As the weather is getting colder it is so important we make an effort to take care of our heath over the long winter months.
The common cold and flu are more likely to catch us between March and November; the flu otherwise known as influenza is actually based on an Italian phrase translated as “influence of the cold”. The fact that more people suffer with illness in the colder months is thought to be due to more people staying inside, which means it is far easier for a virus to spread.
However, there are many ways that we can prevent illness over winter and even improve our health and wellbeing over the cold months.
Here are my top five tips:
1. Get Active
Try to do some sort of physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day; this activity can flush bacteria out of the lungs and the airways which can reduce the chance of getting a cold or the flu. Exercise also causes beneficial changes in our body’s white blood cells, which make our immune system stronger and better able to fight off virus’ and infections. Try to find an activity that you look forward to, anything that gets your heart rate up and a little sweat dripping down you face. Try a spin class, netball club or even an aqua aerobics to mix things up.
If you struggle to find the energy to train after work, try sipping an espresso before training or try Reflex Nutrition Pre Workout.
2. Get Enough Sleep
A lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on the immune system making it harder for our bodies to fight off colds and illness. Ideally we should aim to sleep for eight hours per night.
Following a pre-bed routine will help get to sleep quickly; try a warm bath with lavender oil, listen to relaxing music, sip on a hot milky drink and switch off the TV and instead have a read of a good book.
3. Scrub UpColds and virus’ are spread through human contact, therefore to avoid these germs spreading it is vital that we focus on washing our hands well and ensuring we wipe down our exercise equipment with anti-bacterial spray too!
4. Get Your 5-a-Day
In the cold months it is less appetizing to tuck into a big salad so it may become harder for us to consume enough vitamin and minerals through food sources.
Try experimenting in the kitchen with different soups to increase vegetable intake; give these a go;
- Carrot, butternut squash and sweet potato
- Broccoli, leek, potato and pea
- Tomato, roasted pepper and spinach
- Baked apples and raisins with natural yoghurt
- Cinnamon grilled peaches on porridge
- Stewed pears with sultanas
5. Avoid Comfort Eating
Colder weather and longer nights can increase our temptation to snuggle under a blanket and eat warming mince pies and drink hot chocolates with cream, however this is not going to beneficial for our health. This means it is important to have healthy food choices in the house, plenty of vegetables – frozen are fine, different fruits, stock the cupboards with lentils, beans, chickpeas and wholemeal rice and pasta and have good quality meats and fish in the fridge and freezer. Having healthy ingredients in the house means we are less likely to give into our cravings and order a takeaway to comfort us.
Some warming comfort meals without the extra calories include;
- Chunky vegetable soup with wholegrain rye bread
- Sheppard’s pie made with lean turkey mince and topped with sweet potato and butternut squash.
- Chicken, mushroom and pesto pasta with spiralised courgette as a pasta substitute