by Keith

I’ve been doing a bit of research into health type stuff recently. My wife and I are in pretty good shape but we’ve been letting things slip a bit of late. Probably all the stress from the wedding, new business, buying a house, etc. It’s not that big a surprise that we’ve turned to food and booze to take the edge off! Oh, and the holidays don’t help. Seems like everyone is ready with a beer or some delicious eats that goes straight to your waistline.

But it goes beyond keeping the weight down. The holidays and cold weather can do a real number on you in lots of ways.

One of the things I’m going to try really hard to do this winter is not get sick again. I’ve been under the weather on and off for the past week and I’m bound and determined to put a stop to that. Luckily there are all sorts of resources that offer advice on keeping fit through the winter months. I’ve compiled a list of tips for those of you who, like me, want to get a head start on your healthy New Year’s resolution.

h2. Thing you can do to take care of your body during winter

* Drink in moderation. I know it can be hard, especially during the holidays, but the more you can limit your alcohol in take the less chance you have of getting sick.
* Drink lots of water. A good idea for holiday parties is to substitute a bottle of water for every other drink. This cuts down on your alcohol intake and helps you get the extra water you need.
* Wash your hands regularly. You’ll want to keep as clean as you can to avoid germs.
* Keep your home and work space as clean as possible.
* Avoid smoking. If you’re trying to quit, the winter months is a good time to start. Smoking (or second-hand smoke) greatly increases your chances of getting sick.
* Take time out to relax. Try to keep some free time in your busy schedule for yourself. Winter can be stressful.
* Get plenty of sleep.
* Bitters for digestion. If you’re planning on eating a lot during the holidays you might want to try a digestive aid such as some kind of bitters.
* Detox or cleanse. This might be something you want to wait until after the holidays to start. A good cleanse can really leave you feeling better. I’ve done it a few times and my energy level has gone way up after and I’ve just felt lighter. My advice is to start slow and see if it’s right for you. You can find a cleansing kit at most specialty markets or various places online.
* Get a flu shot.
* Take your of vitamins. Stress and long days and nights can really deplete your body and lower your energy level. Vitamins can help.

38 Comments on Winterize Your Body

  1. I think this point is the -most-do- of the whole list:
    Take time out to relax. Try to keep some free time in your busy schedule for yourself. Winter can be stressful.

    The best thing we can do is RELAX from time to time, and as you said, Winter can be stressful. People usually work from home (at least I do) on the crude winters, so you may want to be cool or die young! :)

    We all heard of “Honey! take the childrens away! I need to WORK!”

  2. Elaine says:

    I’ll add two things to the list:

    * try to keep exercising (can be hard for outdoorsy types come the darkness of december)

    * if you feel like you’re about to get sick, take a pre-emptive sick day. I’ve managed to dodge most of the office colds with a combination of this trick and doubling up on fluids. a day of goofing off or sleeping extra seems to stave off being out of commission for several days.

  3. Brian says:

    When you say cleanse what exactly are we talking about here? Tube in a foreign place? Fasting?

  4. rob says:

    > Drink in moderation.
    Fair enough. Booze is dehydrating. At any time of the year.

    > Drink lots of water.
    We’re on a roll. Water is hydrating, and neutral. Especially important in summer, but an all-year-round thing.

    > Wash your hands regularly. You’ll want to keep as clean as you can to avoid germs.
    Er, no. Silly, stupid American thing to do. Just be basically hygenic, and you’ll be fine. A few bugs are a good thing. Don’t obsess over this.

    > Keep your home and work space as clean as possible.
    Why? Chaos sometimes means creativity!

    > Avoid smoking.
    No disagreement there! Smoking is addictive, expensive and unhealthy. Not just a winter thing.

    > Take time out to relax.
    Great suggestion, but not just a winter thing – all year round!

    > Try to keep some free time in your busy schedule for yourself. Winter can be stressful.
    Erm, life can be stressful. Just avoid stress if you can. Be calm.

    > Get plenty of sleep.
    A great suggestion, and particularly good for winter, when daylight hours are fewer. Also good for making children!

    > Bitters for digestion. If you’re planning on eating a lot during the holidays you might want to try a digestive aid such as some kind of bitters.
    Maybe, but why not just eat in moderation (all year round)?

    > Detox or cleanse.
    Better to avoid toxification in the first place!

