Cold Season & Winter Wellness Top Tips

Cold Season & Winter Wellness Top Tips

Cold Season & Winter Wellness Top Tips

cold season and winter wellness tips for seniors from medicare life health co.

Baby it’s getting cold out here! Today we will cover simple winter wellness tips for seniors to stay well in cold season and throughout the year.

Here’s what we know:

  • Staying healthy is important in any year and in any time of the year.
  • Staying healthy is even more important in a pandemic year. Moreover, in the winter when we are all stuck indoors.
  • This is all especially true if you are entering into, or already are in, your Medicare years.

Let’s talk about what you can do to protect yourself and keep your body as healthy as possible during these ever changing times and seasons.

An Important Disclaimer

It is important to note that this article is not intended to replace a doctor’s care or recommendations. You should consult with a doctor on important health concerns. This article compiles what the medical community at large has researched that has been effective for the general population.

Beyond the Basics

In this article we will go beyond our day to day healthy practices (which we certainly need to be following carefully) laid out by the CDC, and into what we can be doing now that will have a positive impact on our health and wellness into the next days, months and years.

Some of these will be obvious, but important, reminders for maintaining good health, especially during flu / cold season and winter. However, others might be ideas you have not considered before, but are no less important or powerful.

As a reminder, our daily healthy practices for all virus protection are…

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often
  • Cover your mouth (not with your hand) when you sneeze or cough
  • Use a face mask when in public and maintain social distancing guidelines
  • Disinfect surfaces you use often
  • Be aware of your body and call your doctor if you think you are experiencing symptoms.
  • Visit https://www.coronavirus.gov/ for more information.

In addition, the CDC has special information for those who are older or have underlying medical conditions (like diabetes, heart and/or lung disease) that put them at higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Please read more about this here.

Cold Season Protective Health Tips for Seniors

To start, I am writing this article during the 2020/2021 pandemic. The infamous COVID-19 virus is reported to affect many of the body’s systems including the respiratory system (including the lungs) and the circulatory system (including the heart). So, what practical things can we do to protect our body from viruses?

Let’s look at two obvious, two not so obvious (but still simple) steps, and one bonus suggestion.

  • Eating Healthy, Natural Foods
  • Exercising Regularly
  • Getting Enough Vitamin D
  • Getting Enough Omega 3’s
  • Bonus: Using the Sauna

Eating Healthy, Natural Foods

Diet goes a long way in protecting your immune system. Good foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals bolster your body’s health. We need a variety of nutritious foods with varying amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to fuel our immune system and keep us healthy. Nutrition science has shown us …

The immune system protects versus illness. Exposure to contaminations, stress, malnutrition and other factors that impact on immune dysfunction has increased in the modern lifestyle hence paying attention to adequate amount of calorie, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is necessary.

http://immunopathol.com/PDF/ipp-1-e04.pdf

One instant way to improve your diet is to include whole foods, fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Filling your plate with these foods will begin to inch out less nutritious foods that are hard for our bodies to digest. (For example – eating less sugar, processed foods and fast foods.)

Eating healthier foods will not only help you to improve your immune system and overall health, but will also help you to save money in the long run. Read more about saving money with our number one health hack here.

Need help kicking a sugar habit? Start here.

Exercising Regularly

Even just a small increase in your activity level can help keep your body healthier. Moreover, exercise helps strengthen your lungs, your heart and even your immune system. Your lymph system (which is like your body’s garbage collection and removal system) works much more efficiently with exercise.

Just Start Moving

Wherever you are in your exercise routine, start small with any changes, and consult your physician with any personal health questions. It is important to find exercise you enjoy and will continue to do regularly.

If you are stuck at home, there are still resources available to you:

In addition to diet and exercise, there are a few additional health practices that have the potenital to enhance your immune system over time.

Cold Season & Vitamin D

One of the simplest steps you can take to protect yourself during cold season and bolster your winter wellness is to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of Vitamin D.

