As the weather starts to cool, the days get shorter and we have less exposure to the sun it’s important to change our routines and to add some support to make sure we get the necessary nutrients to tide us over autumn and winter.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be the reason why some people have a lower mood when the weather is grey and cold.
Viruses and bacteria are more prevalent because they thrive for longer when the weather is cold so protecting ourselves and keeping our immune systems healthy is vital to keep us well and strong over the coming months.
Here are five ways to give your body the best chance of staying healthy as the seasons change:
Ensure Adequate Vitamin D intake
A surprising number of people are deficient in vitamin D even though we live in a sunny climate. When the weather is cooler, we have less exposure to the sun which means we absorb less from the sun. Vitamin D is important for a healthy immune system as well as for hormonal wellbeing and mood support. It is very helpful to use to protect us against colds and flus.
Exercise to warm your body
When the weather is cooler, we need to exercise to keep our bodies warm. Doing a proper warm-up and stretches is more important during colder months. Exercise is also good to regulate mood and metabolism.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, and spicy foods
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and nutrients that provide a spectrum of health benefits. Turmeric, ginger, chilies, and curries give foods a wonderful flavor and reduce inflammation while increasing circulation.
Eating seasonal foods also helps to prevent disease and maintain good health. Seasonal foods are usually tastier because they are more nutritionally dense. They have higher levels of nutrients because they have been able to follow their natural growing and ripening process. Foods bought out of season are picked too early and are artificially ripened which means that they lose nutrients and flavor in the process. Fruits bought in season can be pureed or frozen for later use.
Vitamins A, C, and folate are found in fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, kiwi fruit, cherries, red peppers all of which can be incorporated into your diet if they are available.
Keep your immune system strong
A healthy immune system is necessary to help us fight off infections. It’s important to get enough sleep and rest and it is also a time to manage stress better. Raised stress levels increase the output of stress hormones which reduce immune function making us more susceptible to illnesses.
Zinc is a good nutrient to help maintain immunity and it is present in foods such as seafood, shellfish, beans, nuts, mushrooms, kelp, pumpkin seeds, and whole grains.
Avoid the added sugar burden
Be careful of the added sugar burden if you are drinking more warm drinks such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or Chai lattes (especially if you add sugar to these).
Apart from the likely weight gain due to the empty calories, high sugar intake increases inflammation making you more vulnerable to illness.
Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 10 March 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am