    > Get a flu shot.
    Silly idea! Just follow a few of your excellent tips above, plus eat a balanced healthy diet and get regular exercise. If you get sick, take it real easy until you’re well and truly back to yourself again before getting back to work. Avoid flu shots like the plague (!) as they don’t give you any immunity for the long-run.

    > Take your of vitamins.
    Pah! Another stupid American obsession! Just have a healthy and balanced diet. Occasionally, you might live somewhere where the land is defficient in something or other, which means you might need to supplement (I must look into taking some selenium for example), or if you’re pregnant consider liquid iron solution (Floradex or similar) to get you by. If you’re planning on getting pregnant, folic acid is a good idea in the lead-up.

    > Stress and long days and nights can really deplete your body and lower your energy level. Vitamins can help.
    Again, commonsense diet, a low stress approach to life, and regular exercise can do wonders for your body. Remember, exercise is energising!

    Have fun!

  5. J.B. says:

    Thanks for the good tips….always nice to get little reminders from time to time, since we all have our moments of weakness.

    And thanks, Rob, for your “silly, stupid” editorials for each one. A simple “I disagree” would suffice, instead of your smug, callous approach. Pah!!

  6. David says:

    Hmmmm drinking in moderation is hard???? I guess I don’t get this one as I don’t drink alcohol.

    You could add having a positive attitude helps too.

  7. Silvia says:

    I’ve adopted the suggestion to drink water this way: PACE click on Step 1 water
    http://www.andrewsinstitute.com/PACETutorial.htm
    Silvia

  8. Aw, I was hoping from the title that you had some ingenious way to make your body not get as cold in the winter. I hate being cold!

  9. Mortgage Zac says:

    hah!
    He did get you there with the year round , not only winter time thing.

    Also, I beilive what Keith means by Detoxifying is a means of flushing your system out with large amounts of water, green tea (unsweetened), or cranberry juice without eating solids for 24-72 hours. It does do wonders for the body.

  10. Sharon says:

    Jennifer, I got sick of being cold all the time, so I made myself a Very Cute Hat out of polar fleece. (Natural fibers would be warmer, but fleece is stretchy, so it made the sewing easier.) I just Googled for hat instructions and winged it.

    I work in a cubicle farm with a pretty sedate, beige dress-code, but nobody really gives me much guff about it. (It’s not an outlandish hat, after all.) And noone can deny that they aircondition this place down to, like, 64F. I suspect others are just jealous of my Very Cute Hat.

  11. Chris says:

    Chapstick, Skin Lotion.

    Winter = Dry Air = Dry skin.

    Keep moisturized.

  12. ZimZim says:

    Don’t touch your face. Very little transmission of colds and flu come through the air, most of it comes through touching surfaces (picking up the bug) and then your nose/eyes/mouth (delivering it to the mucous membranes). This goes double for when you’re on an airplane. Keep a tissue handy if you need to rub your eye or scratch your nose.

  13. Dave says:

    Two suggestions/comments made by “rob” are complete BS.

    You _should_ wash your hands frequently during the winter. Just being “hygenic” doesn’t cut it. The reason you get sick more often in the winter is that you spend more time indoors cooped up with other people and exposed to whatever they have been exposed to. The shortest path for most of these germs is from someone else’s hand (or something they just recently touched) to your hand and from there to your eye or mouth. Get some mini-bottles of the alochol-based gel handwashing lotion (purell, etc) and use it frequently.

    He is also quite clueless regarding getting a flu shot. You should get one, not because it gives you any long-term immunity but because it gives you potential protection from the flu variants that were expected to be most common this year. Flu mutates too quickly for any vaccine to give you long-term protection, the yearly shots are vaccines against three or four of the variants from the previous year which are expected to be most common this year. Sometimes they guess right, sometimes they guess wrong, but getting the shot itself carries almost no risk and has the potential to protect you against a flu strain that you might get exposed to (probably due to running into people like rob who think that washing their hands is something to be done once a week…)

  14. SillyFoo says:

    Regarding flu shots, I’ve never had a flu shot & never caught the flu. Unless you’re in an at-risk population you don’t need a flu shot.

    Most people I know that get a flu shot complain of “flu-like symptoms” for a few days after the shot. IMO, they’ve consciously chosen to get the flu (maybe in a milder form, but if you have “flu-like symptoms” you effectively have the flu).

