Yes winter is here and this year we are getting ready for one of the biggest temperature drops for a number of years, with that comes a drop in our immune systems also.
Two of the most common questions I am asked around the winter season are, why are we so prone to getting the flu through winter and what is the best way to stay flu free during winter?
Firstly, when the weather starts to cool down you are less inclined to spend time outside, as it is cold. The days are also shorter and both of these contribute towards less sunlight exposure and a reduction in the amount of Vitamin D produced by the body. This leads towards a deficiency and increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.
Secondly, we are more likely to consume foods that aren’t nourishing and have direct benefits towards our health eg. excess gluten, take out, overly processed food, alcohol. These trigger inflammation leading to the weakening of the immune system, along with an insufficient amount of vitamins and minerals being consumed and deterioration of gut health.
Lastly, we are exposed to cold air. Especially when training in winter we often start off training sessions wearing 2-4 layers of clothing but as we start to warm up, the layers start to come off. This leads to the exposure of cold air while our bodies are still warm and increases the number of inflammatory cells in the lungs, producing asthma-like conditions. Try to keep at least one layer of warm clothing on while training (especially if outside or in a cold gym), even though it might seem hot towards the end of the workout it will help you in the long run.
What Are The Best Ways To Stay Flu Free This Winter?
Below are 4 simple tips that I highly recommend and have helped me to stay seriously flu free for the past two seasons.
- Get between 15-20 minutes of sun exposure each day –This will aid your body to keep producing Vitamin D and will also keep you active. Utilise your lunch break to take a quick walk outside while the weather is at its warmest.
- Stay consistent with your nutrition –Yes I’m sure you want to curl up on the couch, eat a block of chocolate and drink a bottle of wine every night but that’s not going to do your immune system any favors along with body fat levels. Consuming plenty of dark fruits and veggies, good fats and a range of protein sources is crucial for getting the essential amount of micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and aiding in detoxification, repairing of cells, supporting the immune system and balancing your PH levels. Consuming the right amount of water for your body is also crucial to help move toxins out through the liver and kidneys quicker, aim for 0.033 litres per kilo of bodyweight.
- Love your guts – Your immune system resides in your gut health, so take extra care of it to keep the right balance of good and bad bacteria in your stomach. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is perfect for helping your body detox of nasties, supporting your gut health and balancing the bodies PH levels. The exceptional acids in ACV bind to toxins and help the body eliminate them more effectively so it is perfect for when you are sick. Add 1 tablespoon of ACV to 50 mls of water and drink first up every morning or if you can’t handle the taste then add it to your salads as a dressing.
- Rest and Recovery –If you do get the flu don’t push through it and keep training. You are much better having 2-3 days off and fully recovering rather than carry on and prolong your symptoms. When we’re run down and sick, our bodies require additional energy to recover and heal. Recovery happens when we reset and sleep, so put the gym shoes down for now, grab a blanket and get to bed early. If you are really looking to do something active, try some meditation or light yoga.
Remember prevention is always better than a cure, so by implementing these 4 simple tips you can look towards a flu free winter this year!
If you’re wanting to really step it up this winter, keep your motivation levels high and improve your lifestyle habits & overall health, then our 8 Week Winter Warrior Project that kicks off on July 13 would be perfect for you! To register your interest early and received a discounted entry, click the button below!
Yours in health,
Director & Head Coach