It seems like summer is a distant memory, there are Christmas cards in the shops, we’ve started to look out the gloves, and the flip-flops and sun cream are all packed away!! During the summer we are all aware of ‘summer health’ - to wear sunscreen and protect our skin, drink plenty of water to keep hydrated during the hot days – generally how to stay well in the summer.
Do we give the same attention to our health over the winter months?
Here are a few ideas to help stay healthy this Winter- (from NHS website):
Banish winter tiredness
Many people feel tired and sluggish during winter. This is due to the lack of sunlight, which disrupts our sleep and waking cycles.
Try these tips:
- get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible
- get a good night's sleep – go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- destress with exercise or meditation – stress has been shown to make you feel tired
Eat more fruit and veg
When it's cold and dark outside, it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food. However, it's important to ensure you still have a healthy diet and include five portions of fruit and veg a day.
If you find yourself craving a sugary treat, try a juicy clementine or satsuma instead.
Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede and turnips can be roasted, mashed or made into soup for a comforting winter meal for the whole family. Explore varieties of fruit and veg that you may not normally eat.
Try new activities for the whole family
Don't use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and lounge around. Instead, get out with the whole family to try out a new activity –maybe ice skating, or taking a bracing winter walk on the beach or through the park.
Regular exercise helps control your weight, boost your immune system, and is a good way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.
Have a hearty breakfast
Winter is the perfect season for porridge. Eating a warm bowlful on a cold morning isn't just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre.
These foods give you energy and help you feel fuller for longer, stopping the temptation to snack mid-morning. Oats also contain lots of vital vitamins and minerals.
Make your porridge with semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk, or water, and don't add sugar or salt. Add a sliced banana, berries or other fruit for extra flavour and to help you hit your 5 A Day target
If you do get unwell, here a few tips on how to deal with common winter ailments -
You can help prevent colds by washing your hands regularly. This destroys bugs that you may have picked up from touching surfaces used by other people, such as light switches and door handles.
It's also important to keep the house and any household items such as cups, glasses and towels clean, especially if someone in your house is ill.
Sore throats are common in winter and are almost always caused by viral infections.
There's some evidence that changes in temperature, such as going from a warm, centrally heated room to the icy outdoors, can also affect the throat.
Top tip: One quick and easy remedy for a sore throat is to gargle with warm salty water. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a glass of part-cooled boiled water.
It won't heal the infection, but it has anti-inflammatory properties and can have a soothing effect.
Also known as the winter vomiting bug, norovirus is an extremely infectious stomach bug. It can strike all year round, but is more common in winter and in places such as hotels, hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
The illness is unpleasant, but it's usually over within a few days.
Top tip: When people are ill with vomiting and diarrhoea, it's important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Young children and the elderly are especially at risk.
By drinking oral rehydration fluids (available from pharmacies), you can reduce the risk of dehydration.
Flu can be a major health risk to vulnerable people. People aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are particularly at risk.
The best way to prevent getting flu is to have the flu jab (or flu nasal spray for children aged 2 to 17). The flu vaccine gives good protection against flu and lasts for one year.
If you are over 65 or have a long term health condition, you are also eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which provides protection against pneumonia.