Feeling The Winter Blues Here’s What You Can Do …

As the mercury is dipping, slight nip in the morning air is palpable. This seasonal change can make one prone to infections and flu. Normally people with a weak immune system are the first to endure. As the seasons change having a strong immunity is pivotal to prevent and fight infections. During winters people frequently contract cold, cough, bronchitis, sinuses and flu like infections. Even Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects people more often in winters where they face difficulty waking up in the morning, feel drowsy throughout the day, lethargic, tired or run-down feeling coupled with tendency to oversleep & overeat.

An effective remedy for maintaining health and making up for this seasonal change will include good nutrition, exercise, sunlight exposure, supplements (wherever needed) and herbal preparations.

Nutrition – One cannot undermine the benefits of good nutrition in boosting overall health and wellbeing. After all, “You are what you eat”. Food is the only fuel that drives your body. Seasonal fruits and vegetables should be your go to when it comes to building a robust immunity. Often packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they prevent seasonal infections and flu.

Exercise – Exercise is crucial for staying fit, healthy and active. Any bodily activity done regularly helps to maintain or enhance the physical fitness. Frequent and regular exercise also boosts the immune system. Apart from cardio and resistance workouts, a special mention for activities like yogasana, meditation and pranayam which helps regulate stress response thereby suppressing chronic inflammation and improving immune regulation.

Sunlight exposure – While exercising in the open you get not only fresh air but even your daily dose of Vitamin D from Sunlight. Many research suggest Vitamin D is vital for immune functions and decreases risk for developing auto-immune conditions or upper respiratory tract infections. Sunlight exposure stimulates the hypothalamus in the brain responsible for controlling the circadian rhythm and it also increases your serotonin that helps you stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Supplements – Any deficiency of vital nutrients should be addressed immediately to keep up with the maintenance of a strong immune response. Newer researches are increasingly finding out that supplements like vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc can boost your immunity.

Herbal preparations – Traditionally most Indian households use some herbal preparations or concoctions at the advent of seasonal change. Here we will read about how herbal drops can be beneficial. To boost immunity along with climate change these 3 daily drops will help you immensely.

Tulsi – A well-known adaptogen which helps you to adapt or acclimatise to the changing surroundings or seasons. Tulsi drops are super effective in reducing asthma, cold, cough and infections like sinusitis or bronchitis. In case of cold and congestion having Tulsi drops with warm water is effective in clearing the nose and lungs. Tulsi is well known for its myriad of medicinal properties as it is a powerful antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial. Tulsi extracts have shown immunomodulatory response by improving the body’s response in fighting antigens (like bacteria, microbes, viruses, fungi, allergens, etc) by antibody production. Liquid aqueous extract of Tulsi also produces a reduction in the total bacterial count and an increase in the total neutrophil & lymphocyte count with a demonstrated good phagocytic ability, all determiners of a strong immune response. Eugenol present in Tulsi has been effective in combating several pathogens by disrupting their cell membranes.

Turmeric – Indians have known the health benefits of Turmeric for thousands of years. It has been used to fight inflammation, infections and get rid of toxins. Turmerone is a major bioactive compound found in Turmeric. Like Curcumin, Turmerones is one of the most well-researched natural therapeutic compound. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and potent anti-oxidant. Turmeric’s detoxification property promotes healthy digestion and relief from stomach disorders. The medicinal properties in Turmeric may be able to boost the immune system even in people with existing immune disorders. Also helpful for people with chronic stress as it has immune balancing properties.

Ginger – Gingerol, a compound found in ginger is highly effective against cough, sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger is also a powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Ginger is one of the best remedy for gastro disorders like dyspepsia, stomach ache, flatulence, indigestion, colic, spasms, ulcers, nausea, food poisoning and intestinal infections. It is also effective in helping reduce or relieve pain. Overall a very strong anti-oxidant with multiple health benefits.

A special mention of two more herbal drops that boost immunity but not relatively native to the Indian context.

Rosemary – It cleanses the liver and subtly improves immunity. Analgesic effects of Rosemary relieve colic pain & dysmenorrhea.

Vetiver – An overall good tonic that keeps the metabolic system in check. It is also an excellent treatment for inflammation caused by sun stroke & dehydration.

How to use these drops to boost immunity?

Take Tulsi, Turmeric and Ginger drops in Water regularly – 5 drops in water when you wake up in the morning and 5 drops in water before you hit the bed in the evening.

These drops can alternatively be also used in Green tea or Black tea with lemon. Similarly, these can be even added to Buttermilk on a daily basis.

Stay clear of factors that can impair the immune system such as chronic stress, vitamin / mineral deficiencies, lack of sleep, exposure to toxins and unhealthy habits. We have heard the age old saying umpteen number of times that ‘Prevention is better than cure’. And the right time to put it into practice is during this critical period of seasonal flu and viral pandemic. Following all the above guidelines, we can now get through the winter season without passing around any flu or infections.

Dr. Kamna Desai

Dietitian, Mumbai

A qualified Dietitian from Mumbai with over 20 years of expertise in the field of health and nutrition.