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Your winter survival guide


HERE is how to grab the cold season by its frosty horns and have the healthiest, happiest winter ever.

1.   Drink up

While the summer heat has you guzzling water by the dam-load, as it cools down it’s easy to forget to keep your liquids up.

However, dry, heated indoor air can be even more dehydrating than sunshine, and dehydration is a major contributor to daytime fatigue, dry and itchy skin, chapped lips, dry coughs and headaches.

Dr Tim Crowe, senior lecturer at the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University, says water has three main roles: “regulating body temperature, carrying nutrients around the body and eliminating waste and toxins”.

He says the best way to make sure you’re hydrated enough is to regularly check your urine. “If your urine comes out clear or a pale yellow colour, then you’re okay,” he says. “But if it’s dark yellow, then it’s a strong indicator you’re dehydrated.”

This advice is particularly pertinent to the elderly, as our sense of thirst diminishes as we age, so it’s possible to be at dangerous levels of dehydration well before you feel thirsty.

But hydrating yourself doesn’t mean just drinking plain water. All liquids count, Dr Crowe says. Although there are some that are more beneficial than others. Instead of warming up on cups of tea and coffee, go herbal. Ginger tea is great first thing in the morning to help wake you up and it also helps to ward off colds and ease sore throats due to its anti-viral properties.

 2.   Boost your immune system

Prevention is better than cure, so the saying goes, so the answer to beating many winter ills may be boosting your immunity.

Naturopath Elizabeth D’Avigdor says a healthy immune system is the body’s natural defence mechanism against bacteria, viruses and parasites.

“Having a healthy immune system means you’ll be marshalling your defences for a pre-emptive strike when a virus hits,” she says.

She recommends a new product, Blackmores Immunodefence, $39.95, which supports the immune system by boosting the activity of immune cells. It contains lactoferrin, a derivative of the first fluid that flows from a mother’s breast after childbirth.

D’Avigdor also recommends taking echinacea to keep your defences up. It strengthens the immune system, making it difficult for colds and flu to take hold.
If you do keep getting slugged by colds and flus, then visit your doctor or a natural health practitioner. “It’s a clear sign that something isn’t right in your system,” says D’Avigdor. To find a natural health professional, visit www.atms.com.au


3.   Don’t hibernate


With the dull grey skies can come dull grey moods, but don’t make like an echidna and hibernate.

Dr Sarah Edelman, author of Change Your Thinking (ABC Books), says it’s easy to put psychological restrictions on ourselves in winter. “Motivation levels go down and you feel flatter and less positive,” she says. “However, if you don’t keep a check on the way you’re thinking, it can be a self-perpetuating cycle.”

To keep mentally cheery, Dr Edelman recommends making a conscious effort to maintain a healthy mood.

“While it’s easier to go into hibernation mode and become lethargic, it’s important to make decisions, set goals and be proactive,” she says.

“Don’t let the climate dictate what you do with your life. Keep your physical activity levels up, especially in periods of sunshine – go for a walk, do some gardening or undertake an exercise regime you love. Keep up mental activity such as going to the movies, reading or taking a course. Keeping the spirit active will keep your endorphins up and you happy.”

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Warming and heart-healthy!





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