I don’t know about you, but I hate that the winter seems to come with illness.
Even the years we don’t really get sick, I’m on the edge of my figurative seat, waiting and wondering. I hate hearing about all the families who are sick on social media, because I immediately wonder how long it’s been since we’ve seen them — were we exposed? And even if it’s someone we haven’t seen lately (or at all), I sort of feel like it’s going to reach through the computer and get us anyway. I know that’s ridiculous, but my anxiety trigger is illness.
Anyway, rather than sitting around and feeling like I have no control, and that we’re going to be exposed to who-knows-what every time we leave the house, I’m going to be proactive this year. Being proactive means understanding what makes it more likely for us to get sick, so we can avoid that!
Why is Winter “Flu Season?”
The biggest reason that winter is considered flu season is because people tend to get the flu more from November through March. Researchers don’t know exactly why, and several theories have been offered.
One theory, which now has some evidence to back it up, is that the flu virus replicates and circulates more easily in cold, dry air. In fact, that study showed that it circulated better at 5 C (about 41 degrees F) than 20 C (about 68 degrees F), and that it circulated best in humidity levels between 20 and 35%, and not at all in humidity levels over 80%! That’s why there’s hardly ever flu in hot, humid summer months.
However. Transmission rates went from the mid-30s to the upper-50s, percentage-wise, so although you’re almost twice as likely to get sick in the winter, you’re still not guaranteed. It’s all about personal susceptibility.
The big question is: what makes you personally susceptible?
The Top 3 Reasons We Get Sick More in the Winter
You may have heard some of these…but probably not all. And they are all important!
1. Vitamin D deficiency
This is one major theory that has circulated for awhile, and it’s important. Many people are deficient in vitamin D, and being deficient decreases your resistance to infection. Some supplement directly, but high doses of vitamin D without Vitamin A and magnesium can be more harmful than helpful.
The best way to supplement with vitamin D, in my opinion, is a natural cod liver oil (which also contains natural vitamin A). I’m testing out a brand right now and hope to share that information soon. I also use this magnesium lotion every night.
It’s a good idea to have your vitamin D level tested, because there can be too much of a good thing, too.
2. Low-Quality Indoor Air
Indoor air quality is really so important. And yet, we don’t really pay any attention to it!
Our homes are filled with pollution. Regular laundry detergent contains serious chemicals to scent it, that are bad for our health. Cooking can be pollution, in a sense. Cleaning products are as well. During the winter months, we do all these things, and because of cooler temperatures, we don’t open the windows at all.
When air stays inside, it gets stale. “Junk” circulates more easily. And, that junk can make us sick — whether it’s an actual virus, or it’s pollution that’s running down our immune system (or both).
We can combat this by opening the windows every now and then, even if it’s for a short period of time, just to air things out. An air purifier helps (I have this one). And, an essential oil blend for killing germs is good (I have this one and this one).
3. Too Much Sugar
The holidays are nearly upon us….and that means a pretty stream of sugar for months to come. There’s Halloween (candy), Thanksgiving (pie), and Christmas (every kind of sugar possible). Sugar, especially the refined stuff, seriously wreaks havoc on your body. It contains no nutrients, and yet it requires nutrients to digest and eliminate, so it leaves your body worse than before you ate it. And, it spikes your blood sugar and causes imbalances, making it likelier to have hormone imbalances and gain weight. Long-term high sugar consumption can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and all kinds of other issues.
Short-term sugar consumption means your resistance to illness is lowered and you’re more likely to get sick.
When you combine too much sugar, unhealthy air, and vitamin deficiencies — you get a person who’s being heavily exposed to germs and junk and who has little resistance to illness!
How to Combat This
So, how do you fix this, and make your family more resistant to winter illness?
1. Take High Quality Supplements
I’m still exploring the *best* supplements (and I’ll be sharing more of my research into that in a week or so). A quality multivitamin or an herbal multivitamin tincture, cod liver oil, dessicated liver pills, and magnesium lotion are my go-to supplements, along with probiotics. (Probiotics my kids take, and the one the baby takes.)
2. Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are delicious, and they’re filled with vitamins and minerals. Plus, they have a lot of enzymes that can boost your immunity. Eating more of them is always a good idea! We like to do salads, smoothies, soups, juices (fresh), and more. A little fat helps the absorption of many of the nutrients, so add a little cream or yogurt to your smoothie , olive oil to your salad, or butter to cooked veggies.
3. Air Out the House
It’s not easy in the winter, but do it — open the window for a few minutes and put a fan in it, facing out. It’ll suck the still air out and bring fresh air in. (It really doesn’t take long.) Diffuse some essential oils, too, like lemon or tea tree, to help kill any germs in the air.
4. Get Some Exercise
Exercise improves health in so many ways. It helps your body to move waste through your body systems so junk isn’t stuck (which could make you sick). It boosts your immune system, fitness levels, helps balance hormones and raise energy. Make time for a walk often!
5. Limit the Sugar
It is the holidays…so a little indulgence is called for. But only a little. Enjoy a small amount of sweets here and there, but skip it except on special occasions. For me, I prefer to “indulge” in the delicious, non-sugary holiday favorites! Eat extra turkey with tons of creamy gravy, green beans seared with bacon and garlic, whole wheat dinner rolls with whipped honey butter… Promise all of that is better for you than the candy!