Dodging those Winter Health WoesFor some people winter is a time associated with long months of cold weather, grey skies, short days with limited sunshine, and depressive moods. Winter is also a time when sniffles and sneezes, the flu and colds are more common. It’s a time when we need to carefully practice good lifestyle habits that boost our immune systems. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding too much sugar are certainly good health habits to follow at this time.
Sleep deprivation, and physical and psychological stress will depress the immune system, while a regular moderate exercise program keeps the immune system healthy. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, with their high content of carotenoids and flavonoids, enhances immune function as does a positive mental outlook. Negative emotional states such as deep sorrow, anger, apathy, and depression disable the immune system. Norman Cousins wrote that “hope, purpose, and determination are not merely mental states- they have electrochemical connections that play a large part in the workings of the immune system (1).” Furthermore, we see that when the mind is happy from a sense of duty well done, and from the satisfaction of giving help to others, the person experiences a rejuvenation of life (2). Joyful songs and holiday festivities with family and friends that provides emotional support can also lift the spirits and kick-start the immune system.
1. Head First, page 73.
2. Ministry of Healing, p.257
Author: Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.
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