Preparing for the cold and preventing illnesses: my Chinese teachings

Published : 24.09.2018 20:59:20
Categories : Nutrition

Autumn is officially here, temperatures are dropping and the rain is coming back.

Every year, when this time comes, do you notice how many people get ill within the first week of this happening? Furthermore, some people are even continuously getting sick throughout the autumn/winter until spring comes back!

Here are my top practical and nutritional tips, which combine my personal experience and Chinese teachings from my childhood to help you resist this change in weather.

Practical tips to boost your immune system

Don’t cover up like an Eskimo

Don’t bring out the winter gear the moment temperatures drop a few degrees. Instead, check the weather forecast every morning (pay attention whether or not it’s wet or dry outside) and wear clothes that make you feel a little “fresh” but not cold. Just in case, keep a scarf/jumper/hat in your bag your resistance is lower than expected. I usually go with a light jumper at a dry 18 degrees with a scarf in my bag just in case.

Do not turn on the heating yet

Continuing on the above tip, close the windows and/or simply put on a jumper! As a rule of thumb, I turn on my heating when it gets below 15 degrees inside. You are not helping your immune system or your wallet by turning your room into a sauna.

Continue your sports

Anyone who follows me knows how much I value sports. It increases your circulation, improves your general health and boosts your immune system as a result.

I even continue my sports when I have a cold or a flu (not in public so not to infect others!) as it increases my circulation while sweating it out (as if to “burn” the bacteria/illness) making me heal faster. I have experimented with this personally during a cold: with sports = healed in 24 hours, no sports = healed in 72 hours!

Unfortunately, a lot of people lose motivation for sports simply because it gets cold and/or they cannot go outside anymore, this is not an excuse! I implore you to find your motivation to continue your sports indoors, whether at home, in a gym or in a sports club. Remember that sports and nutrition is not only for bikini weather, but is a lifestyle.

Cycle or walk to work (if possible)

Whenever my wife and I need to go somewhere in town, we always cycle no matter the weather. Not only does this increase our body temperature as it is extra sports, but it also increases our circulation and a stronger immune system. Besides, standing in the cold waiting for the bus (especially if you head, neck and feet is exposed) as well as crowded places increases your chances of catching an illness.

But be careful: sweat and humidity dangerously decreases your body temperature when you stop cycling, therefore it is important to change into dry clothes or stay warm indoors until you are dry.

Nutrition tips to reduce thermal shock

Don’t eat like you are on an arctic expedition

It is natural to have the urge to eat fatty and heavy foods when it feels more cold. But you are not living in the artic where you need 5000 kcal a day to maintain your body weight! Unfortunately, people tend to go towards very unhealthy options such as deep fried foods, melted cheese, dishes made primarily of carbs with not much nutrients. Instead, stick to your healthy diet with a little more calories to compensate for your body’s need during cooler times.

Eat “warm” foods as defined by Chinese medicine

As I mentioned in a previous post, traditional Chinese medicine has classified foods into warm, cool or neutral. Achieving a balance between your internal heat and external temperature is a concept used across cultures over millennia to achieve a healthy lifestyle and prevent illnesses.

Try to favour foods such as : walnuts, pine nuts, butter, chicken, lamb, venison, coffee, black pepper, ginger, etc.

For a list of warm foods, take a look once again at my last article.

Prepare drinks that heat up your body before going out

There are a number of drinks that heat up your body internally for a prolonged time. This not only keeps you warm but also reduces the thermal shock when you go out.

Here’s a quick recipe for a breakfast tea before going out: mix some turmeric, black pepper, ginger and honey in hot water.

Eat a good breakfast in the morning

I have been a firm advocate for a good breakfast in the mornings for a healthy lifestyle, but now there is another benefit for this: digestion increases the body temperature. As a result, your will feel warmer thanks to this, and added to the heating drink, you will exit your home nice and warm.

Vitamin C & Oméga 3 as prevention, not cure

We have all heard the following saying “eat oranges when you have a cold”, but little do ppl know that it is already too late! Although it does help, vitamin C boosts your immune system as disease prevention (except in the uncommon vitamin C cancer treatment which I cover in a previous article).

Thus, you should make sure that you increase your vitamin C (e.g. camu camu) and omega 3 (e.g. fish oil) intake before and during the cooler seasons to reinforce your immune system.

Final words

Of course, the general idea is that if you are a healthy person or with a naturally strong immune system, simple colds and flus are very rare. If not, the above tips should help you with the transition to reduce the risks of these illnesses… just don’t forget that it’s not only about having a healthy body, but also a healthy mind (to be covered in a future article)!

What about you? What other tips can you share to prevent colds?

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