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As winter settles in, maintaining our well-being becomes even more crucial. The colder temperatures, coupled with the festive season's sugary temptations, can pose challenges to both blood sugar levels and immune function. In this blog post, we'll explore science-backed tips to help you navigate winter while keeping your blood sugar in check and boosting your immunity.
1. Mindful Eating for Blood Sugar Control
Winter often brings an array of indulgent treats, but it's essential to be mindful of your carbohydrate intake. Opt for complex carbohydrates like vegetables (broccoli, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes), legumes (beans, lentils), and whole grains (quinoa and buckwheat). These complex carbs release glucose slowly, promoting stable blood sugar levels. Check out the American Diabetes Association's guide on healthy winter eating.
2. Stay Active Indoors
Cold weather might discourage outdoor exercise, but staying active is crucial for managing blood sugar and supporting immune function. Exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of metabolic disorders. If you’re new to exercise or simply want some ideas to mix up your workout routine then check out our article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Exercise for Metabolic Health.” It contains a sample workout program and a weekly workout schedule. American Heart Association also provides useful insights into indoor exercise ideas.
3. Embrace Immune-Boosting Foods
Incorporate immune-boosting foods into your winter diet. While there are tons of immune-boosting vitamins, minerals, and foods to choose from, vitamin C, zinc, garlic and ginger are great places to start. Both vitamin C and zinc have been shown to be effective at boosting our immune system. It’s important to take vitamin C and zinc throughout the winter months to improve our body’s defense system, as opposed to waiting until we feel ill. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. The recommended daily amount of zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for most adult women. Adding a bit of garlic to your food can also help to keep you healthy. Garlic has also been shown to help aid in the immune system due to its sulfur-containing compounds. Lastly, try incorporating ginger into your tea to help decrease inflammation.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Winter dehydration is a common oversight. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, GOOD IDEA, or herbal teas. Consuming foods with a high water content like watermelon, oranges, cucumbers, and lettuce can also help. When we are properly hydrated, our bodies are better able to regulate blood sugar levels. Water is essential for our body to properly transportation glucose throughout our bloodstream and into our cells, where it can be used for energy. Proper hydration also aids digestion and supports the immune system.
5. Prioritize Sleep
Quality sleep is a cornerstone of overall health. During sleep, our bodies produce and release cytokines, proteins that help regulate the immune response and fight off infections and inflammation. Lack of sleep can be a significant stressor on our body. It can impact blood sugar control, weaken the immune system, and increase markers of inflammation. Ensure you're getting adequate rest by establishing a regular sleep routine.
By incorporating these winter wellness tips into your routine, you can support both your blood sugar management and immune system. Remember, small changes can make a big difference in your overall health. Stay warm and healthy!
Author: Dr. Colleen Gulick