Winter is not the wellness season, and this one is shaping up to be particularly challenging. Having started early, the rates of all viral illnesses are increasing across North America and are already the highest for many years.
These viral illnesses are not only early and numerous – but seem to be more severe than usual. While there are vaccines for some of them, there aren’t for all, and infants are most at risk. It all sounds a bit scary, but fear won't help!
Being prepared and proactive is the way to go, with scrupulous personal hygiene and occasional mask wearing worth continuing as part of our lockdown legacy. Beyond these protective measures there are many useful practices for overall winter wellness and care of the skin:
1. Immune Support
This is probably winter’s number one health issue due to the high rate of infectious illnesses in the community, hence the ‘cold and ‘flu season’. Interestingly the new virus in our lives seems to be less seasonal but it certainly increases vulnerability to winter ills and chills.
How can we defend ourselves and the family? The usual things are very important: healthy food, good sleep, regular exercise and happiness! Apart from these essentials, extra care is required to fight off nasty bugs. Keeping the nose moist, keeping your distance from sick people, keeping fit, and keeping your immunity in working order. That means plenty of natural vitamins, bioflavonoids, anthocyanins, phytoactives, medicinal herbs and honeys... everything that's in Bio-First Manuka Immunity Syrup and Oral Spray.
Team this up with a bit of sunshine when possible and plenty of fresh air for the family’s winter wellness.
2. Under the Weather
Sometimes despite our best efforts and precautions we, or the children, get sick. Nearly 3 years of lockdowns and restrictions on society has made this much worse with high rates of illness in the community and having a bout doesn’t necessarily protect you from another. Winter is also the season for cold sores – if you are susceptible to them, try our pure natural Lip Sore Cream at the first sign of a breakout.
Once sick with a cough or cold the focus is on relieving symptoms and getting well asap. Extra fluids are vital, helping to reduce fever, hydrate the cells and thin the mucous. Warm drinks are especially useful and also soothing. Bio-First Manuka Cough Syrups offer great support for the whole family.
Above all, lots of rest is highly recommended!
Any case that get worse not better, involves persistent fever or painful cough, must be treated by your doctor – although most winter ills are viral in origin there can be bacterial complications or consequences that need medication, especially in infants, the elderly, and those of any age with underlying conditions.
3. Moisture is Magic
Winter can often bring not only cold temperatures but lower humidity. While dry air is great for doing the laundry, it’s not so great for the body. Parts most affected are eyes, nostrils, airways and skin. We need to keep them moist to keep them working well.
One approach is to slightly humidify the home (unless it's actually damp in which case dehumidifying is the answer), but that doesn't solve the whole problem. Extra care must be taken, especially if spending a lot of time in centrally heated premises. A dry nose is more susceptible to contracting infections, dry airways aggravate asthma, coughs and sore throats, dry eyes feel awful. Keep them moist with non-medicated witch hazel-based eye drops when needed – use a simple saline spray in the nose, and inhale steam any chance you get, like in the shower. Same applies to the kids. And keep the body hydrated with lots of fluids.
What about your skin? Hydration is the key here too, plus avoidance of any skincare with synthetics, harsh chemicals and preservatives, benzyl alcohols or petroleum. Stick to nice and natural -clean and non-toxic. Unsure what to choose? Look for Think Dirty verified or Australian Certified Toxic Free products.
4. Protect and Restore
Just as we protect from the cold with warm clothes and heating, our skin needs protection from winter conditions and remember the sun still has UV rays! Skin products that are easily absorbed and leave a surface film are the best for you and family. ‘Winter skin’ will soak them up and ask for more. You can give that bit extra after a bath or shower by applying a suitable lotion such as Bio-First's Skin Rescue Lotion while still warm and damp.
If the skin has become super dry you should follow this up by re-applying regularly throughout the day. Cases of badly cracked and chapped skin can be relieved with pure anhydrous lanolin from your local Chemist. Skin distressed by conditions or treatments may be improved with Bio-First Manuka Skin Saver gel (full of medical-grade Manuka honey, so not for those sensitive to bee products!).
To complete the protection, watch what you eat and drink: alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating; water is great; protein and pure oils are a big help.
5. Warm is Well
Amazingly we keep our bodies at about 98F (37C) all year round, though of course some parts are a bit warmer or cooler than others. In summer perspiring helps regulate our temperature while in winter the blood vessels act to reduce heat loss. This brilliant self-regulating system can be helped or hindered: what we wear, eat, drink and do makes a big difference to how hard our bodies have to work in maintaining body temperature within its narrow healthy range.
So in winter we avoid big variations by dressing warmly, removing outerwear once inside, keeping our homes comfortably heated, and warming ourselves on the inside with hot drinks, soups, and foods providing nutritious calories to fuel our system. Alcohol is not helpful – that warm flush is followed up by dilating blood vessels lowering the body temperature, so be restrained and choose nice warming teas for bedtime,then start the next day with some exercise you enjoy to get the circulation going.