We’ve had a few days of rain, so you know what that means… it’s winter in California! It’s true, we may not have the most extreme winter in the country, but we still do have seasons! The temperature, light, wind, and holiday feasts can all affect our health and wellness. Even here in “sunny” California, winter so often becomes a slow shuffle between catching colds, holiday hangovers, and way too much Netflix. So here are our top tips on what you can eat, take, and do for thriving through the winter season.

The Top 10 Tips for Winter Wellness:

1. Cozy up to Tea, Not Coffee

We know all the sugary comfort drinks are a big part of the season, but they aren’t doing your body any good. Indoor air systems, especially heaters, breed colds and coughs and sugary, milky coffee does nothing to boost your immunity. So if your co-workers are coughing away or you feel the beginnings of a scratchy throat, power up to fight back. Instead, try ginger tea sweetened with honey and pomegranate juice. This cold-care concoction is both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant rich and super effective at keeping germs at bay.

 

 

2. Power up Your Immunity to Fight off those Winter Colds

Vitamin C helps keep your immune system healthy and can help reduce the length and severity of a cold if you get one which is great news! However, it is no use swallowing endless vitamin C supplements once you already a cold – too little, too late. Instead, boost your diet all winter long with foods rich in vitamin C, like lemons, oranges, sweet potatoes, and carrots. That way, if you do get a cold – hopefully, it won’t last as long! Add lemon juice to cold or hot water every morning for an easy way to add a boost of Vitamin C to your daily routine.

 

 

3. Shake up your body!

Colder, darker days can make the couch a very appealing place to be – but, keeping active keeps your mood up, so find a way to keep moving! Don’t be afraid of the rain, get a good umbrella and coat – you can still enjoy a walk when there are a few raindrops. See what classes are going on at your local gym, or go on a hike with friends on those non-rainy days. Best time to work-out during the winter is the morning. Since daylight is so scarce, making the most of it and getting in as much Vitamin D into your skin as possible will help fight off the winter blues.

 

4. Make the Most of Nutritious Winter Fruits and Vegetables

Eating during winter doesn’t have to be boring and vitamin deficient. Keep simple carbs like white bread and pasta to a minimum and fill your plate with complex carbs like dark leafy greens, winter squash, and sweet potatoes which thrive in the chill of winter.
For breakfast, instead of reaching for sweet holiday pastries, try a citrus salad bursting with vitamin C! Winter fruits like grapefruit, tangerines, pomegranates, and apples are all laden with nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber which increase your energy and help keep that winter-weight away while keeping your mind and body vital.

 

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5. Increase Omega-3 Fatty Acids to fight Depression

“The holidays are a perfect storm for mild depression,” says Evangeline Lausier, MD, of Durham, North Carolina. Thanks to too many obligations, and cold and dark days, it’s common to feel a dip in serotonin levels. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish (such as salmon and sardines), have been shown to improve cognitive function. Lentils, meanwhile, are a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin.

 

 

6. Fight the Flu with Stew

There’s a reason stew is so popular in winter and it isn’t just because it’s comforting. Our bodies digestion naturally slows down in winter and takes more energy to break down complicated raw foods. Making vitamin-rich veggie stews is a great way to consume all those necessary vitamins and minerals in a tummy-friendly easy-to-break-down way. Since your body isn’t spending as much energy on digestion, it’s free to work on fighting off germs. When flu season hits, start preparing stews a meal full of any of these immune-boosting flu fighters: mushrooms, kale, red bell pepper, sweet potatoes, garlic, Brazil nuts, whole grains, and beans.

 

 

7. Protect Your Skin From the Inside-Out and Outside-In

Cold, dry air quickly sucks moisture from our skin. Combine that with a blasting of hot air from a central heating unit and some nice scratchy winter fabric and your skin can end up being one dry, itchy, scaly mess. Keep moisture locked into your skin with a heavy moisturizer or coconut oil. Lather it on every time you bath or shower or whenever your skin feels dry. Drink plenty of water and eat foods like berries which are high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, walnuts, or take omega-3 supplements), and consider using a humidifier to help add moisture to the air.

8. Say NO to Blue Light and Screens at Night

Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by the hormone melatonin, which is released in response to light. Exposing yourself to too much light at night – such as that emitted from computer screens, TV screens or electronic devices – inhibits the release of melatonin which decreases sleep quality and quantity. This makes us feel sluggish and tired the next day.

9. Have a Healthier Hangover

Holiday parties are unavoidable, and they should be! Having fun and celebrating with family and friends is the best part of the season. Just make sure that one night doesn’t throw your whole week out of whack. To feel like yourself again, try a restorative breakfast of oatmeal with walnuts (omega-3s help reduce inflammation) and blueberries (packed with polyphenols and vitamin C). Whatever you do, avoid coffee and greasy foods. They increase inflammation and will only leave you feeling worse!

10. Give to others

This may seem like an obvious one (as it’s called the Season of Giving) but “giving” doesn’t always mean gifts. The holiday season, despite all its joy & cheer, can be a stressful time of year. From worrying about money, extra-long hours at work, in-laws, or figuring out how everyone is going to get along on the big day… sometimes we just take on more stress than we can deal with. A really great way to get out of your own head and bring yourself back to the meaning of the season is to donate your time to those who are less fortunate. Find a shelter, charity, or church that is doing good work in your community and find a way to dedicate a few hours of your weekend to help them. If you want to young mothers in Los Angeles, find out how we work with St. Annes here.

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