How to stay happy and healthy during the winter months

Healthcare|January 20, 2020

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Many of us fear the winter season, particularly in London. We are all familiar with the self-conscious guilt that having a coughing fit on the central line brings. We dread the warm, delirious hours spent ill at work, wishing we were in bed. Luckily there are measures you can take to reduce the chances of falling ill this winter, as well as preventing other unwelcome winter symptoms. Our bodies are put to the test during winter. Nevertheless, beating winter fatigue, fighting illness, dry skin and low mood is possible with the correct measures.

Fighting illness

It’s good to have a balanced diet throughout the year with enough varied fruits, vegetables and legumes. These foods help us intake sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals needed for healthy body functioning. We tend to gain weight in the winter and eat more carbohydrate heavy ‘comfort foods’. But this intuitive eating doesn’t necessarily provide us the extra nutrients we need in winter. We often think that taking high doses of vitamin C supplements will stop them catching the flu. However, there’s little evidence to support this. Nonetheless, we still need enough vitamin C in our diet to maintain a healthy immune system. The NHS suggests 40 mg a day, (there are 72mg in one potato, and 51mg in one small orange). According to the NHS, taking zinc supplements within a day of symptoms beginning can reduce the severity and duration of common cold symptoms. There is also some (although limited) research claiming echinacea can prevent and reduce common cold symptoms. Our gut contains a large proportion of our immune defences along its mucosal lining. We can keep our gut healthy by consuming probiotic foods with good bacteria such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi. Studies suggest that garlic contains antioxidant, anti-microbial properties, beneficial for the immune system. If you suffer from dry skin or eyes in the winter due to weather conditions, try including more foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. These include fish, flax seeds, hemp and walnuts which are good for skin and hair.

Low mood

Many of us suffer from low moods during the winter months. Researchers have put this down to reduced hours of sunlight affecting our levels of serotonin, melatonin, and vitamin D. There are a few ways to reduce this effect. If your mood is particularly low during the winter season, it could be possible you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), in which case it may be necessary to consult a doctor. Sufferers of SAD are often prescribed light therapy, recently thought to increase production of serotonin and vitamin D.
To stay healthy during the winter, Vitamin D is an important micronutrient for numerous reasons. Not only is vitamin D thought to be linked to low mood, but also is considered to make people less susceptible to infection of illness. If you suffer from sore joints or muscles during winter, vitamin D may relieve this too. Foods with high levels of vitamin D include oily fish like salmon and mackerel, red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods including fat spreads, fortified cereals and milks. We should try to get all the nutrients we need from our diet according to the NHS. Studies show that many supplements may have little to no effect on the average person. However, it is recommended by The Department of Health that you should take a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement during winter.

Beating fatigue

Many feel more tired during the winter months than usual due to shorter days. To reduce the effects of this, you should avoid eating and drinking alcohol late at night, as this has been said to disrupt melatonin and human growth hormone (HGH). You should also avoid caffeine consumption after 3-4 in the afternoon.

Get the care you need during the winter

Qured offers a variety of services to help keep you at your best this winter. You can Download the Qured app, call us on +44 (0)333 016 4411, or book online to get fast private care in your home, office, or even a hotel room. Qured’s experienced private doctors are available 7 days a week, from 08:30am to 10:00pm, and can be with you in as little as 2 hours.

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