Winter is the season of colds, flu, and hair loss. Its cold and drying effect on the body leaves you susceptible to viruses and harmful bacteria, not to mention, many people complain about excessive hair loss. However, I’ve found a surefire way to prevent those aches, ills, and stresses by following a few really basic guidelines.
Here’s the secret:
Remember the letters MLH, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy winter. Let me break this down for you.
In the winter the whole body gets cold and dry. Inside, you end up with these little pockets of stresses that are the perfect breeding ground for disease causing germs. A seed can only take root in stable soil, but if there’s erosion or the soil is not fertile, the tiny sprout dies because it has nothing to support it’s growth.
In that same way, imagine a virus trying to take root in your body when there’s no natural cleansing and erosion taking place. Let’s say that your nose is dry and congested – something that happens in winter even without an infection. Instead of the mucus in your sinuses forming a smooth, protective coating and constantly moving and draining, there are dry spots, and some spots not protected by the mucus. The role of the mucus is to protect and cleanse the areas of your body that are susceptible to disease. If it’s not working properly, the virus has direct access to your cells, starts making copies, and pretty soon you’re stuck with two weeks of miserable snot-filled sleep or the full on flu.
In the same way, your hair needs proper nourishment to grow! If your skin is dry and cracked, and if nutrients aren’t flowing to your skin and scalp, you end up with hair loss.
Your entire body relies on the healthy movement of bodily fluids for healthy functioning. If blood can’t get to the heart, you have a heart attack. If nutrients can’t get to the cells, they don’t function optimally. If your joints don’t have proper lubrication, you end up with damage and pain in the joints. And like the example above, if mucus in your lungs and sinuses don’t move, you end up sick with a cold. Even your colon and kidneys rely on daily movement to function optimally!
So, here’s how we’re going to get ready to be healthy this winter. Let’s start with M: Moisturize.
When I think about moisturizing, I’m thinking about adding water. The only real way to add water is to literally consume or apply it. However, things get tricky in the winter because water absorbs into the body more slowly when the body is cold and/or the water is cold. Also, applying too much water to the outside of the body can literally wash away necessary oils that will help protect and nourish the body. In order to make sure you are adding appropriate moisture, you’ll want to make sure the water is prepared properly. We know that boiling water before drinking it help to push it into the tissues faster. If you don’t like sipping on hot water throughout the day, you can always boil it in the morning, let it cool to room temperature, and sip that throughout the day. Personally, I like to make a big thermos of warm, spiced, decaffeinated tea, and sip on that throughout the day. Not only does that ensure my body is getting enough water, but it also guarantees that it will absorb quickly to provide the moisture my body needs for proper functioning.
Here are a couple of nice, warming teas you can add to your winter routine. In addition to warming the body, they also contain herbs that calm the nerves and prevent anxious feelings:
Or you can make the tea yourself: Make Your Own Winter Tea
Next up: Lubricate! Your body has a natural way to lubricate itself, but it relies on you for help! The winter can make us feeling cold and stiff with aches in our joints in the morning. This ISN’T just a symptom of getting old unless you allow it to be. The reason why young people don’t wake up with aches and pains in because their body is more efficient at lubricating itself, and they are moving and playing which brings that lubrication into much needed parts of the body. I’ve found myself in the habit of doing some very relaxing morning yoga (12 rounds of sun salutation) when I get out of bed, but any kind of movement will work. Here are a couple of videos to demonstrate easy ways to get your body moving and lubricated:
Of course any exercises will work to get your joints warmed up and lubed up! If you like high intensity, go for it!!
Lubrication isn’t just for the inside of the body! It’s also for the outside and the parts that get exposed to the outside elements. I’m talking about your skin and your sinuses! These are two major entry points of germs that can get damaged during the winter, but it’s easy to protect them with proper lubrication.
Each morning before waking up, I’ve started the practice of Abhyanga which is a gentle oil massage for the whole body. It feels soooo good to rub my whole body down in the morning, and it really wakes me up. You perform this massage upon waking in the morning – before your shower. It protects the skin and supports the natural lipid barrier so you don’t get dry, cracked skin in the winter. Pay extra attention to your feet!
If you need extra help in the hair retention area, applying oils to the scalp and sleeping with a cap at night will both bring needed nutrients to the hair and scalp, and prevent fall out and breakage. I use organic caster oil on my hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. My sister Gina is a Monat consultant, and they have an amazing hair oil that would be perfect for winter: Rejuvenique Oil Intensive.
Also, at least once a day I recommend nasal oil to ensure proper lubrication in the sinuses. I like this one: Nasal Oil, but any kind of organic, cured sesame or olive oil will do. Note to allergy sufferers: this also prevents allergens from triggering your mast cells! Since I began using a nasal oil 2 years ago, I’ve been booger and sinus infection free. In fact, in a previous MRI of my head, I had chronic sinus inflammation from years of sinus infections, and in my most recent MRI there was no evidence of inflammation. My breathing is clearer, and I spend a lot less money on Kleenex! HA!
Finally, don’t forget that you need to hydrate. Hydrating doesn’t mean just drinking water. It means you find a way to retain the water that is lost from a dry winter. For the skin, I look for products that are water based and/or contain humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. I recommend safe, organic, and vegan brands including Beauty Counter which makes Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream! My friend Katie Britton is a rep for this company, and you can find out more information at her Facebook group here: Katie Britton – Beautycounter.
Hydrating your sinuses can mean using a neti pot which uses a saline solution to dry more moisture into the sinus cavity. I know it’s uncomfortable, but it’s definitely key to keeping dry sinuses hydrated.
In the winter, the body dries out from the inside, so for proper hydration make sure you cook lots of warm soups and stews or pastas that contain a little extra natural salt (sea salt or Himalayan salt) and healthy oils (organic olive, sesame, sunflower, coconut, or avocado) and contain foods with gelatin and sea veggies. This is one of my favorite winter dishes if you’re in a dinner rut and can’t stand another day of soup: Winter Pasta for Vata. There’s something so yummy about the bright lemon with the fennel, carrots, and soothing, salty oil on top of warm pasta. It’s satiating, vegan, and will brighten any dull day.
Now, that I’ve shared the secret to health this winter, you can apply these in your life and expect to get measurable results! As long as you remember M: Moisturize, L: Lubricate, and H: Hydrate, you’ll be well on your way to conquer the winter!
I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season filled with lots of warmth, comfort, and joy!
With all my love,
The Guru Girl