– Dr. Meghan MacKinnon, ND
Markham Naturopathic Doctor
I hate to say it residents of York Region, but in Markham we experienced our first frost this past week. You may be putting your snow tires on your car, digging out your winter gear and putting up Christmas lights but what can you do to better prepare yourself and your families for another Ontario winter? A drop in internal body temperature whether you are inside or outside can lower your immune system and predispose you to getting colds and flus. Since we all want to stay healthy this winter and unfortunately can’t hibernate over these next few months check out the tips below to stay warm and healthy!
1. Cover Up!: Get out those long johns and turtle necks! Remember that scarfs can also be worn inside at the office or around the house. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is very important to protect the back of your neck and your mid-drift area to prevent getting sick– this means no belly tops! Cotton is something that can make matters worse because it absorbs sweat which can make you even colder.
2. Eat Warm Foods: If you want to conserve your warmth try to stay away from those salads, raw foods and smoothies. Although these options are very healthy trying to switch to more soups, stews and steamed veggies at this time of year can really help keep you feeling toasty.
3. Winterize your Home: Stay warm in your home and save on your heating bill by making sure that all windows and doors are properly sealed to avoid drafts.
4. Check your Thyroid: Your thyroid gland is responsible for you metabolic rate which includes your body temperature! If you have signs of low temperature, fatigue and sluggishness, constipation and dry skin you should see your naturopathic doctor or primary care physician to assess if you have hypothyroidism, which may make staying warm even more difficult.
5. Spice it Up: Try experimenting with warming spices in your cooking. Try adding turmeric, cayenne, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom or cloves to your soups and to switch up your regular dishes. These spices are also great brewed together in a warm tea with a little bit of almond milk to keep your insides warm! Cayenne can even be added in small amounts to your boots, shoes and mitts to keep you warm, but be careful if you have reduced feeling in your extremities because this spice can really burn if you aren’t careful.
6. Improve Your Circulation: There are many simple ways to get your blood flowing to your hands and feet, but first it is important to rule out and address underlying causes of poor circulation such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Next stop smoking and get moving!
7. Hot and Cold Showers: Another great way to get your circulation up is to try hot and cold showers. By alternating between temperature extremes our blood vessels dilate in the warmth, then constrict again in the cold diverting blood internally to our organs. Try doing this in a 3:1 ratio of time spent in hot to cold and always end on cold!
8. Be Active: Getting exercise is one of the best ways to naturally generate heat in your body and also keeps your immunity up to prevent you from getting sick. Although it’s cold enjoy the time you spend outdoors by going skiing, skating or walking around your neighbourhood looking at Christmas lights.
9. Cuddle: Find your favourite person, pet or blanket and snuggle up with in front of the fire. Body heat is one of the best sources to keep you warm!
10. Supplementation: See your Naturopath to see if supplementation can help you with your body heat. Herbs such as Ginkgo biloba and fish oils both have the ability to improve circulation if this is one of the causes of your cold feet, but it is always best to work with someone to determine which supplements are best for you.