10 Things…How to stay healty this winterPublished 12:27pm Thursday, February 7, 2013
1. Drink Green Tea
The benefits of drinking green tea come from the plant-derived compounds that are high in antioxidants. Green tea is often more powerful than vitamins C and E in preventing and halting oxidative damage to cells. Green tea has also been associated with lowering risk for skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal and bladder cancer. Be sure to steep your tea for 3-5 minutes before drinking to get all the benefits. Instant, bottled and decaffeinated teas will not provide as much benefit – so drink the real thing!
2. Stay Hydrated
Yes, you should still drink plenty of water each day. How much depends on your activity level, environment, health, and if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. When we live in Minnesota – we also have low humidity – so our skin dries out faster. We lose water by breathing, sweating, and using the restroom. Those fluids need replaced each day. The “drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day” still is the best average, and easy to remember. Your body will tell you if you need more. You can replace fluids with other liquids, as well – even beer, wine and coffee and tea – but water is the most accessible and least expensive way.
3. Get enough Sleep
There’s no magic number that fits every person on how much sleep you need. Some may get by on just 6-7 hours a night, while others may need 9-10. Again, 8 hours of sleep is a nice average to keep in mind. If you are having trouble staying focused at work or school, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can affect both physical and mental health, causing heart disease, and lead to occupational injuries. Your body is better able to fight off even simple viruses like colds and flu if you get the rest you need. Make sure you schedule time to sleep!
4. Stay Active
It’s easy to feel like hibernating when it’s cold outside – but even if you stay indoors – you need to stay active. It’s even better if you go for a short walk outside in the fresh air – or even go walk around the mall. Join a gym in the cold months. Buy an exercise video and dance and sing along. Walk up and down the stairs. Set an alarm and walk around your house every hour. You get the idea – it doesn’t have to be an hour long work out everyday – but anything you do is better than nothing! You’ll feel better and stay in shape.
5. Be Social
Stay in contact with friends – in person. Put down the electronics and call a friend. Host a game night. Set “dates” for the winter to meet friends for dinner and a movie. Go shopping together. Meet for coffee. Take a social dance class with friends. Loneliness can also lead to depression. Having a highly active social life can decrease Alzheimer’s disease risk by a surprisingly high 70 percent, according to new findings published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. So put yourself out there and find a group to share and laugh with!
6. Eat Healthy
Even though the comfort foods that we all loved as kids are perfect for those cold winter months, try to change them up a bit to be healthier. Make those delicious soups and stews using leaner meats and more vegetables. Cut down on the oil – and replace with healthier Olive oil. Use fresh produce that is in “season” – like potatoes, onions, chard, avocados, bananas, kiwis and apples. The fresher the produce – the more vitamins they retain. You can look almost anywhere on the web for lighter, healthier recipes to curb those winter cravings.
7. Get Involved
From the Senior Centers to the Parent Teacher Associations – there’s always a need for volunteers for any age. Service clubs like Kiwanis, Rotary, Sertoma and Lions are all active in our area all year round. Schools love to have mentors read to students, and nursing homes treasure volunteers coming in to talk with their clients. Your local library can use you to dust shelves or put books away. Find an interest you enjoy and you’ll find others that need your help.
8. Live Stress-Free/Take 5 Everyday
Whether it’s from work, your kids, or simply your daily to-do list like laundry and baking cookies, stress can pop up in everyday life. Learn to take 5 minutes every morning to list the things you need to get done – and then prioritize the list. There are only so many minutes in a day, so if something on the list can wait – move it to the next day. And then take 5 minutes every couple of hours to just breathe, relax, and clear your mind. If you feel stress coming on – that’s the perfect time to take 5 and just close your eyes and breathe.
9. Take Your Vitamin D
We may be hearty Northerners, but a common problem for us in the winter is Vitamin D deficiency. A lack of Vitamin D can cause fatigue, body aches, and even difficulty controlling weight. We need to replace our natural sunlight, which is the best source of Vitamin D, with supplements or foods that can replenish our supply. The normal person needs 2000-4000 units of Vitamin D each day. Even if you are taking a regular multivitamin each day – those typically only contain 400 units of Vitamin D. You will need more. You can also get Vitamin D in your diet – by eating green, leafy vegetables, fish from the ocean and sun fresh produce such as mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes.
10. Drink wine
That’s right. A glass of RED wine has all these health benefits: reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia; reduced risk for suffering from a stroke; can help prevent a heart attack and heart disease; helps with weight management; reduces the risk of type 2 Diabetes; promotes healthy lungs; combats ovarian, prostate and colon cancers; and improves bone density and reduces osteoporosis. All that from a glass of red wine a day! But remember, all things in moderation.