February 15, 2019 -- Much of the United States has been experiencing a polar
vortex of snow, ice and negative temperatures that keeps us inside – often snuggled
up with a box of tissues. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention says common colds (there are millions of cases each
year in the United States) are the main reason that children miss school and
adults miss work. What’s more, the peak of flu season
can occur anywhere from late November through March.
Why the spike in the winter? Germs actually travel
faster in the cold air, and being inside more often makes it harder to prevent
illness, said Theresa DeLorenzo, DCN, RD, director of Logan University’s
nutrition and human performance program. To help us all stay healthy through
the cold and gray months, Dr. DeLorenzo offers a few practical tips:
outside. Whether it’s a walk in the morning, on your lunch
break or in the evening after work, try to spend some time in the fresh air
each day – it can boost your mood and physical health.
Your body needs at least eight hours of shuteye each night to help fight off
- Exercise. Join
your local gym, take a spin class, walk or run outside, or follow a few fitness
videos online from the comfort of your own home. It doesn’t matter how you move
your body – just that you are active. If you do hit up the gym, be sure to
sanitize equipment before and after each use to decrease the spread of germs.
hydrated. It’s a common misconception that you don’t have to
drink as much water during the colder months as you would during the warmer
months, but your body needs water regardless of outdoor temps. Aim to drink
eight glasses a day.
plenty of fruits and vegetables. Nutrients we receive from
produce, such as vitamins A and C, help fight illness and strengthen the immune
system, as does zinc, which is found in chicken, nuts and shellfish.
with Vitamin D. During the winter months, anyone who lives
above 30 degrees latitude (Boston and further north) is unable to synthesize
Vitamin D from the sun. Since Vitamin D is not present in large doses in foods
(fortified milk, shiitake mushrooms and eggs are a few good sources), Dr.
DeLorenzo recommends supplementing with 400 to 1,000 IUs of Vitamin D from
October to March.