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Wellness tips to take the chill out of winter

Bring out the cosy duvet and fuzzy bed socks: winter is here. As the sun sets earlier and the temperatures drop, many of us soothe ourselves with unhealthy comfort foods and hibernate. But we aren’t bears that check out until spring: we humans need to keep our bodies moving and nourished daily. There are simple things we can do to keep moving and get the right nutrients to boost immunity and moods this season.

WINTER
When our body temperatures drop, eating and drinking habits change. There’s a biological reason for this: we will eat more to boost our body temperature and produce inner heat. You may find when you exercise outdoors in winter and shiver, you race to find warm food. We burn up to 400 calories by shivering. So we naturally want to eat more in winter, but our food choices make the difference between extra kilos and fitting into summer swimwear. The opposite of this is our sense of thirst decreases in winter because we aren’t sweating as regularly, so we tend to drink less and become dehydrated. We may feel more fatigued and experience mind fog from loss of fluids.

Moods in winter may be affected by seasonal affective disorder, a type of seasonal mood, in which less sunshine contributes to low moods and lethargy. We may not be getting enough of the hormone vitamin D which comes mainly from the sun. Optimal vitamin D levels are important for functions including moods, immunity, hormone production, strong bones and muscle recovery. Early nights mean less time spent outdoors in the sunshine in winter, which may leave us feeling down, so we tend to boost moods with alcohol, caffeine and junk foods. While these provide momentary ‘pick me ups’, they do not provide sustained energy and mood support.

Given our bodies crave more calories in darker months, healthy winter foods could include:
Hearty soups and stews, made with a variety of vegetables. By filling up on a variety of vegetables, we feel fuller for longer. Try turkey, beef or vegetarian chili for a satisfying dish.
Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits for extra immune-boosting benefits. Grapefruit and mandarins are great winter choices, which can be juiced or added to smoothies, or even squeezed into hot mugs of water and sipped for an invigorating start to the day.
Healthy fats, such as olive or avocado oil drizzled on vegetables, or white fish or salmon steamed and topped with butter and herbs with steamed veggies on the side. Nuts, boiled eggs and seeds are healthy snacks for in between meals. Omega 3 from oil, fish and nuts help supports our brains, hearts and may even help deter winter dry skin and eczema.
Root vegetables like kumara, celeriac, garlic, onion, parsnips, beets, carrots and baby potatoes. These ground-based veggies are full of fibre, antioxidants, vitamin C, B and A for immune system support.
WINTERBecause we have less thirst, winter drinks could include:
Fresh slices of ginger or lemon in hot water with a teaspoon of manuka honey for vitamin C and antibacterial properties, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for metabolism boost. Ginger is also wonderful for our circulation.
Hot turmeric milk – with almond and coconut milk, a dash of turmeric, and a pinch of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – is a body warming drink with antioxidant properties. In colder months, joints and arthritis may feel stiffer, but turmeric and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties and may help make joints more mobile.
Dried rosehip and hibiscus tea contains flavonoids, antioxidants and high levels of vitamin C, making this an excellent choice for immunity support.

Winter nutritional supplements recommended:
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Vitamin D, 5000 IUD daily is my recommendation for the winter months, due to the lack of skin exposure to sun. This is important for everyone, but particularly critical for darker skin as there is a tendency to absorb less vitamin D naturally from the sun with more melanin pigment in the skin.

If not consuming fatty fish at least twice weekly, 2000mg of pure omega 3 fish oil is recommended for its potential boost to brain, heart and skin health in winter. Topical application of plant or mineral-based skincare helps to restore moisture due to the impact of dry air from heaters.
Zinc, vitamin C, astralagus and echinacea can all be helpful immune supporting nutrients.

Winter exercise tips include:
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If getting outside, layers of clothing to keep body heat in and remove as you warm up. Amazingly our bodies can heat up to tropical level by wearing the right clothing during aerobic exercise even in the coldest weather.

