How to stay healthy in winter

Some secret weapons will help you and your family stay well during the cold, dark months of winter.

Wash up

Eliminate viruses and bacteria by frequently washing your hands—and teach your kids to do the same. Simply do this: "Work up a lather and wash for at least 30 seconds before eating and after you go to the bathroom." Wash under your fingernails too. That’s where germs lurk.

Change your toothbrush

"Use a new toothbrush after you’ve had a cold, the flu, a mouth infection or sore throat," says the dentist. "Germs can hide in the toothbrush and lead to reinfection."

Don’t forget your feet

Winter’s heavy shoes, boots and socks can take their toll on tootsies, large and small. The best defense: Moisturize your feet daily to keep fungi from entering cracked winter skin. And wear socks with synthetic fibers to dispel moisture faster.

Go toward the light

Six out of every 100 people may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a malady of mood swings that occurs when light diminishes in winter.

To counter SAD, psychotherapists recommend vitamin D, exercise and light therapy. Some lamps and box lights are designed to treat the disorder.

To keep your kids upbeat, help them get off the couch and outside whenever there is a sunny day. About 10 to 15 minutes of play in the sun is a good mood-lifter (and source of vitamin D).

Keep your body well hydrated

You may not feel as thirsty in the cold weather, but that can up your risk of dehydration. Allowing your body to become dehydrated can leave you more vulnerable to getting sick. Water helps the body carry nutrients to cells and get rid of toxins. Without enough water, you start dragging.

Get your flu jabs

It’s smart for families to get annual flu jabs, but they are especially important for expectant and new mothers. They protect mothers from getting the flu, and they pass protective antibodies to the baby. Antibodies are also passed through breast milk. Doctors also recommend that mothers and families get vaccinated for whooping cough.

The 2018-2019 flu vaccine contains:

  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus,
  • an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus,
  • a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (B/Victoria/2/87 lineage).

Fill up on fibre

A 2010 study at the University of Illinois found that the fibre in foods like oats, apples and nuts helps reduce inflammation and strengthens the immune system by increasing anti-inflammatory proteins.

The suggested daily fibre intake for an adult woman and children aged 4 to 8 is 25 grams a day. An apple has 3.5 grams of fibre.

Rinse your nose

Studies have shown that those who rinse their nasal passages every day for six months have fewer symptoms from allergies and sinus infections—and cut back on antibiotics and nasal sprays.

by Dr. Philippe Jean Collin - Family Medical Practice Hanoi