Here are a few simple things you can start doing now to ensure you stay healthier
over the winter.
- Get sunlight – start building your Vitamin D stores in the Spring and all through the summer. Get as much sun (within moderation) on a regular and consistent basis. Make a concerted effort to get into the sun and fresh air every single day, even on cloudy days. In Canada, we convert very little sunlight into Vitamin D during the Fall and Winter months. Low Vitamin D is a major cause of illness in the winter because that is when our Vitamin D stores from the summer have run out.
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Not only is sleep extremely restorative, but it is also anti-aging. It makes you look and feel younger. If you have children, they need more sleep than you. Parents that keep their kids on an adult schedule (bed after 9pm) are not doing their child any favors. Not only does it weaken their immune system, but it also delays them developmentally. Children 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours in 24 hours . Teens 13-18: 8-10 hours per night. 18-60 years old: 7+ hours/night. 60+: 7-9 hours/night (but seldom does this happen)
- Eat your veggies – load up on the best seasonal fruits and veggies now when you can get them fresh. Aim to eat the equivalent of a huge, heaping plate of veggies and fruit every single day. Note – if you have weight issues, focus more on veggies than fruit. If you are trying to keep sugar ingestion lower, then stick with berries like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries etc. Think of “Eating the Rainbow” – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, ultraviolet (white). There are fruits and vegetables with all these colours – aim to consume all the colours over the week. A wide variety of foods guarantees success.
Take Vitamins only if you need to – we should be able to get all we require from a
healthy, balanced, and varied diet. But very often we do not. Before you just fill your
medicine cabinet with a dozen supplements it is important to do some research and
talk to a nutritionist. Unfortunately, most doctors do not get enough training on this to
help you, so seek out a nutritionist or dietitian.
The most important immune building supplements are Vitamins A, C, D, K and the minerals Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, and Selenium. We also need glutamine a protein found mostly in chicken and fish. If you are vegetarian then you need to ensure you are eating a wide variety of foods like lentils, beans, cabbage, spinach, beets, and peas. Not surprisingly these foods are often disliked by children, so quality chicken, wild caught fish, grass fed beef and pastured pork are great sources of protein, each offering a different nutrient profile.
With all that said, there is no harm in taking a multivitamin. You could take it every
other day and still reap the benefits.
Ingest Probiotics – fermented foods are a fantastic way to populate the gut with healthy bacteria. We have good bacteria in and on our body which help fight off illness. If the bad bacteria load becomes too high, then we get ill or start showing early
signs of illness. Sauerkraut, Kimchi, pickled foods, Kombucha, kefir, and quality grass- fed yogurt are becoming readily available. You may also want to consider ingesting a probiotic, especially if you have any stomach/gut issues