Well the temperature has finally dropped in Perth, and Winter appears to have set in at last. While it’s definitely harder to get out of bed in the mornings, it seems to be getting harder to keep colds and flus away. Are you struggling with the sniffles, and noticing more and more people missing school and work, staying home sick?
Here are a few hints to help you and your family stay healthy this winter:
It’s easy to put on a few kilos during the cold winter months – it’s easy to go for a hearty meal of comfort food in preference to the lighter summer salads. But that doesn’t mean you have to increase the calories while you do it.
Get the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables for the day by starting a meal with a nice warm vegetable-based soup. Adding legumes (naturally low in fat and high in protein and filling fibre) will satisfy your hunger. Be careful adding too much of that delicious garlic bread that goes so well with soup.
Apples are packed with soluble fibre, particularly pectin, which acts like a sponge helping to prevent cholesterol reabsorption. They also contain vitamin C, which has been proven to reduce the length and severity of the common cold. And because they are pretty low in calories, apples are a great choice when you need an easy, grab-and-go snack.
Keep hydrated with plenty of water – try warm water or green tea during this cold weather.
Ensure your immune system is fighting fit! Add some freshly crushed garlic to your stir-fries, stews or pasta sauces.
Wash your hands frequently with warm water and a good antibacterial soap. Germs are passed around by touch very easily – think of all those germs on the handrails on the bus and train this morning! Use a hand sanitiser when you can’t get to a tap.
Teach your children the importance of good manners by not coughing or sneezing into the open air around others.
Don’t use the cold as an excuse to hibernate in front of the tv. Keeping active helps boost your mood and control your weight. It is recommended to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Take a brisk walk to stay warm, or join a class at your local gym – a karate class is great for getting the heart rate up.
Don’t worry about catching a cold because you are out and about – it’s one of the best things you can do to avoid one – getting out can even boost your immune system! After all, colds and flu are caused by viruses which spread more easily when people are in close proximity.
Sleep is vital for your emotional health and physical wellbeing, and is so important for your body to recover and rejuvenate from an exhausting day. Getting run down is one of the easiest ways for viruses to gain the strength to attack your body, so get a sleep routine in place – try to aim for the same sort of bedtime and waking time every day.
To help get a good night’s sleep, avoid stimulants like caffeine, cigarette smoke and alcohol – the first two can prevent you from getting to sleep, while too much alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle, robbing you of restful sleep so you might awaken feeling like you haven’t slept at all.
Turn off the tv, tablets and other communication devices two hours before sleep time. Recent studies have shown that self-luminous backlit displays can cause melatonin levels to drop, making it much harder to fall asleep. Read a book in bed instead.
We all need different amounts of sleep, but aim for at least 7 – 9 hours sleep every night so you’re ready to hit the ground running the next morning.
Get some sunshine
The winter weather has probably reduced the amount of sun you get each day, so make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D with some natural sunlight. The action of sunlight on our skin provides around 90 per cent of our vitamin D intake, so you may need to consider supplements if you can’t get out at all during the Winter months.
Make sure your body is getting the right amounts of essential vitamins and minerals to keep it in its best shape. Look for a good quality multi-mineral and mega antioxidant, and of course fish oil is beneficial for everyone – omega-3 fatty acids support a healthy heart, joints, eyes and brain.