This month Dr. Ludovic Brunel discusses how to stay healthy as the colder weather approaches…..
September has come to an end and with it Summer has ended. Soon there will be snow, less sunshine and colder temperatures. Any change comes with its share of stress and can potentially affect our mood and our health. The Fall is particularly stressful for families with students returning to school. The potential impact of seasonal changes on our health can be profound.
It is well known that some people will suffer from depression in the Winter with complete resolution of their symptoms in the summer, a condition referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The lack of sunshine and need for warmer clothing also leads to a well-documented drop in vitamin D levels in Canadians during the winter months. Given the importance of vitamin D for our bones, blood sugar levels, mood, hormones and for the prevention of cancer, vitamin D supplementation during the winter is very important.
As any arthritic patient can attest, colder temperatures affect our joints and are often a challenge for the one in six Canadian adults affected by joint pain. Physical exercise also becomes more challenging with the colder temperatures, snowy roads and slippery sidewalks.
Inactivity in the winter comes with a higher risk for heart disease. If you become sedentary in the winter, the intense exercise needed to clear heavy snow from your sidewalk or driveway increases your risk of having a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, the rate of heart attacks is highest in the winter due to a combination of shoveling and cold temperatures.
So now that Summer is behind us, you should make every effort to stay active, supplement with vitamin D, and support your mood and immune system.
For depression, 5-HTP has been shown to be beneficial in some clinical studies. For stress and anxiety, GABA was shown to reduce scores of tension, anxiety, and depression. Support for the adrenal glands is also important if you are feeling stressed. Several plant extracts can be useful and include Rhodiola, Ashwagandha and Eleutherococcus. Products combining these ingredients are available and are usually very helpful with research showing significant reductions in symptoms of depression, fatigue and insomnia – while improving the ability to focus and concentrate.
In terms of supporting the immune system, vitamin D is an excellent choice had has been shown to reduce the incidence of colds and flus. Probiotics and vitamin C are also very helpful and a good multivitamin is always a must in any season!