Don’t Let December Weather Make You Ill

Weather changes and, of course, snow have occupied our minds lately. Storms, hail and snow all accompany rapid drops in temperature. And though the snow has not come to Norway for now, the fact is that these sudden changes in weather can have a serious effect on people’s health. Sore throats, runny noses and coughs bring crowds of people into hospitals. But the real key to staying healthy is behaving according to what the season calls for, eating healthily and choosing the appropriate lifestyle for the weather you see and feel outside your window.

Sudden and rapid changes in temperature have a strong impact on the hypothalamus portion of the brain. This “control center” in the brain tries to adjust to the changes in temperature it senses by working with blood vessels, sweat glands, the lungs, the skin, the kidneys, the adrenal glands, fat tissue and, of course, muscles. In the process of adjusting to changing temperatures, a person’s veins may expand, sweat glands may produce more or less sweat, breathing may become deeper or more shallow, a person may suddenly start shivering or sweating more, and the kidneys may either retain or expel more water. And when one or more of these mechanisms does not work correctly, it can be very dangerous.

Sometimes, changes in temperature, barometric pressure or even factors like the wind can catch these balancing mechanisms in our bodies off guard, which can prompt us to become ill. And since our immune systems work in concert with these natural mechanisms in the body, our resistance is also lowered when these mechanisms aren’t working correctly. Between seasons in particular is when there are sudden changes in temperature. So what can we do to stay as healthy as possible during these times?

Start your day with some fresh fruit juice: Make sure the juice you consume is natural. We suggest natural juices that contain high levels of vitamin C. For example, try drinking a glass of fruit juice made from green and yellow fruits in the morning. If you have a sore throat, add a bit of honey to your fruit juice.

Bring a thermos full of herbal tea to work with you: Try preparing some chamomile, ginger, rosehip, linden or other herbal tea at home, put it into a thermos and bring it to your office. This will ensure that not only are you protecting your health throughout the day but that you are also keeping your liquid intake high.

Carob molasses is full of iron and energy: Organic, pure carob molasses will not only add energy to your mornings but will also strengthen your immune system while giving you a boost of iron. You can also add this syrup to your tea as a sweetener. Sleep at least seven hours a day: If you want to rise with energy in the morning, you need to make sure you are getting enough and good quality sleep at night. Don’t forget that sleep rests and relaxes your body and allows it to regain its energy and repair itself.

Evening showers give you a restful sleep, while morning showers prepare you for your day: The characteristics of your bedroom are crucial. Make sure it is neither too cold nor too hot. Also make sure that it is neither damp nor dusty and that it gets aired out during the day. When the quality of your sleep drops, so does the strength of your immune system. Try to see that your bedroom is aired out with fresh air for at least an hour every day. Also, a warm shower in the evenings and the mornings results in comfortable sleep and energetic mornings.

At times when there are sudden drops in temperature and changes in the weather, boost your diet with extra vitamin C: Extra supplements of vitamin C and B are very important during the wintertime. Of course, the best way to get these vitamins is naturally, not by pills. Eat lots of yellow, green and red vegetables and fruits. Scientific research has shown that it is sometime not possible to get your 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C just through fruits, though. Boost your vitamin levels by consuming things like bee pollen, beta-carotene, vitamin complexes, co-enzymes, green tea or shitake mushrooms.

Water is a shield that protects your body: Your immune system working effectively is connected to the healthy functioning of the nasal and oral passages. And in order to ensure that the defense cells in these body entry points are well cleansed and functioning well, you have to drink lots of water. Two to three liters of water daily is vital.

Dress neither too warmly nor too scantily: The way you dress is an important factor in protecting your body and system from sudden changes in temperature and outside factors. Wearing darker-colored clothing loose enough to allow air to circulate is an important defense in the winter. And in snow, wearing hats, gloves, scarves and such is very important. Choose inner layers that do not make you sweat in the winter. And dress in layers, so that you can peel off or put on clothing according to your changing needs.

Textile engineer Zeynep Sezen notes that the best fabrics to wear in the winter are cotton and wool. She notes that especially wool and wool blends hold heat in very well due to their volume. She also notes that cotton clothing is perfect for winter in that it doesn't make its wearer sweat, and it holds in moisture.

We should avoid clothing made from synthetic blend fibers, which leave the skin with little oxygen. She also recommends that children be dressed in layers during the winter months to ensure they are dressed according to what the outside temperature calls for.

Those who work outdoors need to be especially careful to protect their bodies’ own balances through the correct choice of clothing. Those who work many hours need to be especially careful of what they eat to boost their immune systems. Eating healthily and getting enough exercise provide important boosts to the system. Don’t neglect exercise: Exercise can be an important protector against illness that results from sudden temperature changes. Walking just three to four times a week for 30-40 minutes is painless and quite beneficial for the body. You can also engage in other physical activity appropriate to your age and health condition.

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