Interval training is a good option to help contribute to weight loss and boosting testosterone for men. This means jogging at a good pace to get the heart moving for 1 minute, then walking at a moderate pace for 3 minutes. Repeat three times. Incorporate a 10-minute warm up and cool down of gentle walking to this 30-minute total programme. Try this 3 non-consecutive times weekly.
If you prefer to be active inside, buy a yoga mat and search on YouTube for free workouts, or seek out a good set of weights you can store in the back bedroom or garage and do a 30-minute resistance set. Music motivated? Turn up some of your favourite beats and boogie for a good 20-30 minutes straight to burn some serious calories or find your local Zumba class for a more social time.
For best results, aim for 4-5 times weekly exercise of 30 minutes’ duration.
Don’t forget if you are about to do aerobic exercise, drink two glasses of water prior to activity and one glass just after to keep hydration in check.

Combine the above tips with 8 hours of sleep nightly, warm baths to support circulation, hot stone massages and saunas, daily pet cuddles, and regular 15-minute mindfulness/meditation practice, and you are on your way to resisting hibernation and choosing the most proactive, healthy winter yet. Keep warm and enjoy!

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WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE ALLERGIES ?

What do I do if I have allergies?

allergy-Allergies are a major problem in the modern world. Interestingly they are less recorded in history and primitive cultures so either they were not considered serious medical problems or the modern environment has spawned more allergies in more people. Statistically in medicine we think it is the latter because younger people are now experiencing more allergies than their parents or grandparents.

By the time we are born we have been exposed to thousands of chemicals that would be unnatural to us if we lived in the wild.

Children in cities no longer play outside in the dirt on a regular basis so their immune systems do not develop the robustness of previous generations.

In the home too we have so many unnecessary chemical-based disinfectants and cleaners that make our environment too sterile so the immune system does not rise to the challenge of fighting infection. At times it becomes over-active in reacting to substances that would not normally cause an immune response.

So what is an allergy?

allergy-An allergy is an inappropriate immune response to a substance. That substance can with be organic or inorganic. The response may be to a single substance, a range of similar substances or in some cases people develop multiple allergies to many substances.

Some of the biggest reactions today are to medication that frequently result in people being admitted to hospital. This is why more people are turning to natural remedies. Reactions of course are highly individual and no two people are exactly the same, even twins.

What are the common symptoms of allergies?

• Skin rashes or hives

• Watering eyes

• Runny nose

• Shortness of breath

• Closing of the throat (anaphylaxis)

• Stomach ache

• Diarrhoea

• Numbness

• Sweating or shivering

• Dizziness or fainting

• Alteration of vision or hearing

• Fainting or drowsiness

• Headaches or hyper-alertness

• Strange behaviour or psychosis

You may know what triggers your allergies or you may have allergic reactions and not know what you are allergic to, which can prove very frustrating.

Allergies can also start at any time of your life and sometimes to something that you may have not been allergic to before, for reasons not known.

It is very important to start tracking down what you are allergic to.

This can only be done by careful eliminating things from your life and seeing what happens while recording the results. It is import to be scientific about this process so you can unravel the puzzle, whether it be food, chemicals, dust, smells or even certain kinds of animals.

There are various kinds of allergy tests which can be useful but you may test positive to a substance in the test and it simply does not bother you and you get no reaction.

The only true way to manage an allergy is to know the allergens.

It is important to see a health professional who can help you and not just struggle on your own.

So what can you do if you have an allergy?

• Sooth skin rashes or hives with Aloe Vera

• Work on identifying the allergens in conjunction with a health professional, such as a naturopath

• Do the very best you can to eliminate those allergens from your diet and life

• If you experience anaphylaxis you should carry an epipen (adrenaline) with you at all times

• If you experience an anaphylactic episode, get urgent medical help

• Wear an allergy bracelet if you are anaphylactic

• Be clear with other people about what you are allergic to: just tell them

• Under a healthcare professional, you may try a desensitisation program

• Herbs and medications can reduce allergic reactions

• Avoid stress as it promotes allergies