The focus of this week's blog is Citrus, Sanitize and Sun, and ways in which they will keep us healthy this winter. As discussed in an earlier blog, to remain healthy consume foods which provide our bodies with vitamins and nutrients, and in particular this week, we can also increase our citrus intake. Citrus fruits provide us with essential vitamins and fiber that is necessary this time of year to boost the immune system, lower cholesterol, provide energy and aid in digestion. We can also remember to wash those germs away, paying particular attention to our hands, keeping them clean, dry and warm. And finally, we should go out and get some sun and fresh air!
Citrus fruits provide our bodies with huge doses of Vitamin C. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system and lowers cholesterol in the blood. Citrus fruits are refreshing and can provide other vitamins also, Vitamins A and E, potassium and fiber, all of which aid in healing. They're rich in antioxidants and assist the body in absorbing iron. There are a variety of citrus fruits available this time of year, here are a few: Oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons and limes. Oranges are found in many varieties to include valencia, naval, blood oranges, mandarin, satsumas and clementines. You'll find clementines in the market from October through February. Blood oranges are an excellent source of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and, like vitamin C, also reduces the risk of disease. Satsuma oranges have a sweet and tart taste, and they melt in your mouth. They're juicy and burst with flavor, also adding flavor to main dishes. The juices can be squeezed onto green salads or used in sorbets.
Other citrus fruits available now are guava, kiwi and kumquats. Guava contains the antioxidant lycopene, which may help prevent coronary artery disease. Kiwis are filled with immunity-boosting vitamin C. Their slices are delicious when added to a spinach salad. Kiwi contains potassium and vitamin E and are a good source of flavonoid antioxidants. It also has an abundance of dietary fiber. Kumquats have a sweet skin and a tart flesh, so you can eat the whole fruit, it's skin and flesh. They provide potassium and vitamins A and C. They're also a good source of fiber. Kumquats are often found in preserves and make a nice addition to chutneys or marinades for beef, pork, or chicken. They're also available canned. Use these citrus fruits also in beverages, baked goods, and sauces.
Handwashing is a very simple way to avoid infections and can make a real difference in preserving health, and further, it could be the most important element of disease prevention. Many infection-causing germs can be kept under control with handwashing. Handwashing removes microscopic pathogens that can cause illness and has been proven to actually save lives. Handwashing with soap helps to prevent flu, acute respiratory infection, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, heat rash, spots, dysentery and ear infection.
Rinsing hands aren't as effective as using soap and water to wash hands. Soap helps to dislodge and loosen dirt and germs on the hands which are then rinsed away. Germs can survive on your hands from between one and three hours, so it is important to wash hands regularly throughout the day, especially this time of year. This includes handwashing before eating and preparing food, after sneezing, blowing your nose, coughing, after petting animals or being in pet environments, after being out on errands, especially after shopping, banking, etc., and more commonly after toileting. Be careful not to touch your face (nose, mouth, eyes, ears) without first washing your hands.
here are five easy steps for good handwashing: wet hands thoroughly; use soap, an antibacterial soap when possible; rub hands together for 20 seconds (under nails and around cuticles, wash palms well and the back of hands); rinse well, and dry thoroughly. Simply running water over your hands is not enough. Also don't forget to use a moisturizer at night on hands, and wear gloves during the day to keep hands warm and protected. Clean gloves often as well. Following these steps will go a long way in preventing germs and bacteria from entering your bodily system.
The best source of vitamin D comes from natural sunshine and spending time in the sun each day is important. As little as 5 minutes in direct sunlight a day can improve your health. There is a well documented relationship between low Vitamin D levels and poor bone health which can lead to Osteoporosis and a number of other health issues. Getting sun increases calcium absorption, thereby, encouraging healthy bone growth. In winter it is more difficult than any other season to increase sun intake, so finding ways to be outdoors is important. If you'd like to spend some time outdoors this winter, take advantage of sunny days.
For those who work inside, this may mean making an effort to get out at lunchtime, maybe taking a brisk walk before or after lunch. The fresh air will be beneficial on many levels, strengthening lung function and providing an overall sense of wellbeing. This exercise break has been shown to improve your overall mood which makes for a more enjoyable day.
Other tips for getting sun in winter are to engage in winter sports, runs or local marathons, wrapping up and taking a walk on the beach or if possible, snowboarding, ice skating or hockey. Keep a check on the forecast and take advantage of occasional milder temperatures and work outside in the yard, clearing brush or washing the car. Caution from the sun's most damaging rays in summer is beneficial, but the sunscreen that is important to use in summer is not as necessary in winter. When possible, don't wear a hat and layer clothing to keep the torso warm while exposing some of the arms and legs. There is a safe level of sun intake assigned to all seasons, and 10 minutes a day will give your body the message to make more vitamin D.
Vitamin D begins as a relative of cholesterol in the form of molecules, which are stored in your skin waiting to absorb sunlight. These molecules are transformed into previtamins which are processed by the liver and kidneys into a final form, which then travels to the Vit D receptors that exist in the cells of your body, thereby, producing this essential vitamin.
A deficiency in Vit D can leave one feeling tired, sluggish, and with low energy. In order to obtain more Vit D in winter you can also eat foods which contain higher amounts of Vitamin D like mackerel, salmon, and egg yolks. Vitamin D can also be found in cod liver oil. Vitamin D supplements are another option for obtaining more Vit D. You'll find that you will have more energy and will feel stronger for the day ahead.
Stay tuned for the next blog! when we will discuss more tips on staying well.