“Mijo, put on a jacket or you will catch a cold!” How often were we exhorted to don a jacket when going outside in cold weather. On one level this makes sense anecdotally. If it’s 20 degrees and you go out there in shorts and a muscle shirt, you will be freezing and shivering. (Read here to see if shivering really is that bad.) Is it necessarily true that cold weather makes us sick and predisposes us to catching a cold? Let’s look at some reasons we get sick in wintertime.
Reasons We Get Sick In Wintertime
So let’s dispel the myth right here and now. Cold weather does not make us sick. (For the sake of this article we will not be discussing the rare cases of hypothermia.) Microbes get you sick whether it be in the form of bacteria, fungus, or viruses NOT COLD WEATHER.
They are ever-present in all months of the year, but certain factors in the cold months of the year make us more predisposed to getting an infection caused by the aforementioned. Let look in depth at reasons we get sick in wintertime.
The Bug Catcher
Similar to that gooey cockroach trap we lay out in the kitchen floor, our body has a similar mechanism to catch pathogens. Our mucous. Yes, you know what our nasal mucous is. Every time you pick your nose your feel it (don’t deny you pick your nose on occasion.). The job of the mucous is to trap pathogens that might enter through our nose. And since we are supposed to breath in our nose (and exhale through our mouth), the nasal mucous is quite busy catching and expelling these pathogens.
The problem ensues in the cold months. Cold, dry weather DRIES OUR MUCOUS. So now that pesky rotovirus that was so easily trapped and expelled can easily burrow into our nasal membrane and into our body. Solution: use a humidifier as much as you can.
Sunlight and Vitamin D
Let’s look at some other reasons we get sick in wintertime. As a whole we are indoors more during the winter months. Though some of us might love outdoor winter sports the common belief is that we should stay indoors either for comfort, laziness, or the fear of “catching a cold.”
The problem with this is we are not absorbing as much Vitamin D. Vitamin D is absolutely crucial for the maintenance of our immune system (as well as weight loss, weight maintenance, bone health, heart health, and much more). Our Vitamin D levels drop in the winter since we are not getting sun which weakens our immune system which makes us more predisposed to getting sick. It also doesn’t help that the sunlight in the winter isn’t as strong as in the summer.
Think about it…how often do you “catch a cold” or the flu in the summer? Rarely. Especially if you are hanging out at the pool for a few years a day without sunscreen. Check out this Holistic Health News episode on the Dangerous Toxins in Sunscreen.
Couple of solutions you can implement. One, you can supplement your diet with Vitamin D3 pills. You should honestly do this daily since 90% of Americans are deficient in this vitamin but certainly in the winter it is recommended.
I personally take 5,000-10,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily during the winter. (Don’t buy D2 for it isn’t as well absorbed.) Take your D vitamin with food, preferably fatty food and don’t take it at night time since it could affect your sleep.
And the biggest biohack vis-à-vis Vitamin D…..get outside! Even if it is 20 degrees. Take a walk, go hiking, cross-country or regular skiing or just lay out on the porch with some green tea or coffee.
Got The Munchies?
Another of the reasons we get sick in wintertime is we tend to eat more crap junk food. I lived in Alaska during the late 90’s and remember reading somewhere that Alaskans have the highest per-capita consumption of ice cream. Ice Cream?! It is freezing there 7 months out of the year and people are eating a cold dessert? That doesn’t make sense.
On some levels it makes complete sense. Studies show when it is cold, we tend to stay indoors more. And it makes sense that as we stay indoors more, we veer toward the “comfort” foods of sweet treats. High-sugar, high-fat processed foods are shown to deleteriously affect our health on numerous levels (diabetes, obesity, cancer) but it also affects our immune system.
“You are what your eat.” Eating low-nutritious foods prevents your cells from getting optimal nutrition so they may work at their best. As a result our white blood cells can’t work as efficiently which makes us more predisposed to getting sick. Solution: embrace more of a #eatclean, Paleo diet of increased vegetables and meats. Lessen your carb and sugar load.
Since many people are not taking the necessary steps to optimize their immune system in the winter, they get sick. And then either due to the fact that they don’t want to use their sick days or because the parents push them to go to school for attendance purposes, they go to their respective destination sick. As a result they spew their contagious microbes to the rest of us indoors. Since most people stay indoors more during the winter, this is a perfect recipe to get someone else’s sickness.
Keep the Bugs Away!
So in Reasons We Get Sick In Wintertime we have discussed some reasons we get sick in wintertime. Let’s talk about some preventative steps you can enact that will minimize your chances of getting a respiratory illness. Now none of these are foolproof so don’t throw tomatoes at my face if you have tried them and still catch a cold.
As we have mentioned, being outdoors does two great things. One, it keeps you away from sick people in their confined spaces. Secondly, it increases your chances of getting sunlight. Win-win! Layer up and go enjoy God’s country. Check out our Holistic Health News episode on Benefits of Shivering.
Minimize the consumption of flour-based treats like crackers, cookies, muffins, cakes and alike as well as commercially-bought juices and sodas. Increase your fruits and vegetables, make homemade juices, smoothies, and soups, and eat pastured-raised meats and eggs.
Most importantly eat foods that strengthen your microbiome since much of our immune system resides there and a direct correlations exists between a strong gut health and our ability to knock out.
Wash Your Hands
Sanitize and wash those hands. I’m certainly not big into the anti-microbial soaps since they tend to lead to antibiotic resistant-strands and contain Triclosan, a hormone disruptor, but do wash your hands often. Remember the most pathogen-laden part of a bathroom is the DOOR HANDLE LEAVING the bathroom. Use a paper towel to open it.
Let Them Touch It
Door handles, cell phones, and other things touched by hundreds if not thousands of people daily are great reservoirs for germs. If you must touch it, use your hips, elbows, or the sleeve of your jacket/sweater to open the door. Try not to use your fingers. And please wash those hands before you put those fingers near your face.
Prevention Is Best
Optimize your immune system by taking high amounts of Vitamin C (at least 4,000-5,000 mgs a day), Vitamin D, glutathione, Echinacea, and antioxidants. C & D are crucial in the winter.
As mentioned, consider purchasing a humidifier. It will help keep your mucous wet in the evenings and make it less likely to dry out.
Get a humidifier and other items mentioned in this article now.
Studies show that fasting or utilizing a compressed eating window might strengthen your immune system. It makes sense given your body is focused on autophagy, mitochondrial reproduction, and “clean up” the debris while fasting and doesn’t have to focus its attention on breaking down food, insulin issues, and alike.
“No Flu Shot For You!”
Please do not take the flu shot. Most years it is ineffective 60-70% of the time (they make the batch for the wrong strand) plus it contains adjuvants and preservatives like mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde which wreak havoc on your endocrine, nervous, and immune systems.
There are other reasons we get sick in wintertime, but I wanted to cover the main points. Worst case scenario, you get a virus or bacteria you will be debilitated for a few days. Biohack your body by certainly implementing the aforementioned steps and you will be back to normal in a jiffy!