    Regarding washing hands frequently: wash ’em after toilet use, before food preparation, after handling raw meats, and before eating.
    Wash more than that & you will dehydrate your skin which raises your risk of “catching something”.

    The more you can keep of your natural flora & fauna the better protected you are.

    If you’re washing with anti-bacterial soaps you are contributing to the developmenmt of the super-bugs that are anti-bacterial and anti-biotic resistant.

    Unless you’re in an at-risk population you have no reason to fear a cold or the flu.

    Sure, it’s inconvenient, but you’re better off in the long run fighting it off yourself than attempting to kill it (and all your own natural flora and fauna in the process) with anti-biotics or anti-bacterials.

  15. Secure Steve says:

    Those are all some great tips. I work both inside and outside and find that thermal underwear will do the trick most of the time. If the wind is REALLY biting then the cold still gets you, but the long johns still work great!

  16. Rob Hater says:

    Rob just stressed me out with his self-absorbed, superior-than-thou comments. I’m going for a beer!

  17. a smart person says:

    Drinking extra water for health is a myth – not true. there is no actual science there, just hokum. http://www.snopes.com/toxins/water.htm

    Enemas, energy levels and clensing (ie: clensing toxins) is complet hooey. No science there. Absolute bunga bunga. You might as well say standing on your head keeps the boogey man away. There is just as much science to prove that. This is mostly a bunch of made up stuff with no grounding in reality.

  18. Chrissie says:

    This is hugely important and so often overlooked: Fresh Air is key to staying healthy in winter months. Yes, heating the house is expensive but trust me, if you want to avoid germs, avoid recycled air by opening your window just a crack at least once every couple of days. I often sleep with my window barely open; whats the difference, when you’re all bundled up in bed anyway? The problem is that most of us spend 95% of our winter days in places using recycled air, so germs and bacteria just “hang around” endlessly. Fresh air will do you a world of good… but so many people forget to get some because it’s a little cold outside.

  19. jimminy says:

    “The reason you get sick more often in the winter is that you spend more time indoors cooped up with other people and exposed to whatever they have been exposed to. The shortest path for most of these germs is from someone else’s hand (or something they just recently touched) to your hand and from there to your eye or mouth. Get some mini-bottles of the alochol-based gel handwashing lotion (purell, etc) and use it frequently.”

    Uh, basically, no. The reason you get sick more often is because viruses (cold, flu) like cold weather. unfortunately for you the alcohol based crap isn’t as good as old fashioned hand scrubbing.

    I’ll go for the detox deal when someone can tell me exactly what toxins are in my body, how those specific toxins are removed and how I was stupid enough to put them there in the first place.

  20. Mister Moy says:

    Just a note about “cleansing” -> it may feel good for some people, but doing it too much can be dangerous. It’s also not exactly always safe to do it yourself. You should have a medical professional perform the procedure, or at least consult with one before doing it.

  21. rob says:

    back again!

    i see there are some excellent comments that i hadn’t considered – great!

    for those who couldn’t see past the style of my post … get over it already. so what if i think i’m superior? so what if i seem smug? who cares? who cares what i think of myself? yes i did find some suggestions silly, and some stupid, so i said so. and??

    look past the person/style and you will find information. whether or not you agree is another matter!

    take care!

    rob

    ps. liked the one about going for a beer … :O)

  22. Jacob says:

    As a resident of Winnipeg, MB, we get some of the longest, hardest winters on the planet. I find the best way to thrive in winter is to find an outdoor winter activity that I genuinely enjoy (it sometimes takes a while to find one), where I spend at least two hours a week outside being mobile, no matter the conditions. Winter is just never really intimidating once voluntarily being outside is part of your routine. It has to be something you enjoy, however. Otherwise, you’re just punishing yourself.

  23. Mason says:

    So drinking and smoking aren’t good for your body?

    Who’d a thought!

  24. D says:

    Wow, that was helpful in a ” don’t ignite yourself with a lighter or you will catch fire” kind of way.

    Captain Obvious surrenders.

    I’ve got one. Wear a coat if it’s cold outside.

    Not bad eh? And I don’t even have a website. :)

  25. Chris says:

    A way that I avoid getting sick and I tested this theory last winter and will definitely be doing it again, is I drank a good amount of orange juice every morning, not just occasionally. I never even had a case of the sniffles.

