7 Suggestions For A Healthier Fall And Winter

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It’s time to say goodbye to summer and welcome the changing of the seasons. The vibrant colors, the sound of leaves crunching beneath your feet, and the festivity in the air can invigorate your spirit. However, these seasonal changes can have a negative impact on your health and well-being. As temperatures drop, consider the benefits of protecting your health with a few simple suggestions:

#1 Protect Yourself from Colds and Flu

Cold and flu viruses typically strike in full-force during fall and winter because of the drier air and colder temperatures. Cold air slows the production of mucus and decreases the ability of your immune system to protect your body from viruses. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) typically recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months is vaccinated against influenza, particularly those with chronic health conditions. The following suggestions can also help reduce your risk of catching a nasty virus.

  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Drink plenty of fluids and maintain healthy eating habits to boost immunity
  • Get rid of the germs picked up on surfaces with frequent hand washing
  • Use hand sanitizer when washing with soap is impractical
  • Use alcohol wipes on surfaces such as keyboards, remote controls, and shopping cart handles before use

#2 Remember the Importance of Hydration

Without the intense heat of summer, it’s easy to overlook the importance of hydration. While you may not feel as thirsty now that your body is not battling the effect of heat and humidity, staying hydrated still provides significant health benefits. A healthy person needs a minimum of 30-50 ounces of fluids each day. Consider the following benefits of good hydration habits:

  • Keeping skin hydrated and moisturized
  • Reducing the frequency and severity of headaches
  • Protecting joints by keeping them cushioned and lubricated
  • Aiding digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Assisting in waste removal
  • Regulating body temperature

#3 Indulge in a Colorful Diet

A well-balanced diet typically contains lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and generous amounts of vegetables. Let the changing of the seasons and the beautiful fall colors be your reminder of the importance of colorful vegetables and fruit in your diet. While leafy greens frequently top the list of recommended vegetables, consider the value of incorporating plenty of color into your healthy eating plan.

  • Red – contains lycopene and anthocyanin to protect from macular degeneration, heart disease and some types of cancer
  • Orange – contains zeaxanthin, lycopene and essential vitamins and flavonoids to boost immunity and promote calcium and magnesium absorption
  • Yellow – promotes bone health, wound healing, and may reverse many signs of aging
  • Blue/Purple – contain potent antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect from cardiovascular and neurological damage

#4 Consider the Benefits of Sunlight

The reduction of available sunlight during the fall and winter months can leave you feeling blue or depressed. The lower levels of serotonin produced in your body and increased melatonin from sunlight reduction can affect your mental health.

If you are having difficulty with symptoms of depression as we move closer to winter, you should consult with your health care provider. The first line of treatment for Seasonal Depressive Disorder typically includes increasing light exposure. To increase your exposure to sunlight, consider the following suggestions:

  • Open curtains and blinds to allow more light into your environment
  • Take an afternoon walk in the sunshine
  • Sit near a window whenever you can
  • Invest in daylight simulation bulbs
  • Consider painting dark walls a lighter color to reflect more light

#5 Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Your sleep cycles are regulated by light and darkness. Since Autumn weather typically results in decreased sunlight exposure, you may find that your natural sleep cycle gets out of whack. Some find they have difficulty falling asleep, while others tire earlier in fall and winter than during the summer. You can offset some of the negative effects of the changing seasons by resisting the urge to take a mid-afternoon nap and establishing a consistent sleep schedule. Additional suggestions include:

  • Establishing a relaxing pre-sleep ritual, such as a relaxing bath or soothing tea
  • Heading for bed at a consistent time each night
  • Getting up at the same time each day, even on weekends
  • Engaging in light physical activity when you begin to feel sluggish

#6 Invest in a Cold-Mist Humidifier

Cold air and indoor heating create a dry environment that can leave you susceptible to illness. Investing in a humidifier can help keep you healthy and comfortable as winter approaches. During fall you may find that your skin feels dry and tight, and you may snore more frequently. Adding moisture to the air is shown to provide many potential health benefits, including:

  • Reducing your risk of colds and flu and alleviating their symptoms
  • Easing the symptoms of asthma and allergies
  • Reducing your risk of sinusitis and relieving sinus symptoms
  • Keeping skin soft, supple, and winter-itch free

#7 Consider the Benefits of An Air Purifier For Your Health

When temperatures drop, we tend to close our windows, reducing the air circulation in our homes and offices. A dry atmosphere allows airborne contaminants to remain airborne. These contaminants can cause severe infections when they are ingested, inhaled, or come into contact with your skin. Investing in an air-purification device for your home, or a personal device for your office can reduce your risk of illness. Not only will you reduce your risk of a cold or the flu, but an air purifier can also protect you from:

  • Allergens and pollutants
  • Unpleasant odors
  • Whooping cough and diphtheria
  • Pneumonia and tuberculosis

The changing of the seasons can have a direct effect on your health and well-being. A few simple lifestyle modifications could help you maintain your health as temperatures drop. For more tips on living a healthier and happier life, be sure to follow MediPeds on Facebook and Instagram!

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