Over the last three posts we have been on a journey from the cave and the struggles of ancient man to survive the harsh winter cold with minimum access to light, food, heat and stimulation. On that journey we have explored the causes of modern man’s struggle to adapt to the modern world of technology and 24/7 light, noise and stimulation of all the senses. The solutions are not perfect but the areas that we have covered are the starting point to changing the way we look at both our bodies and how we manage the seasonal changes most of us face.
A quick recap – we need healthy amounts of Vitamin D from sunshine and some foods and healthy cholesterol to produce all hormones in our body. Tryptophan and B-vitamin rich foods to produce essential hormones in the brain – melatonin and serotonin. We have to eat these foods regularly throughout the day.
Better to have 6 smaller meals of the right foods than starve all day and then have a big meal at night that cannot be digested and processed by the body. This regularity will also drip feed the essential nutrients into your body, keeping energy levels higher and the neurotransmitters in your brain firing on all cylinders. Avoid taking in high carbohydrate and sweet foods later at night. A cup of warm milk with a small teaspoon of honey before bed will help activate the melatonin to send you to sleep.
Sleep is essential and we all need around 8 hours per night to allow the body to recover and repair… and relax.
We need to exercise, with music to stimulate the production of dopamine and activate our reward centres in the brain and we need the support, companionship and warmth of our clan – that is to say our family and close friends.
I appreciate that for those working full-time it is difficult to establish a regular exercise pattern but if you really want to feel alive and vital through these next few months (Australians and South Africans are of course are exempt as they move into summer) then you are going to have to find ways to get outside during the daylight hours and get some exercise. So lunchtimes will have to be – 30 minutes brisk walk and then back for a protein, vegetable or salad, moderate carbohydrate lunch.
We need to avoid the colds and flu that are rift in the winter months, usually because everyone’s immune systems are suppressed because of the lack of Vitamin D from sunshine. I mentioned in an earlier post that I in fact do take a supplement of Vit D and Cod Liver Oil in the winter months and touch wood I have not had a cold for the last ten years. Buy high quality vitamins and I take 1000 iu per day and you can check in your health food shop or pharmacy for their recommended brand to provide you with a healthy balance.
We also need plenty of vegetables and fruits containing Vitamin C to help maintain a healthy immune system and it goes without saying that all of these should be fresh or at least fresh picked and frozen.. In the winter months it can be more practical to buy frozen as they will be seasonal in other parts of the world and brought to you locally.
Here is a shopping list that contains all the nutrients and the foods that eaten regularly can help you maintain a healthy immune system.
Other Immune boosting activities
You can go to the gym, a swimming pool and if you do not have access to that sort of facility then buy a treadmill, second hand ones are quite reasonable, or simply put your favourite music on and dance like no-one is watching!!
Recently I looked at the dynamics of change physically, mentally and emotionally and included some strategies to maintain a healthy balance. You might find the three posts useful.
It is up to you to find the activities that make you feel good as an individual. For some it might be an energetic game of squash or running a marathon. For others it could be Yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates. All of them if enjoyed will boost the immune system and release feel good endorphins that will help see you through the rest of the winter.
Tell me this does not boost your immune system
A key strategy for overcoming the winter blues is interaction with others.
I believe that the clan would have worked together, sitting by the fires which produced the only light, telling stories, educating the young, working on the first tools and utensils such as the autumn gourds. Even perhaps, making drums from those gourds and producing the first beats of music. I am sure that laughter was part of those dark days and nights as humour cannot just have developed in our modern world. The dynamics of the relationships within the clan can only be imagined because despite all the evidence found, we simply were not there!
The good news is that even if you are separated by thousands of miles or even a few hundred you can still keep in touch with your clan members and friends. The virtual cave we all live in now offers a wonderful opportunity to stay engaged with the world, learn new skills online, have conference calls via Skype, catch up with gossip on Twitter or Facebook and communicate. Keeping our brain exercised, eating a nutrient rich diet and taking a 30 minute brisk walk daily may keep us whole in body, mind and soul our entire lives.
I firmly believe that our bodies contain ancestral memory. And, because our DNA mutates so infrequently every 10,000 years or so, like instinctive behaviour in all animals, we do have deep seated and essential needs for certain foods, nutrients, activities, emotional connections and mental stimulation that we still must provide to be healthy physically and mentally and to be simply happy.
However, you cannot just sit passively and wait for all these elements to come together magically. You have to grab with both hands and participate.
So you now have the components for the plan to make this winter healthier and mentally manageable.
I have given you the elements for the project – but you are the one who needs to put it into practice. It will not be easy to change habits of a lifetime, or get into a new routine with new foods having given up those you feel you get comfort from.
©sally cronin Just food for Health 2004 – 2017
As always if you would like to ask any questions you can do so in the comments or you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for dropping by. Sally