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Stay Healthy This Winter

With winter upon us there are many ways to stay fit and healthy and make sure you can enjoy the best the season has to offer. By Greg Mattocks-Evans

AS THE nights draw in and temperatures continue to dip, it’s the time of year when we’re most vulnerable to colds and flu, but there are many ways to help you to beat the winter bugs. It sounds simple but staying warm is crucial to staying healthy during the winter months. Keep your living room at around 21°C/70°F and the rest of the house at 18°C/64°F.

When you go outside keep your face, hands and feet well wrapped up and remember that many thin layers are better than one thick layer.

Exercise is vital for your general well-being and fitness, but it can also play a vital role in keeping you warm in the winter months. When you’re indoors try not to sit still for more than an hour. If you can, try and do roughly half an hour of exercise a day as this helps to lower the production of stress hormones, which helps your white blood cells to fight disease more effectively. It also helps you sleep better, which also reduces stress.

When it’s cold and dark outside it can be tempting to seek comfort in unhealthy food, but maintaining a healthy and balanced diet in winter is one of the most important ways of building up your resistance to colds and flu.

Try and eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. They can be fresh, frozen, dried, canned or juiced and should make up about a third of your diet.

Many of us don’t eat enough fruit and veg, and it can be hard to know how much a ‘portion’ actually is. Here are a few simple suggestions, which count as one portion each:

Breakfast: A glass of juice or a heaped tablespoon of dried fruit or a banana with your cereal

Snacks: An apple or a pear

Lunch: A side salad or three heaped tablespoons of baked beans

Dinner: Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables like peas or carrots or sweetcorn.

Try and avoid ‘bad’ fats, such as the polyunsaturated variety, found in meats and full-fat dairy products, which suppress the immune system. Olive oil is a good alternative that is naturally high in valuable antioxidants, which act as a natural immune booster. Nuts and seeds are high in ‘good’ fatty acids, which help cells in the body function properly.

If you can, avoid more than four alcoholic drinks a day. A hot toddy before bed may feel like it warms you up but it actually does the opposite. Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, which shifts blood flow to the surface of the skin where nerve endings respond to changes in temperature.

Unsurprisingly, warm blood flowing closer to our body’s natural thermometers gives us the sensation of warmth, but letting blood flow so close to the skin allows cold outside air to steal heat, lowering our body’s core temperature.

Instead drink plenty of water and the occasional hot drink. Water is not only an invaluable nutrient but it also gives you a direct immune advantage. When you are fully hydrated the mucus in your throat is more effective at trapping cold particles, thus helping to keep infection at bay.

To find out more tips on staying healthy this winter, click here

What do you think to these tips? Have you tried any of them? Got any of your own to share?

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