Clinical Nutritionist Michelle Miller, MSACN shares a few tips for staying healthy this winter, both physically and mentally. Most people find themselves getting stressed out, sick, and fatigued during the winter months.
Most New Yorker’s are vitamin D deficient, and vitamin D deficiency has been linked with depression, bone loss, several autoimmune diseases, and many other inflammatory conditions. Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory benefits and supports healthy hormone levels which make it great for beating the winter blues. Studies have shown it may also play a role in preventing colds.1 Vitamin D can be found in foods like beef liver, egg yolks, and fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, and tuna. However, the best way to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D year rounds is by taking a whole food supplement in vitamin D3 form. Most people need a dosage of 2000-4000IUs per day of a quality vitamin D supplement. Getting your vitamin D level checked by your healthcare provider is the best way to be certain of what your body needs.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory and can be found in flax seed, fish, chia seeds, and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids support healthy hair and skin, cholesterol levels, and they support brain function including memory and healthy hormone levels. If you have trouble getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from your diet, a cod liver oil supplement is a great way to not only supply your body with rich omega-3’s, but also vitamin D. It’s important to make sure your omega-3 supplement is third party tested in order to avoid rancid or contaminated oils. Also, be sure to refrigerate your supplement once it has been opened.
During these dry winter months it‘s extra important to stay hydrated. Did you know that the first sign of dehydration is not thirst, but fatigue? Aim at consuming half your body weight in ounces of water per day (200 lbs=100 oz of water). This will also help to keep your skin hydrated and healthy, and flush out toxins on a daily basis.
It is easy to get lazy this time of year (especially when the sun is setting at 4 pm!). Getting even 20-30 minutes of exercise each day can benefit not only your physical wellness, but also your mental well-being. Studies show that exercise decreases stress and anxiety, while also increasing endorphin production.2 Regular exercise can also lower inflammation and improve sleep.3,4
Incorporating warming herbs into your cooking such as garlic, cinnamon, and ginger can be a great way to enhance the nutritional content of your foods, while supporting the immune system. Try adding parsley and cilantro to support detoxification, turmeric, which helps to lower inflammation, or basil and rosemary that have anti-bacterial properties. High temperatures can breakdown some of the nutritional properties of these herbs. Adding herbs in the last stage of cooking can help retain its vitamins and minerals.
- Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA (February 2009). “Association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and upper respiratory tract infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey”. Arch. Intern. Med. 169 (4): 384–90.
- Blumenthal James A., Babyak Michael A., Doraiswamy Murali, Watkins Lara, Hoffman Benson M., Barbour Krista A., Herman Steve, Craighead W. Edward, Brosse Alisha L., Waugh Robert, Hinderliter Alan, Sherwood Andrew (September 2007). “Exercise and pharmacotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder”. Psychosomatic Medicine 69 (7): 587–596.
- Swardfager W (2012). “Exercise intervention and inflammatory markers in coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis.”. Am. Heart. J. 163 (4): 666–76.
- Youngstedt, S.D. (April 2005). “Effects of exercise on sleep”. Clin Sports Med.24 (2): 355–65.