Surprising Strategies for Winter Wellness
Winter is the natural season for rest and to replenish and recharge. The cold weather urges us to hunker down. Many of us who stay highly active in the warmer months find that during the stillness of winter, our energy bank is in dire need of a “deposit.” Needing special TLC in the winter are both the kidneys and adrenal glands. These two organs are critical for optimum energy and stamina.
Care for Your Kidneys
Each day, the kidneys process several thousand quarts of blood, extract approximately 160 quarts of fluids for another filtering process, and isolate quarts of fluid waste for elimination. Overworked, under-functioning kidneys can unleash a cascade of symptoms including:
- sleep problems
- joint pain
- weight gain
- tender breasts
Problems with the skin or hair may provide evidence of kidney problems. Keeping the kidneys well-hydrated with pure water and wholesome juices, while avoiding sugary colas and over-stimulating energy drinks, promotes kidney health and regeneration. Healing foods for the kidneys include: cranberries, blueberries, fennel, onions, celery, beets, spinach, string beans and asparagus. Sipping a cocktail of unsweetened cranberry juice mixed with pure water cleanses and revitalizes the entire urinary system while discouraging yeast and bacterial infections. Nettle tea is also a first-class herb for cleansing the kidneys.
Address Your Adrenals
The tiny adrenal glands, sitting atop the kidneys, are on alert every second of the day, responding to all physical, emotional and psychological stresses affecting us. Most important is the adrenal hormone cortisol, which keeps our blood sugar levels in balance and provides extra energy in times of stress.
In our hyper-driven world, adrenal exhaustion is common. This malady often manifests with the following symptoms:
- inability to cope
- severe fatigue, especially around 7 am, 11 am and 3 pm
- trouble sleeping through the night
- stubborn belly fat
- bags or circles under the eyes
- cravings for salt, sugar or caffeine
- getting a second wind late in the evening
The adrenals become stressed when blood sugar surges. The average diet rich in sweets and other high glycemic carbohydrates causes the pancreas to over-secrete insulin, which drops blood sugar too low. Low blood sugars force the adrenals to respond with a flood of stress hormones. A healing diet for overworked adrenals includes: raw vegetables, fruits, high quality proteins found in hormone-free, pastured-raised eggs, beef, lamb, poultry, tofu and tempeh. Also important are the beneficial fats: flaxseed oil, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil and hemp seeds.
UNI KEY’s Adrenal Formula assists in the healing and repair of the adrenal glands by providing tissue-building elements found in ultra-clean bovine adrenal, spleen and liver glandulars, along with important revitalizing nutrients vitamin C, pantothenic acid, zinc, vitamin B6 and Vitamin A. Ultra H-3, with procaine HCl, also helps repair damaged adrenal cells so that they can absorb nutrients efficiently.
Recharge Your Immunity
Among the challenges of winter is keeping the immune system in good repair. The most potent of immune builders are the EPA and DHA oils, along with other omega-3 fatty acids. These agents are vital for brain and nerve function, healthy vision and flexible joints.
Scientists have long known that the omega-3 fatty acids reduce human inflammation. But only recently did scientists at the University of Michigan discover that DHA enhances the immune activities of white blood cells, called B cells, which are so vital for immune response and pathogen clearance. Super-EPA contains fish oil, including krill, from the North Atlantic. Certified free of PCBs and heavy metals, this superior supplement contains 360 mg of EPA, 240 mg of DHA and 600 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per softgel.
An international team of genetic researchers reports that seasonal transitions greatly affect how our immune system works. Of the approximately 22,000 human genes known, about a quarter of them show signs of seasonal variation. Some of these genes become more highly expressed (upregulated) in cold or rainy weather, specifically to help us ward off infectious bacteria and viruses, which are more prevalent in winter. The problem is, when these genes “macho up” to become defensive, they can also stimulate inflammation and worsen arthritis, heart disease and type-1 diabetes, conditions which often peak in winter months. 
To help offset our natural wintertime tendency towards inflammation, a daily smoothie with a scoop of Daily Greens Formula is a must. This unique blend of non-GMO grasses and green vegetables, plus broken cell chlorella, provides sun energy, anti-inflammatory properties, blood sugar balance and DNA repair.
Along with ample rest, three important keys for avoiding winter infections are: good sanitation, consistent body warmth and avoiding stress that can lower immunity. Washing hands regularly, especially before eating, is vital. Cleaning one’s surroundings is also important, since bacteria and viruses can cling to surfaces where they can remain viable for up to 8 hours. Frequently sanitizing phones, keyboards, counters, children’s toys, bathroom surfaces and commonly-touched items is a great idea. Doctors recommend keeping unsanitized hands away from the face, as cold germs usually enter the body through the nasal passages and tear ducts.
It is not an old wives’ tale that illness can be precipitated by a cold shock to the body. Consistent body warmth can be attained by layering our winter clothing (natural fabrics only), and by keeping what touches our skin dry, since cold water removes body heat twenty times faster than cold air. Covering the head when it’s frigid outside, or drafty inside, conserves the important heat that so quickly escapes from the top of the body.
Emotional upsets can quickly lower the body’s general vitality and disarm our immune factors. It is wise to simplify our lives, reduce avoidable obligations and commitments that rob us of energy. It is wise to effectively communicate in ways that avoid contention and unhappiness. Frequent breaks from stress and worry are invaluable. Finding time each day for peaceful reflection and enjoyable pastimes also pays big dividends. Moderate daily exercise like walking indoors or rebounding on a mini trampoline is highly advisable.
D-fend Your System
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS reminds us: “You can’t underestimate the importance of sunlight which is a nutrient having a catalytic effect on your body’s glands.” She recommends concentrated doses of bright light each morning to activate our immune defenses. On drab, sunless days, using full spectrum light bulbs can make a big difference in mood and energy levels.
It is also essential to maintain healthy vitamin D levels throughout the winter months. Vitamin D facilitates a number of important functions in the body. Although direct sunlight exposure is a good source of vitamin D, a large percentage of people do not get enough sun due to season change, latitude, or lifestyle. Individuals deficient in vitamin D may need 2,000-5,000 IU daily to replenish tissue stores. Thorne’s D-1000 supplies 1,000 IU of pure vitamin D3 in each vegetarian capsule.
Regular, healthy meals are vital for keeping our winter time energy account adequate to cover our energy withdrawals. Many people report the beginnings of a winter illness after a spate of extreme hunger or improper nutrition. It’s also good insurance to keep healthy snacks high in smart fats and protein ready to keep blood sugar on an even keel.
Winter wellness is attainable if each of us confront the need to reform bad habits and redirected priorities. But in the striving, it is important to be patient with ourselves, because success in maintaining good health is a process, not an event. By never giving up, and by faithfully tending to our winter “tune-up,” we can stay active and feel vibrant. Common sense and consistent, healthy habits will grandly reward us with renewed sustenance and ensure a vital store of energy and stamina for the more active seasons ahead.
- “DHA-enriched Fish Oil Targets B Cell Lipid Microdomains and Enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell Function,” Journal of Leukocyte Biology, April 2103.
- “Seasons Affect How Genes and Immune System Work,” BBC News online, May 12, 2015
- The Living Beauty Detox Program, Ann Louse Gittleman, Ph.D., Harper One, 2000.