  26. All I wanna know is How do I get [email protected] warm? I stay cold from November to June. I can’t get warm no matter how much I got on. Don’t say “poor circulation”. This is not “poor circulation”. I’m just [email protected] COLD!

  27. P.S. Fish have sex and shit in water. You want to drink that?

  28. Karl says:

    I love (he said sarcastically) the tone of certainty to most of the recommendations here. It’s especially fun when two equally-certain people directly contradict each other.

    And nowhere in this long page is there more than token mention of science, evidence, medical studies, or any of that boring (he said patronizingly) stuff.

    Granted, this is an area where science doesn’t have a whole lot of firm recommendations. Things aren’t always as cut-and-dried as, for example, the rule to put a baby on its back to avoid SIDS. But that’s no excuse to spout your favorite old wives’ tales as if they were the word of god.

    If you’re going to give people advice on how to avoid illness, you ought to include (IMO) at least SOME mention of scientific evidence to back up your recommendations.

  29. Miranda says:

    There’s a difference between “drinking extra water” and “drinking enough water”, and most people do not drink enough. What you’re trying to do is avoid mild dehydration (which will make you feel lousy). Why do you think people who have colds and flus are told to “drink plenty of fluids”? I don’t mean to insinuate that it’s a magic bullet, but that if you’re properly hydrated, you might not need magic bullets. This means that if you’re drinking caffeinated beverages (especially coffee) or alcohol, you need to drink a bit of extra water to make up for their dehydrating nature.

    Two things can be very helpful from several perspectives, in the winter: Emergen-C drink packets, which get vitamin C and electrolytes into your system quickly, and Gatorade, which also does the electrolyte thing. Both are very helpful if you’re feeling dehydrated (cracked lips are a good clue) or have actually gotten sick. The Emergen-C should work about the same way that orange juice does, but isn’t as sugary.

    The “mild flu” reaction to a flu shot isn’t psychosomatic; it’s just a mild and common immune reaction to the vaccine. It’s mentioned and described on the CDC’s information sheet about the vaccine. I get the reaction, and it’s been my excuse for not getting flu shots the last two years. Unlike some other respondents to this post, I don’t “refuse the shot and never get sick” – I get sick anyway whether I have the shot or not. But most people cannot differentiate between a bad cold and actual influenza, because they’re both viral. I have a headache, low fever, sore throat, body aches, and mild swelling and pain at the site of the injection, all of which last three to four days. I don’t think that people who have never actually experienced this reaction – which I would frankly rather not suffer – should be labelling it as psychosomatic.

    Since reading the CDC info, I have decided to start getting the shots again. After refusing one last winter I was sick three times in as many months, vs once all winter as I have been in the years when I got the shot. (Therefore, I suspect that I have still caught colds in the winter, but have avoided most flus in the years when I’ve accepted the shot.) The flu shots are helpful, though not a panacea, if you are sickly. If you are generally healthy and rarely get ill, you may wish to just suffer through any flus that you get.

    But don’t be one of those people who never admits that they’re ill and drags themselves into work anyway and coughs all over everything while claiming to be “fine.” (Clearly, you can’t be sick, because you “never get sick,” because you believe in mind over matter.) Seriously, you’re just getting everyone else sick, including maybe the people who are not as healthy as you and will be knocked on their butts for a week or two no matter how well they try to take care of themselves. (I’m not bitter.) It’s a matter of microbes, closed environments, and recycled air, not “mind over matter.”

    As far as the handwashing, a couple of different opinions have been expressed. The minimum hand-washing has been described (food prep, bathroom, before eating, etc), but it’s also true that you should never touch your face with dirty hands. In this case, antibacterial gels and creams (I prefer antibacterial lotions) can be really helpful. But as far as washing your hands, plain soap, with lots of warm water and friction, works very well, actually better than a 5-second wash with antibacterial soap and cold water.

    I don’t think that anyone should have to search out and link complicated studies about this information. Most of it has appeared widely. Stuff that’s more related to questionable, opinion-centered alternative medicine is another issue. I don’t think a “detox cleanse” is really going to do that much for you except perhaps give you a lingering aftertaste of dandelion root or, even worse, black walnut (have you TASTED that stuff. my god. it is like unto death, only less nice.) Most of the rest of the advice given in the original post is pretty sound… following it certainly won’t HURT.

  30. Miranda says:

    PS – re “dirty hands” – well, we all know that WE, being attractive and conscientious individuals, always wash our hands after we use the bathroom, and never sneeze or cough into our hands, but always into the crook of our arms. Alas! Not everyone manages these simple safeguards.

