I am not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV. In this post I offer my own opinions and suggestions regarding health in your midlife years. Please see your doctor to begin any regimen.
I woke this morning to news about the emerging coronavirus epidemic coming out of China. Ugh. And, I thought to myself, “Hooray for flu season!” Not!
It’s winter, my lovelies, and we MUST be proactive during this cold and flu season. Today I’m sharing five often overlooked habits for midlife health during these dreary winter days.
Let me be begin with the obvious. Now is the time to wash your hands thoroughly more often than you might during other seasons. If you’re traveling, wash those hands. The bathroom should be your first stop when you walk off a plane. Planes and airports are petri dishes for all kinds of germs. Yuck.
Likewise, if your parents are aging and perhaps living in a nursing facility, washing your hands is a critical part of your visit with them. Take care to wash before you visit and then when you leave. Our elderly loved ones are more vulnerable to germs and they don’t need us leaving behind extra germs from the outside when our intention is simply to love them.
Wash those hands!
While washing germs from our outsides is always the first step, the BEST way to fight would-be flu or cold ‘bugs’ is from the inside out.
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Your gut is your best defense in fighting disease. The digestive system is your moat to the castle of your body. Fighting off those disease causing germs, the immune system protects your body.
So how do you strengthen your digestive system and and boost the immune defenses?
Your diet is the first step in attaining and keeping midlife health. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables (fiber) will keep things moving down there. Staying regular is the key. Keeping your gut doing it’s job, moving things along, is how it stays at peak performance. It’s how nutrients are absorbed and best utilized thoughout the body.
But, my midlife sisters, if you’re like me, sometimes we need a little help in this area. So, if you’re in need of a boost, start taking a probiotic.
Start a probiotic.
I began taking a probiotic last year, and it has made all the difference in my gut health. If my gut is healthy, odds are the rest of me will be too.
Us midlifers have grown up thinking that ‘bacteria’ is a bad word and should be avoided. Actually, we need good bacteria in our digestive tracts.
Do your own research about which probiotic may be best for you. Your local health food store will have good information on the various strains available. The bottles will name the bacteria that are contained in the capsules. Some have more dairy (with lacto in the name) and some need to stay refrigerated.
If you do get sick and need an ‘antibiotic’ your doctor may also ask you to take a probiotic during or after taking an antibiotic prescription. This will help your gut to restore normalcy after an antibiotic kills off all the germs (both good and bad) in your gut.
Be fierce with water intake.
We need more water in winter.
Because we’re not as sweaty from just living our lives (unless you live in Florida) our lack of water is not as noticeable. We like to stay warm and toasty with the heat or fireplace on, and this also dries out the air in our homes.
If nothing else, keep your skin from drying out and those wrinkles at bay by drinking water daily. A good daily target for water intake is around 64 oz.
We must be diligent to drink water every day, even when we’re not thirsty.
If you have a smart phone or smart watch, there are tons of available apps that will remind you to drink water.
Actually my phone literally now tells me to breathe. This is good because midlife has stolen my brain and I’d be lost without my phone.
Water, like a diet filled with fruits and vegetables, is also critical to your gut health. It helps to keep things moving, along with fiber.
Here’s an overlooked fact: The cold dry season can leave your skin itchy and scaly. Did you know that taking long, hot showers can actually dry out your skin? Yep. Mind your shower time during these cold months. Either take shorter showers or just lower the temperature a bit. Use a moisturizer often, but the best moisturizer is drinking plain old water.
Vitamin D is your best friend.
I currently have two feet of snow in my yard. Yep, TWO….FEET. I live in the mountain west and am always excited when the first snow arrives.
BUT, usually by the end of January, I’m ready for more sunny days. My mood visibly changes when the sun is shining outside. The world outside my window literally changes from back and white to technicolor when the sun pops out. It’s amazing.
We need the sun during the winter months. It showers down precious Vitamin D which we need for many reasons. Vitamin D keeps our mood lifted and also keeps our bones strong.
Vitamin D should be on your list of blood tests that you need to ask your doctor for when you have your complete physical this year. Hint, hint.
Us midlife mamas desperately need both of these things, an uplifted state of mind, and bone health. If you’re feeling a little down and sluggish, get your Vitamin D level checked. Most of us need a little help in this area as we age.
Revamp your routines.
How’s the exercising going? I know. It’s hard to move your body when it’s cold and snowy and you just want to snuggle on the couch with a heaping dose of Netflix.
Get your body moving. Even if it’s just a little. (And I’m preaching to myself here as much as you.)
Find a Youtube channel with a yoga class. There’s tons of them. Walk around the block. Head to the gym, if that’s your cup of tea. Get out and enjoy the snow!
If the weather permits, taking a walk or a sport outside kills two birds with one stone as it also boosts your vitamin D level. Aren’t we the little mutitaskers!! LOL
The idea here is that getting some exercise during the winter months may be more important than the rest of the year. More of our bodily systems depend on it.
Exercise boosts mood by releasing seratonin into your brain. Seratonin is the happy hormone that we lack when depression hits.
Moving our bodies also helps to keep us regular. Again, this helps the digestive system, which helps our immune system…..etc. Are you seeing a pattern here?
Invite a friend over.
During these winter months, your emotional health can take a hit.
Learn to notice your mood as you begin to just keep to yourself and want to be alone. Ask yourself , “Why?”
You may have to force yourself to get out and be more social. It’s good for your brain health.
Depression can hit hard these long winter days, largely because of the reasons above. We’re not getting exercise. Our vitamin D levels may be low. We’re not drinking water.
Your health, physical and emotional, is a product of all of these things. EVERYTHING works together to fight off germs and disease.
Simply put, your brain is just another organ that works in tandem with your other bodily systems. A miraculous creation, the human body is. And being able to notice the signs when something is off is so tantamount to your overall health.
Just to recap, our bodily systems are concentric circles that all affect each other. How we eat is vitally important in these midlife years. Especially in the cold, dry winter months. Water becomes the magic tonic that, along with fiber, keeps the gut healthy. You may need to jump start your gut health by adding a probiotic.
Be vigilant about your winter emotional heath by adding a Vitamin D supplement if you’re feeling the winter blahs (after checking with your doctor). Lastly, get out and have some fun with your friends. Don’t just stay holed up in your cocoon where the sun never hits your beautiful face.
Hang in there, my sweet friends! Let’s see the beauty of winter as we wait for the warm sun of spring!
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