Health & Nature

Healthy Choices as the Seasons Change

The days are shorter and you may sometimes feel as though you’re not getting enough rest. The weather shift that we experience tends to invite wildly runny noses and sore throats that seem to last forever.

October has arrived! The color of the leaves are transforming before our eyes and you may be debating about what could be your best Halloween costume yet. The chilly, Fall weather is knocking on our doors and though you may not need your mid-winter pea coat, the task of unpacking your favorite sweaters has made its way to your to-do list. The foods, those delicious pies, hearty casseroles and and holiday dinners, are soon to make their way to our plates. There is so much to love about Fall and the pleasures it can bring into our lives. Nonetheless, there are probably a few things about this season that you aren’t very excited about.

The days are shorter and you may sometimes feel as though you’re not getting enough rest. The weather shift that we experience tends to invite wildly runny noses and sore throats that seem to last forever. I’m currently getting over an early autumn cold myself. But why do we routinely experience such symptoms during the Fall? Have you ever wondered what causes runny noses?* (*Fast Fact: One of our nose’s primary functions is to moisturize the air we inhale into our lungs. Therefore, when we inhale cold, dry air, it’s the immediate response of our nose’s moist tissue to escalate its production of fluids. A runny nose is caused when too much fluid is developed.)

Sore throats, however, are not necessarily caused by cold air itself. When it gets cooler outside we begin to turn on the heat in our homes. When we do this and leave it running while we sleep, the warm, dry air causes our throats to become itchy and uncomfortable. On other occasions, sore throats derive from viruses such as coronaviruses and rhinoviruses which typically cause the common cold. A sore throat may also be an early indicator of the influenza virus or streptococcal, two viruses that require antibiotics or professional treatment – unlike common colds, which typically resolve themselves after a few days of rest and proper body nourishment. As a matter of fact, studies have discovered that the influenza virus is significantly more durable in colder weather; it contains a rubber coating that melts in warmer temperatures and toughens when the air is cooler. This allows the virus to travel from one person to another rather fluidly.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Since the cool weather, warm and dry indoor air, and sneaky viruses have such profound effects on our health, it’s important that you protect yourself by boosting your immune system, layering up when you’re outdoors, eating healthy and getting adequate rest.

Taking supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin E will help protect your immune system. Vitamin C is mostly found in citrus fruits, strawberries, and greens like kale and spinach. Vitamin B6 supports how the immune system reacts biochemically and is found in protein-rich foods like chicken, salmon, and green veggies. For pita and hummus lovers, vitamin B6 is also present in chick peas, the prominent ingredient in hummus. Vitamin E works as an infection fighting antioxidant and is prevalent in nuts and seeds. Eating the right foods (those that contain supplemental vitamins, fight viruses and stimulate great health) is a great preventative measure to take against the common cold and flu.

When it comes to dressing for the weather, “layering up” is a very good way to protect yourself. Doing so allows you to be warm and comfortable outdoors. Plus, since you can easily pull off the layers once you return indoors, you can prevent the extreme temperature differences from causing you to get sick.

Something that bothers me personally about the autumn weather is the dry and itchy skin that occasionally plagues me as a result. During this time of year and into the winter, I feel the need to keep a small container of shea butter with me throughout the day. I do so in order to make sure that I’m showing adequate love to my skin, not allowing it to get rough or dry. Just as we protect our skin in the summer time with sunscreen and large umbrellas at the beach, it is necessary that we maintain a healthy skin routine in the Fall as well.

Our skin becomes dry and irritated due to a number of reasons during this time of year. Without enough moisture in our skin, it becomes more difficult to endure the harsh winds, crisp outdoors air, and dry indoors air of our homes. When we take long showers and don’t moisturize immediately afterward, or not at all, we are more at risk of drying out our skin. Moisturizing within 10 minutes after you shower while your skin is still somewhat damp will help your skin absorb the moisture from the product that you use. When shopping for moisturizers, consider brands that are rich in ingredients like petrolatum acid, glycerin, shea butter, and urea. These assist your skin with absorbing moisture and water, preventing dryness. Keeping these tips in mind can keep your skin looking and feeling vibrant and healthy while the leaves dry and fall.

This is a fun time of the year. The Holiday season is right around the corner and it’s a great time to enjoy family, friends and time alone to reflect on life. Take the time to make space for health routines that will protect your skin and immune system. A few smart choices when it comes to what we eat, wear, and how we manage our homes will lead to positive incentives in our lives.

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GreenChoiceNow™ Writer: Makalani Mack