Holistic Tips for Winter Health.

In this first article of 2022 I will explore how to build and maintain general health and wellbeing throughout the winter months. Beginning with looking at the evidence that supports the use of dietary supplements, especially those connected to boosting immunity. For some adjusting diet to include more substantial and nourishing foods in order to stay fit and well as the weather turns colder is natural.  Unfortunately for others this is not the case and the risks associated with poor diet or malnutrition can become very real at this time of year. During autumn and winter the government advises everyone take 10 micrograms  Vitamin D to help regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. To keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy and to support general health (1). Known as the sunshine vitamin it is obtained by the action of sunlight on the skin and from eating oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel. Red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods (some fat spreads and breakfast cereals). Deficiency symptoms = bone deformities in children, and bone pain caused by osteomalacia in adults.  Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and recognised for maintaining healthy cells, skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage and helping to heal wounds. Also helpful for arthritic joint pain (2). A daily supplement may be taken, however good levels of Vit C can easily be obtained by eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables. Deficiency symptoms = Scurvey.

The minerals Selenium and Zinc are known for supporting the immune system (1).  Selenium is found in brazil nuts, fish, meat and eggs. It helps prevent damage to cells and tissues. Taking 350μg or less a day of selenium supplements is unlikely to cause any harm. Zinc is found in meat, shellfish, cheese, bread and wheatgerm. It helps with making new cells and enzymes, processing protein, carbohydrate and fat in food and wound healing. Do not take more than 25mg of zinc supplements a day unless advised by a doctor. Homoeopathic Echinacea is well known for boosting immunity. Lifestyles change alongside the weather with many tending to stay in-doors for longer and take less exercise in the wintertime. Becoming less active has a negative effect on the entire functioning of the body as blood/oxygen must circulate, muscles need to be worked and joints need to move. Weakness and stiffness can be avoided by creating a simple routine of daily stretches or seated exercises in the home. There is a huge amount of help via the intranet and many local yoga/pilates classes are now delivered by zoom. If we do get a sunny day take yourself out- side into the fresh air for a walk. This is good for the body and soul.

Looking after ourselves holistically includes supporting psychological wellbeing. If stressed or anxious take time to rest and reflect. Mindfulness and Meditation are good techniques to learn for support. Low mood can often be lifted by doing things that gives pleasure like a hobby or interest or makes you feel good about yourself.  Professional help can be found, self refer to Counselling, Steps to Wellbeing or contact your GP. It’s always good to remember that Spring is just around the corner and it won’t be long before the days start to get brighter and longer.

(1) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/

(2)Vitamin C May Help to Reduce the Knee’s Arthritic Symptoms. Outcomes Assessment of Nutriceutical Therapy. Umberto Ripani,1Paloma Manzarbeitia-Arroba,2Sandra Guijarro-Leo,2Javier Urrutia-Graña,2 and Alessandra De Masi-De Luca3       MedArch2019Jun;73(3)173-177