Winter Briefs: Guidelines to A Healthier Winter Season

New England is beautified with four drastically different seasons, each with its own joys and griefs.  Our winters, in particular, bring excellent outdoor activities like sledding, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snowshoeing, just to name a few.  However, New England winters come with the costs of frigid temperatures, lengthier times spent indoors, and the dreaded flu season.  Here are some pharmacist-approved non-drug (AKA non-pharmacological) treatments and/or preventative strategies that may help assure your winter is a healthier one.  Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

1.)  Eat Well and Sleep Even Better – This is 95% of the equation to staying healthy this winter.  No supplement or crazy concoction will give you the recovery and restoration packed in three healthy meals a day and a good night’s sleep, every night.  Enjoy the opportunity to use the stove.  Stir up some stews, brew up some teas, and warm up the house, too.  Take advantage of diminished daylight, an excellent excuse to go to bed early and sleep!

Rx:  Check out our previous articles for more info on healthy eats, or just stick to the basics of lean meats/fish/bird. vegetables >> fruits and healthy fats throughout the day.

2.) Exercise – Nothing ramps up your metabolic motor and keeps your body functioning at higher efficiency than daily exercise.  It doesn’t have to be anything extreme, just get to the gym or get outside (with appropriate attire, of course) and get your heart rate up and muscles moving!

Rx:  At least 30 minutes daily (resistance training and/or cardio) is a good goal.

3.) Chicken soup (chicken, broth, vegetables, spices) This mixture has shown to be just as effective at reducing the severity and lifespan of colds as most over the counter cold aids.  It is packed with essential proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibers to totally nourish your needs.

Rx: chicken soup, often.

4.) Prebiotics/Probiotics (AKA the “good gut” bacteria)   These may reduce the chances of getting upper respiratory tract infections and aid in healthy gut function.  Excellent food sources include sauerkraut, fermented pickles, kombucha tea, kimchi and live culture yogurts (Siggi’s, Maple Hill, etc).

Rx: Try to get one serving of a probiotic-packed food daily, or a quality brand capsule with more than 3-5 billion organisms.

5.) Getting a Flu Shot – Your neighbor says there are secret government biochips in this year’s batch of the flu vaccine.  Aside from the lot of the paranoia and dysphoria that surround vaccinations, the fact is, the flu shot does not give you the flu, nor does it harbor a secret CIA tracking device.  As an immune system stimulator, the flu shot betters your chances of not getting sick, or as sick as someone who doesn’t get vaccinated.

Rx: One flu shot per year.

6.) Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is an important hormone produced by the skin via exposure to the sun (as opposed to D2, or ergocalciferol, found in food).  It is linked to many processes, including mood, bone growth and cardiovascular health.  The sun’s angles change in the winter, as does our skin exposure and, consequently, our vitamin D production.

Rx: Talk to your doctor before supplementing.  2000 international units of cholecalciferol is an average maintenance dose.

7.) Hygiene – On average, we spend a lot more time indoors during the winter. Good hygiene helps prevent the spread of germs.

Rx: Wash your hands regularly (before meals and after restroom use).  Brush, floss, and shower daily.  Keep your living space clean and organized.

Stay warm and enjoy our winter wonderland!

 

 

Nate Charpentier, PharmD, RPh has been trained in how to manage health and disease using pharmacological intervention. He believes food is the most important pharmacological choice we make on a daily basis.  His website, GrassFedFarmacy.com, is a new start-up for health awareness. He is an active member and coach in the CrossFit community. 

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