It gets cold in the winter, even here in the South. This is the season of holidays, hot tea, and evenings spent curled up by the fire with a good book, and while we look forward to the more cheery parts of winter, it's not always the most wonderful time of the year. Everything outside turns gray, and the world slows down just a bit, along with our bodies and immune systems. But don't let those winter blues get you down; here are some tips to help add a little color and vitality into your winter season:
Exercise - we tend to stay inside more during the winter, and our bodies produce less endorphins from the lack of movement. It may be too cold to do anything outside, but there are plenty of indoor exercises that you can do to keep you feeling nice and energized. Yoga is one of our favorites because you can enjoy the benefits at any skill level. Even basic yoga movements will increase blood flow, metabolism, and the chemicals your body needs to feel great. You can do these from home or begin classes at a studio, or both! If you're in our neck of the woods, some of our go-to studios in the Chattanooga area are: Hot Yoga Plus, Yoga Landing, and Thrive.
Immunity - winter is cold and flu season, and it can be hard to keep from getting sick this time of year. Even in our store, plenty of customers have been coming in coughing and sniffling, in search of anything to help them get over their particular ailment. Along with juices that are jam-packed with essential vitamins, enzymes, and minerals, here are some basic, healthy foods that will boost your immune system naturally:
- Probiotics - help keep the gut and intestinal tract free of nasty germs and full of healthy ones. You can find these in many different forms at the grocery store or pharmacy and we can add them to almost any treat we offer!
- Tea - both green and black teas contain L-theanine, an amino acid known for its antiviral qualities.
- Oats and Barley - whole grains contain high levels of beta-glucan, an antimicrobial and antioxidant fiber that boosts your immune system and speeds up the healing process. It also keeps things moving, which Mama says is always a good thing.
- Kale - loaded with vitamins A, C, and B, magnesium, copper, and iron, this leafy green vegetable is an immunity-boosting powerhouse.
- Carrots and sweet potatoes - a good source of vitamin-A, which is great for your skin, the body's first line of defense against viruses and bacteria.
- Mushrooms - these increase the production and activity of white blood cells. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms have been found to help immunity the most.
- Citrus - In particular, oranges, grapefruit, and lime, are packed with vitamin-C, which helps keep your immune system going strong by promoting white blood cell and antibody production, which together fight off sickness.
Vitamin-D - Less sunlight during winter months means less vitamin-D in our bodies, which is essential for strong bones, normal blood pressure, and a healthy immune system. So how do we get more in our system with no warm rays to soak up?
- Make the most of your winter-time sun exposure by taking walks outside during the middle of the day, when the sun is at its highest and sunlight is most accessible to your body.
- As comfortably as you might, let as much skin show as possible to maximize sun exposure.
- Take vitamin-D supplements that you can find at your local health foods store.
Get creative - a great post by Sinead O'Connor on holistic tips for winter lists some great reasons for finding a creative outlet, especially during the winter:
"Dance, yoga, art, crafts, theatre, music, writing, singing whatever your choice is. It's fun and rewarding to be creative. Being creative also strengthens the right side of the brain, the same side that we use for intuition, wisdom, and to feel a deeper connection to all beings."
As a side note, she also explains that food is our only source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid responsible for the production of serotonin, which, simply put, makes you feel good. So make sure you eat lots of spinach because it contains plenty of tryptophan.
Fighting off the winter blues is simple - it's all about feeling good. Just make sure you eat intentionally; that is, eat foods that will make you feel good and keep your immune system strong. Take in plenty of vitamins, especially vitamin-D, and stay active. This will help your body produce chemicals that will keep you feeling positive, and finding a creative outlet will further enforce that feeling of satisfaction. And as always, drink lots of juice!