Here comes winter. This winter, don’t just survive; thrive by creating your own personalized ultimate Winter Survival Kit.
To help determine what you’ll put into your Winter Survival Kit, here are solutions to 5 common problems that you and your family may face over the winter months.
1) Defend Against Viruses
As you huddle inside close together with loved ones, you’ll also be getting up close and personal with some pesky viruses. Ward them off with a strong immune system thanks to your well-planned Winter Survival Kit, stocked with well-known immune boosting supplements such as zinc, Echinacea, vitamin C, resveratrol, quercetin, oil of oregano, elderberry, garlic, olive leaf and Astragalus. Some of these herbal medicines, such as oil of oregano and elderberry, work by actually warding off viruses. Others provide necessary nutrients to keep the immune system working optimally. Resveratrol, garlic, quercetin and vitamin C help protect immune cells from damage.
Another way to boost your immune system is through your gut. Probiotics, those helpful microbes that live in your intestinal tract and encourage the immune system to work optimally, can be taken in supplement form. You can also help your gut’s probiotics grow in numbers by feeding them with prebiotics. Prebiotics are available in supplement form and are found in many common foods including bananas, asparagus and legumes. Eating mushrooms or taking mushroom supplements may be another way to boost your immune system through your gut. According to the May 2014 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, mushrooms may support immune health by interacting with the probiotics in your gut. Whether you stock your Winter Survival Kit with these herbal medicines in a powder, liquid, drink mix, lozenge or pill form, you’ll be able to find one perfect for you at your local health food store.
2) Overcoming Colds and Flus
Homeopathic remedies may be helpful additions in your Winter Survival Kit. Some well-known homeopathic ingredients that help cold and flu symptoms include Oscillococcinum, Hydrastis canadensis and Bryonia. Never tried a homeopathic before? Know that a recent review of 83 studies on homeopathy suggests homeopathics have a significant effect in some conditions including influenza-like symptoms, rhinoconjunctivitis (stuffy nose) and sinusitis (inflamed sinuses). More great additions to your Winter Survival Kit are essential oils. The warming aromas of cinnamon and bergamot may be helpful to a body feeling chilly. As for that stuffy nose, eucalyptus has long been used as a chest rub to help alleviate congestion. Your nasal passage may also like a saline rinse with a Neti pot. According to a 2015 Cochrane Database Systematic Review, evidence suggests using saline solutions to irrigate your nasal passage is helpful. Warm and comforting teas and soups in your Winter Survival Kit may also make it easier to overcome the common cold or flu.
Create your Winter Survival Kit today and have it ready so all you have to focus on, when you feel like your head is stuffed and your limbs are too heavy to lift, is getting better.
3) Discover D-Light
Canadians sure spend a lot of time outside in the winter all bundled up with scarves and mitts. As such, our skin doesn’t see much sunlight making it almost impossible for our skin to make vitamin D. Vitamin D is involved in calcium absorption in the gut, maintenance of blood phosphate levels, bone growth and remodeling. Plus, research is discovering links between having low vitamin D levels and many diseases including cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart disease and diabetes. You can get some vitamin D from mushrooms, egg yolks and cheese. Fortified milk and salmon offer the most vitamin D per bite.
4) Yawning More this Winter?
The darker days of winter also affect our sleep-wake cycles. One of the main hormones that regulate our sleep-awake cycle is melatonin. Melatonin is only produced during dark hours. In the winter we tend to spend lots of time huddled inside exposed to artificial lighting. This makes it easy for our body to lose its natural day-night rhythm and can cause people to have trouble sleeping, gain weight and experience daytime drowsiness. Eating melatonin has been shown in research studies to help reset the sleep-wake cycle and promote better sleep health. Melatonin is present in many fruits and vegetables, most notably cherries, orange bell peppers, walnuts and tomatoes. Melatonin is also available in supplement form at your local health food store.
5) Play More, Go Fish
Research says eating fish can improve your mood. Fish is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, more specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). EPA plays an important role in how you feel. A 2011 review in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry concluded that supplements containing EPA (200 to 2200mg/day of EPA in excess of DHA) were effective against primary depression. Starting to think about adding some omega-3 fatty acids to your Winter Survival Kit? It’s probably worth it considering that omega-3 fatty acids not only help your brain stay happy, they may also protect your brain, according to a study published in the August 2014 issue of Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids available at your local health food store include fish, flax, chia and hemp.
Brrrr! It is getting chilly outside. Ready to enjoy the winter? You will be with your Ultimate Winter Survival Kits, stocked with natural products to help keep you and your family feeling their best this winter.
Holick, MF et al. Vitamin D and Skin Physiology: a D-lightful story. J Bone Min Res 2007;22(2).
Health Canada Monograph – Melatonin
van Strater AC, PF Bouvy. Omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of affective disorders: an overview of the literature. Tijdschr Psychiatr 2007;49(2):85-94.
Pigeon, WR et al. Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. J Med Food 2010 Jun;13(3):579-83.
Cutuli, D et. al. n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation enhances hippocampal functionality in aged mice. Front Aging Neurosci 2014 Aug 25;6:220.
Sublette, ME. et al. Meta-analysis of the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in clinlcal trials in depression. J Clin Psychiatry 2011 Dec;72(12):1577-84.
King, D. et al. Saline nasal irrigation for acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015 Apr 20.