To start, Vitamin D is very important to your body. In fact, it is actually more than just a vitamin – it is a steroid hormone your body needs for proper functioning. However, more than 41% of the U.S. is getting deficient levels of Vitamin D and perhaps up to 70% of Americans are getting insufficient levels of Vitamin D.

Most of us know that vitamin D helps our body regulate calcium to keep our bones, teeth and muscles strong. Interestingly, recent studies have shown that Vitamin D might have a protecting factor against lung injury. This is big news in this time where our world is fighting a virus that can damage our lungs.

According to Science Daily, reporting on a study done by the University of Queen Mary London, Vitamin D can protect against respiratory infections including colds and flus.

“Daily or weekly supplementation halved the risk of acute respiratory infection in people with the lowest baseline vitamin D levels, below 25 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L). However, people with higher baseline vitamin D levels also benefited, although the effect was more modest (10 per cent risk reduction). ”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170216110002.htm

Dr. Rhonda Patrick (who has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences) has a very through and insteresting video on Vitamin D available here. The video addresses how “Vitamin D may reduce susceptibility to COVID-19-associated lung injury.”

Am I Getting Enough Vitamin D?

You may now be wondering if you are vitamin D deficient or insuffient. Typically, the only direct way to tell is with a blood test. During this time, it might be prohibitive to get a blood test.

We get vitamin D from the sun’s UVB rays during certain times of the year (and based on where you live relative to the equator) and we can get it in small amounts through some foods. However, most of us are not getting enough through these avenues and might have to consider supplementation.

We suggest talking to your doctor about vitamin D supplementation. If you would like to read more about “How much vitamin D do I need?” then I also suggest reading this article from the Harvard Medical School website.

Getting Enough Omega 3’s

Omega 3 fatty acids work together with Vitamin D to keep your immune system functioning at its highest capacity.

According to “Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells,” a peer reviewed study you can read all of here, “Both omega-3 and omega-6-derived metabolites have important immune-regulatory functions.” To get specific and scientific, Omega 3s regulate cellular membrane properties and can be signaling molecules to cells. This means they help cells figure out what is good and what is bad to let into cells – for example, viruses.

Since Omega 3’s are important to immune function, it would be a good idea to make sure you are including these into your diet – especially during flu season. So where do you get them?

Ways to Get Your Omega 3’s

According to the National Institute of Health, you can find Omega 3’s:

  • Fish and some seafoods such as salmon, sardines, tuna
  • Nuts / Seeds like chia, walnuts and flax, including their oils
  • Fortified foods like some milks and eggs
  • Supplements like fish oil caplets

A varied diet including these Omega 3 rich foods will help to bolster your immune system. You can always ask your health care practitioner about supplementation if you think that is needed.

How Much Omega 3’s Do I Need?

According to the NHI, “recommended amounts of EPA and DHA have not been established.” On the other hand, ALA recommended amounts have been established, but the amount needed by each person depends on their age and sex. You can see ALA recommended amounts here.

Bonus: Using the Sauna

Ok, I understand that this final winter wellness suggestion is not an option for everyone. As a result, I am including it as a “bonus” suggestion. However, the benefits of sauna use are very tied to a healthy immune system and can be an effective way to stave off the unwanted viruses of cold season.

When we are talking about “saunas” we are talking about the small, wooden rooms with either a Finnish, hot rock heater or an infrared heated sauna. Both of these sauna methods can be effective in training your immune system to be more effective through timed exposure to high heat.

The benefits of sauna use include:

  • Strengthening immune responsive
  • Better heart health
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Reversal of cognitive decline
  • And even mood lifting (Click for Source.)

If you are interested in learning more about sauna benefits and use, I suggest you start with this very detailed article from Dr. Rhonda Patrick.

Conclusions

In summary, there are several good first steps to taking care of your immune system during cold season. Your winter wellness regimen should include:

  • Eating Healthy, Natural Foods
  • Exercising Regularly
  • Getting Enough Vitamin D
  • Getting Enough Omega 3’s
  • And as a Bonus: Using the Sauna

By following these suggestions, you should give you immune system a head start during the winter months (and all year).

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