Winter survival guide – don’t let colds and flu in

Cold snaps, endless drizzle, an extra hour in bed at the weekend and Frankenstorms add up to one thing: winter is on the horizon. If colder months usually leave you sniffling and flu-ridden, now is the time to take action against viral infections and bugs. Your digestion, sleep, diet and activity levels all affect your immune system, so what steps can you take to minimize your Kleenex consumption this winter?

1. PROTEIN

You absolutely have to consume good quality protein in winter months to enable your brain to make serotonin and melatonin, the brain hormones that make you feel happy and alert, or sleepy and sluggish. Our brains are finely tuned but dark days can throw this delicate hormone balance out of whack. So why not start the day with some freshly poached eggs, take in a yummy chicken soup for lunch and then cook up a storm in the slow cooker with a chicken thigh curry or a steak casserole.

2. OILS

Whenever I mention oils to a new client the stock response I get is, “well I try to eat mackerel and salmon.” Guess work aint’ gonna’ cut it sista’. Get yourself a good quality omega oil complex and take it, religiously. If there was one thing that you knew you could take which would cut down your risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, dementia, diabetes and would help to keep you looking good for longer you’d take it, right? Well oils are it. In the winter months your brain needs essential fats to help synthesise those essential brain hormones. Your digestive system also needs it to absorb nutrients and eliminate fats and guess what poor digestive health or poor nutrient absorption leads to … bleurghness. Oils are also anti-flammatory for the body, so great for those joint aches and pains and can help you to lose fat.

You still need to consume essential fats in the form of avocados, nuts, seeds and fish for all their vitamin credentials but a steady supply of omega oils will do wonders for your health and your mood.  I’d suggest a complex like Aliment Nutrition’s Omega Oil Plus (which tastes of orange oil not fish) as a minimum, one teaspoon three times a day with food or one teaspoon for children or tots.

3. VITAMIN D

The sunshine vitamin just does not get enough press. As well as managing calcium levels in your bones and warding off conditions like diabetes and cancer, vitamin D is vital for your immune system and several studies have pointed to a vitamin D deficiency as a major risk factor to developing auto-immune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. According to a 2010 study published by the Endocrinology & Metabolism Clinics of North America, vitamin D also helps to control harmful microbes (think bacteria, fungi and viruses) by producing antibiotic substances.

We get most of our vitamin D from the sun but summer 2012 has been a washout. You can get some vitamin D from oily fish but most of us in the UK at least need to consider a supplement, especially if you rarely expose your skin to the sun, are dark skinned, have a very low fat diet (vitamin D is fat soluble) or are very overweight (vitamin D is blood borne so the bigger you are, the more dilute vitamin D becomes).

In our house we use Aliment Nutrition’s Vitamin D Spray and always have it with our oils.

4. GET COLOURFUL WITH YOUR VEGGIES

When salad days are over it can be tempting to pass over veggies in favour of a brown or beige dinner. But now is the time to enjoy harvest fruits and get multi-coloured. Consider a veggie box, Ashlyn’s farm in North Weald do home delivery http://www.ashlynsfarmshop.co.uk/ashlyns-farm-shop/.

Chard, beetroot, squash (and of course pumpkin) and dark greens are all in season at the moment.

5. EXERCISE IN DAYLIGHT

And finally … getting active in the morning, outside is just about the best thing you can do to avoid SAD. The light and the activity will help boost cortisol levels in the morning so you feel alert for the rest of the day and, perhaps more importantly, sleepy at night. Now is the time to get started, before the grey sets in!

How to beat the Winter Blues

Fit School P.E. classes now running every Saturday morning at 8am in Waltham Abbey Gardens. A fun start to the weekend (£25 a month).

Fit School Pilates classes every Monday evening and Tuesday 12-1 in Epping. Pilates for Pregnancy Saturdays 10.15 in Epping and Post Natal 9.30am in Epping.

For information on all classes email fitschoolessex@gmail.com

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