3 Reasons You Are Likely To Get Sick In Winter and What You Can Do About It
While the winter months are best known for bringing the excitement of the holidays and new year, they can also bring unwanted coughs, sniffles, and sore throats…not mention the flu symptoms! While the flu shot has been marketed as a way to prevent the flu, that is not fully true. According to the CDC, the flu vaccine is only modestly effective, even less so in older adults (1). Some people are better able to avoid catching the worst colds and flu, while others seem to come down with every little cold all the time!
Of course there are healthy habits we can implement like washing hands and avoiding close contact with others, and this article look at three lesser known reasons why your body may be more challenged this time of year than other seasons.
1. More time indoors
Problem: During the colder winter months, we tend to spend more time indoors, celebrating holidays with friends and family. This provides an enclosed environment for bacteria and viruses to spread easily and quickly. Since germs can be transmitted either by contact or aspiring (breathing them in), you should very cautious who you spend your holidays with!
Solution: If it’s not entirely possible to avoid sick people, essential oils can be a powerful ally in reducing your chances to catching a cold. Thieves’ oil from Young Living, On Guard from DoTerra, or other brands have been shown to be antimicrobial and antibacterial against pseudomonas aeruginosa and staphylococcus aureus (2). There are different ways to protect yourself including wearing oils topically, diffusing them, or diluting them in water to clean surfaces with.
2. Out of Rhythm
Problem: We are designed to live in tune with the natural cycles of life; sleep-wake, fast-feast, day-night, etc. During winter, the days are much shorter and nights much longer in duration. This ratio of more dark than light hours is a sign to all other mammals to slow down, and for some, hibernate. The problem for humans arises because even though we should be getting more rest, our daily lifestyles do not allow for the extra downtime our bodies require. Days get shorter, but many people still have to work 9 to 5. This causes a disharmony between our body cycles and the cycle of nature, causing high levels of stress in the body. In fact, one study showed that sleepiness surpasses alcohol and drugs as the greatest identifiable and preventable cause of accidents in all modes of transportation (3)!
Solution: Do not sacrifice sleep. It is nature’s best remedy. When we sleep deeply, the body’s immune and repair systems are most effective. Limit your exposure to artificial light 1-2 hours prior to sleep, or use blue light blocking glasses to help your body secrete more melatonin, the sleep neurotransmitter (4).
3. Nutrient Depletion
Problem: The winter brings holidays like Christmas and New Years’ celebrations, and with them, lots of sweets and processed foods. Consuming these types of junk foods depletes our cellular stores of B vitamins, magnesium, and other important nutrients that our body needs to maintain healthy immune cells. To make matters worse, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee states that 5 of the top 10 sources of calories for Americans come from grain-based desserts, breads, soda, pizza, and pasta dishes, most people’s diets have already depleted there micronutrient levels (5)!
Solution: Focus on eating a nutrient dense, whole foods diet rich in B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc to give your immune system the necessary building blocks to fight off any unwanted bugs. Having a diet full of micronutrients is the best remedy for keeping your immune system strong!
Keeping yourself resilient around the winter holidays can be challenging. And, without the proper health testing, you might feel even more confused on how to act. If you are one of those people who seems to catch everything from everyone, no matter what season it is, you may have a deeper underlying health concern that your medical doctor is not detecting (6). Since prescription drugs only mask the symptoms, you may need specialized testing to address the root cause. Visit our page to find out how a functional medicine approach can help you!