2019-01-10 / Front Page

Daniel offers residents suggestions on staying healthy in winter months

The winter season means more time spent indoors for everyone, which equals a breeding ground for viruses. The Lincoln County Health Department has asserted that staying healthy is especially important throughout the winter months not only for individuals, but for everyone around.

“Making sure your family is up- to-date on their annual flu vaccines is one of the single most important things to do in order to stay healthy and the health department still has the high dose and regular vaccines available,” Nurse Manager Hilary Daniel said.

Aside from this, Daniel outlined several basics of health not only for the winter season, but for all seasons. However, these practi­cal tidbits should also help defray the effects of laziness due to time cooped-up indoors while it’s cold out.

Be sure to focus on healthy eat­ing, Daniel said, while incorporat­ing things “in moderation,” such as adequate exercise, plenty of rest, lots of water, and taking steps to decrease stress.

“Get outside. We’re lucky to live among mild temperatures, so it’s important to take advantage of it and get outdoors,” Daniel ex­pressed. “Getting just 30 minutes of sunshine per day can boost a person’s mental health and help to combat those ‘winter blues’ that are present this time of year. Getting outside can reduce stress, improve a person’s mood and self- esteem, and boost focus.”

“With all the recent rain and colder temperatures many people are prone to the blues. One sug­gestion which may work is a light box. It is proven to increase vita­min D and decrease symptoms of depression,” she said

Regular physical exercise can also aid in maintaining a healthy body throughout the winter. It’s been reported that adults need two- and-a- half hours a week of regular physical exercise to maintain over­all health. This includes anything from strength training to walking in the neighbor-hood.

Don’t feel like going outdoors? Daniel suggested joining a gym, because more often than not it’s a small price to pay for the safety, convenience, and variety of work­outs that can be done.

Daniel also noted that it’s im­portant to dress appropriately for this time of year. For extreme cold she suggested dressing in layers by beginning with a tight, thermal layer closest to the skin. “Wear a coat that can be easily removed and don’t forget to cover extremi­ties against harsh weather,” the she said. “Tight clothing is best this time of year, as it seals in body heat.

“It’s also important to dress dry, as well as warm,” Daniel contin­ued, “body heat is lost the quickest when skin becomes wet with wa­ter or sweat, so choose fabrics that wick away moisture as opposed to sealing it in. This is especially important for hunters or those that work outside.”

The number one culprit is cot­ton, because it soaks up water and sweat and doesn’t dry well. “It’s also worth noting here that skin protection is especially important during winter months,” Daniel said, including that moisturizer and Chapstick will keep skin from drying out and daily application of sunscreen will prevent unwanted burn and the likelihood of cancer.

“Now that the holidays are over, we can focus our minds on healthy eating,” Daniel segued. “Rather than relying on a fad diet or worse, diet pills, focus on a health change toward better eating.”

Healthy eating is important dur­ing cold-weather months, because what fuels the human body is ulti­mately what keeps people healthy. With the start of a new year, take some time to purge the pantry of junk foods, highly processed items, and foods with no nutrition­al value.

“Take an hour to plan a weekly menu for your family that includes three healthy meals and some healthy snack options,” Daniel said. “Using your menu, buy only items from a grocery list and re­sist the urge to buy cookies or ice cream – they weren’t on the list, were they? – this will also save you some money, too.”

Daniel further suggested that during winter months, make sure to incorporate plenty of the follow­ing foods in your diet: l Foods packed full of vitamin C – citrus fruits are at their high­est nutritional value during winter months. Vitamin C can aid achy joints but is also a key component in overall bone health. l Dark, leafy greens are in peak season this time of year too. They are packed full of folate and vita­min A, K, and C. For those who take a blood thinner, be careful not to overdo the greens because they can interfere with the medication’s mechanism of action. l Oatmeal is a perfect on-the- go, hot breakfast for cold, dreary mornings. Most oatmeals on the shelf contain an adequate supply of zinc – needed for immune func­tion – and soluble fiber, which is the “stick to your ribs” component of oatmeal. l Chili is the perfect winter food. Generally speaking, chili contains a generous supply of veg­etables and can be seen as a lower- fat meal. Tomato juice, paste, and sauce contains lycopene, which boosts brain function and can help lift the “fog” in our minds that win­ter weather can bring. Try packing your chili with vegetables like onions and peppers for an added health benefit. Beans, of any va­riety, will aid in muscle building. But cut back on the amount of beef used in your recipe in favor of tur­key or venison.

“If you find yourself sick this winter, don’t think you can ‘ride it out’ or overlook your illness,” Daniel cautioned.

“Most wintertime illnesses need a doctor’s attention. Many times, if left untreated, minor colds and coughs can become major and may even lead to a hospital visit.”

“And, while you’ll be in the best hands in a hospital, it’s difficult to overcome major illnesses lying in a hospital bed,” Daniel said. Cases of the flu have been reported lo­cally already, so if you feel bad, seek medical attention before it’s too late.”

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