By January 15, 2014 6 Comments Read More →

Top 5 Tips for a Naturally Healthy Winter

Turmeric MilkAlex Redmond, Contributor
Waking Times

It’s that time of year for making snowmen and snug duvet days watching your favourite films. Unfortunately this time of year is not always merry-making and fun, it’s also the season of colds, flu and general ill health. The good news is there are really simple, easy and natural things we can do to maximise our immune system and keep ourselves healthy.

Here are my top 5 tips for staying healthy:

1. Drink a cup of Turmeric Milk each day.

Drink a cup of Turmeric each day to boost your immune system.

Turmeric has been used for centuries to boost immunity and treat coughs and colds. Lots of people are put off by the idea of drinking turmeric, try my favourite recipe below, it’s sweet, warming and will keep those colds at bay, you might be surprised how good it tastes!

I like to make up a paste that I can keep in a jar in the fridge and use whenever I need to instead of making it fresh each time, then just add between half and a whole teaspoon of the paste (to your own taste) for each mug of turmeric milk.

Ingredients for the paste:
1 tbsp ground Turmeric
½ tbsp ground Ginger
½ tbsp ground Cinnamon
1tsp Black Pepper
1tsp Vanilla essence
½tsp Ground Cloves
½tsp Allspice
½tsp Cardamom

To make the paste, add all the spices together and bind with a bit of water until it forms a paste. Then pop the paste in a small jar and conserve in the fridge.

(Feel free to remove any spice, apart from the turmeric, that you don’t like or add in your own favourite sweet spice)

To make a cup of turmeric milk

250ml milk (this can be cow’s milk, goat’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk or soya milk depending on your dietary and taste requirements, but I think it goes particularly well with coconut milk)
½ or 1 tsp mixed paste (recipe above)
1 tsp Honey (or agave nectar or any other natural sweetener of your choice)

Add the milk into a small saucepan, then mix in the paste and bring to boil.  Add in the sweetener to your taste and then remove the saucepan from the heat. Use a tea strainer over your cup and pour the Turmeric milk through the strainer into your cup. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg. Enjoy!

2. Practice some winter breathing exercises.

Breathing techniques (Pranayama) can boost general and lung health and help keep airways, throat and lungs free from infections.

Kapalabhati Pranayama, also known as the cleansing breath, cleanses the body’s internal system, not only the respiratory organs, but it also has a beneficial effect on the digestive system and organs, including the stomach, pancreas and liver. (You can read more about the benefits of Kapalabhati here).

To practice this breathing technique:
Sit comfortably with a straight back to make space for your lungs, and place your hands on your lower belly.

Use your diaphragm to forcefully and fully expel all the air from your lungs (as if you were blowing your nose). If you are new to this practice, use a longer slower exhale to force the air from your lungs, slowly working up to shorter, more forceful exhalations.

Allow the inhalation to come naturally, the lungs filling spontaneously, without effort or forcing anything.

Perform this cycle ten times to start off with, or less if you feel light headed, then allow your breathing return to normal and observe the sensations in your body. Repeat these cycles of ten movements two or three times to start off with and gradually work up to 6 rounds (60 breaths).

Here is a Youtube demonstration of Kapalabhati breathing from Yoga International.

If you are suffering from high blood pressure, any heart disease, hernia, gastric ulcers, vertigo, epilepsy, lung diseases such as asthma or poor lungs capacity or recovering from tuberculosis or if you are pregnant, you should do these exercises only under expert guidance.

3. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables

Make sure your are getting lots of health boosting vitamins and minerals, eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg each day. If you don’t like eating them, try juicing them!

Top fruit & veggies for winter health are Kiwi, Oranges, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Spinach, Broccoli, Kale, Carrots, Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes.

Try adding some raw, organic coconut oil into your smoothie or meal for an extra boost.

Always buy your fruit and vegetables as fresh and local as possible.

4. Reduce your stress levels

Stress hormones lower your body’s ability to fight off infections and viruses, and can even cause illnesses and disease. Take steps to reduce your stress levels this winter; simplify your life as much as possible, be picky about which party invitations you accept and make time to get some physical exercise; take a walk in the countryside or park and get some fresh air out in a natural environment.

You can use a deep breathing practice to calm down your nervous system, check out my free guided breathing practice below.

5. Sleep well

If we’re not sleeping well, we’re more likely to get a cough or cold, studies have shown that a lack of sleep decreases the levels of infection fighting white blood cells in the body. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep and keep your immune system at peak condition!

Make sure you are relaxed before heading off to bed; switch off the TV or computer for at least half an hour before bedtime and go to bed a little bit earlier. Listen to a guided relaxation, take a relaxing bath or do a bit of very gentle yoga or Tai Chi before you head off to bed.

Stay healthy, happy & enjoy 2014!

About the Author

Alex has been practicing yoga for over 15 years and started teaching around 4 years ago. She holds a diploma of Yoga Teacher from the British School of Yoga (BSY). She is a member of the National Association of Yoga Teachers (YANI). Alex also has a diploma of Meditation Teacher accredited by the National UK Therapists Register (SFTR).

Alex is from the Isle of Wight, UK, and moved in 2010 to live in Ogliastra, Sardinia for a simpler and quieter life, enjoying the beauty of the island and the friendly hospitality of the people of the area. She now holds regular yoga and meditation classes for local residents and has recently launched Stress Management for a Modern World, an online mindfulness based stress management course which lasts for 8 weeks.

You can read more from her yoga website or follow her Facebook page. To read more about the Stress Management course, visit the website. She is also on TwitterTumblr and Pinterest.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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  • abinico

    I am really amazed you did not mention sunshine. It is an established fact that winter flus/colds coincide with a decrease in vitamin D levels which results in lower immune activity. And then there’s the selenium factor – research why Mongolia area is the starting point for cold/flu virus. So yeah, turmeric is great but there are other factors as mentioned that keep you healthy. BTW, over 10 years ago I started using tanning lamps during the winter – have not had even minor sniffles since then.

  • Good article and appropriate comment by John Cook. I keep my turmeric mixed with black pepper and have a teaspoon each morning along with gelatine(Joint problems),cumin and ground flax seeds. Do Tai Chi etc daily even in the snow where I live (Eastern Ontario).

    • abinico

      Two years ago – hum.. David will probably not see this but an incredible substance for joint health is pectin. Get some Certo Jel pectin at local supermarket – mix with OJ or grapefruit juice and drink (of course don’t use the entire package – a heapy tablespoon at a time is fine.) Better qualities of pectin are available at health food stores.

  • John Cook

    The one ingredient (besides tumeric of course 🙂 I don’t think should be omitted is the black pepper. Turmeric (Curcumin actually) is poorly absorbed by our bodies and the piperine in black pepper greatly increases the bio-availability. The ginger will also do this to a lesser extent.

  • Well, I cannot argue with good sleep and reducing stress. There are significant side effects to eating too much turmeric and to breathing too deeply as well. Eating too much fruit is not recommended either.
    What will give you energy and keep you warm. Supplement with iodine. Most people have under-performing thyroids due to iodine deficiency, which also opens one up to radiation attack.
    Exercise is good. If you run a lot you may be low in iron, which can make you cold. I supplement with occasional iron supplement.
    To stay healthy, I have not found anything more useful than vitamin D3 with some K2 additive also, 7000iu.
    Ubiquinol is also useful to improve energy and support the heart.

    • stolichnaya

      yeah like a lot of people eat tumeric and fruit in the first place…CLEARLY they should cut back.

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