7 Smart Steps to Staying Well This Winter

We humans are the most sophisticated species on the planet with profound natural healing capacities. Yet, when the holidays come, we ignore our natural instincts and over-eat, under-exercise, drink too much and stay up late, sabotaging our health. Let’s change that!

 To support your body’s natural healing mechanisms, follow Mother Nature’s Rhythm: 

Rise with the Sun:
Taking a walk in the bright morning sunlight optimizes melatonin, the hormone that orchestrates our circadian (24 hour) rhythm. Exposure to bright morning sunlight turns down melatonin, then prompts it to be released again earlier in the evening to ensure a good night’s sleep. Melatonin is also a key player in “buffering” the immune response: it stimulates the activity of white blood cells, while reducing inflammatory cytokines. Melatonin also plays a role in down-regulating a variety of autoimmune conditions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3645767/

Soak up the Sunshine Vitamin:
Our understanding of vitamin D has progressed from it being “just” a vitamin, to learning its function as a hormone that regulates thousands of genes that code for chronic disease. Low vitamin D-3 levels are associated with increased incidence of the flu, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, MS and osteoporosis. If you avoid the sun, always wear sunscreen, live in the northern hemisphere in the winter and are not supplementing with vitamin D3, then you’re probably deficient. While eggs, butter/ghee, fish oils and mushrooms provide some of this key nutrient, it’s not enough to achieve target levels. So, do you “know your number”? If you’re not sure what your vitamin D level is, see your doctor and get tested (with the 25 (OH) vitamin D test). Optimal vitamin D3 levels should be between 50-80 ng./dl. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16959053?dopt=Citation

Work with Mother Nature’s Pharmacy: Employ Elderberry
(or Sambucus nigra): Elderberries have been used traditionally throughout Europe and Asia as a wine, tincture or syrup to reduce the duration and severity of the flu, colds and respiratory infections. Elderberry extract has been shown to:

I love this classic Elderberry “syrup” with no high fructose corn syrup…it is palatable even when you’re sick with the flu! Sambucol Original Liquid Black Elderberry 7.8 fl.oz

Eat clean: Here are some tips to cope with the onslaught of holiday temptations:

  • Stay hydrated! Start your day with a cup of warm lemon water, and drink 5 more 12 oz. glasses of water through the day. Drink herb teas, broths, smoothies and soups.
  • Limit sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and refined and processed junk.
  • Eat lightly: feast on winter greens, roasted root veggies, seasonal fruits (citrus), nuts, seeds, lentils, small amounts of animal protein and make soup! You’ll find a few of my personal favorites in my “Rx Recipe Box” on DrSallysKitchen.com
  • Eat before you go to an event (or bring something you’d like to share) to prevent indulgences you’ll regret later.

Get moving!
Tempting as it is to spend these darker months indoors binge watching and napping, make it a point to get at least 30-60 minutes of movement each day. Whether it’s a brisk morning walk, time on the elliptical or a trip to the gym, vigorous movement fights depression, improves blood flow, builds bone density, improves cognitive function and burns calories. Don’t get me started on exercise....just get moving!

Hygiene: Back to the basics!

  • Avoid “fomites”, all those surfaces covered in microbes, like pens, keypads, doorknobs, stair rails, handles, faucets, etc.
  • Wash your hands for 30+ seconds with regular soap and water several times a day (not anti-bacterial gel cleansers).
  • Avoid contact with those who are sick.
  • Stay hydrated! Drink water, teas, broths, smoothies and soups.
  • Consider exercise at the onset of a cold…it appears to reverse symptoms in some people.
  • If you get sick, REST: Support the process and stay home until 24 hours after your fever clears (except to go to the doctor for diagnoses/treatment). Your body will thank you!

If you found this helpful, please share it far and wide!