    So: if you’ve handled a public doorknob or two, your hands are most likely “dirty” (or at least dirty enough that you shouldn’t be touching your face with them, or your phone or computer, because sooner or later you’re going to touch those things and then touch your face, forgetting about the doorknob). Ditto if you’ve handled money, or the office coffee pot, or etc. If you open doors with your sleeve over your hand or bring an extra paper towel back from the bathroom, you’re fine. Otherwise, you have hands that are at least a little dirty on the microbial level. They’ll never be completely clean anyway, but you can at least reduce the risk of picking things up and/or passing them around.

    I’m not saying, “LIVE IN FEAR OF GERMS!” – they’re everywhere, and many are neutral or beneficial. I AM saying to use common sense about how microbes are transmitted. So: if you want to avoid antibacterial gels and creams, at least cover your hands when touching doorknobs and other frequently-handled “public surfaces”, and wash your hands after messing with money, especially money you’ve just been handed by a cashier.

  31. Dave says:

    jiminy writes:
    > The reason you get sick more often is because
    > viruses (cold, flu) like cold weather. unfortunately
    > for you the alcohol based crap isn’t as good as
    > old fashioned hand scrubbing.

    First of all, virii like cold weather no more than you do, less so really since it tends to decrease the metabolic rate of their hosts and therefore decrease their rate of spread. Either way, virii have no affinity for cold weather, it is simple the change in behavior related to this weather that increases their transmission.

    As for the assertion that “old fashioned hand scrubbing” is better than an alcohol-based gel: wrong. Hospitals are moving to these for a reason, and they know more about infection transmission than you do. Specifically I would point you to “Zaragoza, M and Salles, M, et al. Handwashing with soap or alcoholic solutions? A randomized clinical trial of its effectiveness. Amer Jour of Infec Control. 27(3):258-261.” which showed that soap and water scrubbing reduced colony-forming bacteria by ~50% while alcohol-based gels reduced the bacteria load on hands by more than 80%.

  32. Andy says:

    I would tend to agree with the non-handwashing comments that a little bit of dirt does seem to keep our immune systems on their toes.

    As a generalisation the dirtiest people I know are the ones who have the least amounts of coughs and sneezes, while some of the cleanest ones who use antibacterial everything seem to get quite regular colds.

    From what I’ve read and heard elsewhere I don’t think it’s just me that has noticed this trend either.

  33. Tom M says:

    Need a little help here with detox/cleansing: does anyone (particularly you, Mr. Keith) have a suggestion on how to start, or where to go to get good, quality info online? Maybe some kits, or something?

    Also, Rob is a tool.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!! :D

  34. Keith says:

    Tom — I’ve used the Zand kit before and it seemed like a good, easy on the system, starter.

  35. ryan says:

    Drink in moderation. I know it can be hard, especially during the holidays, but the more you can limit your alcohol in take the less chance you have of getting sick.

    what medical data do you have that proves this?

  36. Re Drink in moderation to not get sick-
    I guess when you’re drunk you are less careful about coughing into the crook of your elbow, washing hands and touching doorknobs. :)

    Good about coughing into the crook of your arm though- I mean we shake hands and touch doorknobs and phones and keyboards and and and.

    Seems VitC won’t help much during a cold, but dosing up before you get something reduces the duration of the cold.

    And coming to work sick without SARS-style masks is not cool.

  37. This is Julie Lorraine Jackson I want go dating man with out smoking pot anyway ok. I am 43 yrs old as I live in Leamington, Ontario canada as I am single lady as quiet with roomate my brother Stu and I have one cat name is Garfield jr anyway. Stu have job at heinz and I just keep clean up little bit of my time free okay. Take me easy for me ok. I was passed out true few yrs ago but I have some pills for me anyway. From Julie Lorraine Jackson as blood weak that why I have anemia pills and vitamia pills as Stu is take care of me and support me all the time. My parents were passed away true.
    from Julie Lorraine Jackson

  38. Kendra says:

    Fastin is although a good way to get more energie for the winter.
    But if you want to get more energy I recommend to
    do a colon cleanse, recipes for that could be found
    at http://www.homemadebodycleanse.com

    There are several possiblities to cleanse,
    herbs, ion cleanse or even better just a master cleanse.

Leave a Reply