A reduction in temperature can result in a number of changes to the body.
Colds are much more frequent in the winter months. This could be linked to an increase in transmission of viruses, a reduction in our ability to protect ourselves (due to changes in mucus membranes) or an increased ability of viruses to survive in lower temperatures etc. Therefore, a healthy diet, which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, is essential to help support the body’s own defences. However, changes in the diet can often see people shift towards a more starch based diet. Along with fruit and vegetables, protein is essential for helping to maintain the immune system. Such dietary changes can often result in weight gains too! Achieving a sufficient amount of vitamin D through the diet is vital also, as there is a reduction in daylight hours and exposure to the sun. Therefore, foods high in vitamin D should be consumed; including fish, eggs and fortified spreads and cereals.
The colder months see a change in the levels of certain hormones produced. Melatonin levels tend to increase, while serotonin levels decline. These hormones play a vital role in our energy levels, mood and our sleep. They are linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is more common in the winter months. This form of depression is more frequently observed in women.
There are associations with a drop in temperature and arthritic conditions, with changes in joint fluid thickness and reduced ability to stretch. We often become less mobile in the winter, which can impact on our guts, with reduced peristalsis. Changes in blood circulation with the cold can also result in reduced nail growth.
Getting adequate exercise and eating a sensible diet during the winter months will hopefully help to ease the burden these cold temperatures can exert on our bodies!