The long summer days are over. It has been a tumultuous year and with the colder weather settling in, it is now more important than ever to look after ourselves and our health. Luckily, we’ve put together 8 top tips to help you through the winter months.
1. FRESH AIR
When there is a cold nip in the air it is tempting to stay snuggled up indoors, and the rise of home working means many of us don’t need to leave the house at all. However research shows  that getting out for at least 20 minutes of fresh air every day will increase energy levels and improve feelings of overall well-being.
2. EMBRACE THE DARK
In a few short weeks, the clocks will change and while this gives us all an extra hour in bed, it signals a shift towards fewer daylight hours and darker evenings. Did you know the shortest day in winter gives us LESS THAN HALF the daylight of the longest day in summer? You Gov research revealed that 29% of adults in the UK suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during winter and startlingly women are 40% more likely to suffer than men.
One way to combat this is to embrace winter. Ensure you get outside during daylight hours and make the most of the natural light that is available. Then make your home as cosy as possible during the evening. Put up fairy lights, light candles (natural wax only so you avoid harmful chemicals) and have an evening bath. If you’ve got kids – enjoy that fact that the darker evenings make it easier to get them to bed early!
3. ENSURE YOU GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sufficient sleep is vital for health since your body goes into repair mode when you sleep, and studies  have shown that sleep deprivation causes a whole host of issues including lowering our immune systems and making us more susceptible to colds. Most people need 8 hours of sleep for optimum health. However, the darker winter days can suppress the release of melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep cycle) and this can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Having a regular bedtime and getting up at the same time in the morning will balance your rhythm and help you maintain a normal sleep cycle. Ideally, you want to go to sleep when you get tired and let your body wake you without an alarm clock. If you do need an alarm, think about investing in one which wakes you gradually with increasing light and gentle sounds.
4. STAY HYDRATED
In autumn and winter, the temperature fluctuations (going from the cold outside into the indoor warmth) and central heating generally can be extremely drying for the skin. It is therefore vital to keep your skin hydrated. Choose a gentle cleanser without perfume and alcohol along with a high-quality moisturiser. We recommend including Hyaluronic Acid (HA) in both your skincare and in supplement form, as is great for keeping skin moisturised. Studies  show that taking a quality hyaluronic acid supplement (of at least 200mg) leads to an increase in skin hydration of 24%. And of course – don’t forget to drink lots of water each day.
5. PREPARE YOUR WARDROBE
There is a famous Swedish saying “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Well, at Ingenious we encourage you to embrace the cold – but to do so you need to be prepared. Did you ever hear the myth that half of the heat from our body is lost through our heads? Well, it isn’t true! The misconception originated from a flawed experience in the 1950s but has since been disproven . We now know that the head is no more important than any other part of the body in terms of heat escaping. So go through your wardrobe and organise your winter clothes. It is actually more important to keep your core (your torso) warm because this releases blood to the extremities.
A good way to keep your core warm is by wearing lots of layers (in natural, breathable fabrics). Breathable fabrics are important because they allow our body’s moisture to pass through them, and the moisture will generally evaporate on the outside of the fabric. If you wear a non-breathable man-made fabric, any sweat or body moisture will become trapped next to the skin which is not only uncomfortable, it is potentially dangerous – being wet the weather is cold is bad. So, natural, breathable fabrics, with a focus on your core. And even though the head isn’t more important than the rest of your body for heat retention, on cold days you’ll still need a hat!
6. MAINTAIN HEALTHY HABITS
During this difficult time with Covid-19, we are all aware of the importance of regular hand washing. You may also want to consider getting a flu vaccine and think about supplements you can take to protect yourself. Vitamin D is an important supplement to consider during winter and is present in fatty fish, egg yolk, mushrooms and fortified foods like cereals. However, it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food and sunshine alone during winter. In fact studies  have shown that levels of vitamin D deficiency in the UK rise from around 10% in summer to 40% in winter. Vitamin D is important since it helps you absorb calcium from your diet and keeps your gut microbes healthy which means you’ll be more resistant to infection and inflammation.
7. TAKE YOUR ANTIOXIDANTS
With winter being the typical season of colds and flu, it is especially important that you are getting enough antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals. When our free radical levels become too high it is damaging to our body (free radicals are a major cause of visible ageing and a contributing factor to illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease). You can find antioxidants in dark chocolate, nuts and many types of fruit and vegetables.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, so citrus fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, oranges and limes are all excellent for providing the body with antioxidants. However, the most powerful antioxidant ever discovered is Astaxanthin! Astaxanthin has a whole host of health benefits. It is 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C at fighting free radicals and it has been proven to improve eye health, protect your skin from damaging UV rays and it is even good for your brain. Astaxanthin is present in prawns, crab and wild salmon and you can also get it by taking a supplement. Just ensure it is high-quality natural astaxanthin and you’ll want to take at least 4mg a day for it to be effective.
8. KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Happy people are less likely to get sick! In 2003 a study  by Dr Cohen found that happy people are less likely to succumb to the common cold. Happy people are more likely to engage in healthy habits, but even more than that, when the brain is “happy” it sends messages to our organs that help keep the body healthy and sound.
So when the days start drawing in and the weather becomes miserable, it is important to try to remain positive. Schedule little treats for yourself to ensure you have something to look forward to and keep a gratitude journal. In a 10-week study  by Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough, revealed that people who kept a gratitude journal were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Interestingly, they also exercised more and visited the doctor less.
So there we have it – our eight top tips for staying healthy this autumn. And it so happens that all our Ingenious supplements contain both Hyaluronic Acid and Astaxanthin – so that ticks two off your list already!