teach me to snowboard.  Yes, I’ll fall (a lot) and add some black and blue to my pasty white, but I will get the blood pumping and release endorphins which should help me laugh at myself.

It is inevitable that those around you (friends, family, and colleagues) will succumb to the viruses and get sick.  Make sure you have a plan of action to keep yourself healthy and reduce your risk. My action plan has a couple of parts. 

Hygiene – Most viruses are transmitted from person to person or person to object to person.   Exercise good hygiene and wash your hands with soap and water.  Avoid sanitizer (unless there is no soap and water) as it dries your hands, making them more susceptible to infection!  Sneeze and cough into tissue or your elbow (not on me) and wash afterwards. 

Super Strength Oil of Oregano – I take one drop daily throughout fall and winter.  As soon as someone around me gets sick, I start taking 3 drops each day until the close threat is gone, then I go back to one drop a day.

Vitamin C – I avoid juice as it is too high in sugar.  Instead, eat vitamin rich foods (oranges, grapefruit, limes, mango, kiwi, peppers) and take an unsweetened supplement (2000mg) daily.

Vitamin D – We just can't get enough sunshine!  Even in the summer our bodies can’t make enough vitamin D to stay healthy.  We need supplements so I try to go as pure and clean as possible. This year I will be taking 100% organic vitamin D to avoid contamination or quality issues.  I use 2000-5000IU daily, depending on how I feel.  

Ginger – Ginger is a mainstay in my home and fresh is always in the refrigerator.  This winter try some fresh ginger tea.  Simply boil water, remove from heat and add about 1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger per cup of water.  Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes then enjoy.  Don’t remove the ginger as it will get slightly stronger (and better tasting) as you drink. 

Winter can test our faculties both physically (remember wind chill?) and mentally.  Fortify your homes and stock your shelves so you are ready to embrace Old Man Winter and Jack Frost and melt their cold hearts!