Layer upon layer of bulky winter gear helps Canadians to ward off the season’s bite for a time, but there are other ways to keep the persistent cold at bay for the long term. The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) recommends a winter regime of exercise, a hearty and healthy diet, and natural health support to keep you warm, even through the worst of the season.
Regular exercise gets the blood pumping and blood vessels dilating, helping to distribute warmth to our extremities. A good workout also burns calories, a process that produces lasting heat, so keep moving. The rush of endorphins we get from exercising is another important benefit, especially in winter, because they help to balance our mood and combat the “winter blues”, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If the gym is not your thing, try Ashtanga yoga, an activity that teaches special breathing techniques to promote internal body heat, as well as mindfulness to combat stress.
What we eat and drink has a lasting effect on our ability to keep warm. In particular, spicy foods help to raise our metabolism, which allows our bodies to produce heat faster. Try using ginger, cayenne pepper, and more garlic when you prepare hearty meals, as well as other nutrient-rich ingredients like tomatoes, leafy greens, and beans. In addition, water is great at retaining heat, so drinking eight to 10 cups of water a day, will keep you hydrated and warm. Drinking herbal teas or infusing your water with seasonal fruits adds nutritional benefits and flavour.
Natural Health Support
Despite our best efforts, it is rare that we are able to get all the nutrients we need from our food alone. Supplementation is a convenient way to fill those nutritional gaps, especially in winter. To start, make sure you get the recommended daily dose of all B vitamins, which helps to increase blood flow and maintain our body’s internal temperature. A vitamin D supplement, essential for disease prevention and many of the body’s vital functions, is universally recommended for Canadians during the winter months. And, adding a quality omega-3 supplement to your regime not only contributes to heart health, but it has also been associated with reducing the risk of a number of chronic diseases, and helps to keep skin moisturized from the inside out through the cold, dry winter.
It is always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider for more personalized health advice, including the specific supplements and dosages that are right for you. Assistance to find a health food store in your neighbourhood is available online at chfa.ca.