Can weather change affect your body?

By-Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.

Changes in weather are basically challenges to our immune system and to our musculoskeletal system. Our bodies get used to a certain climate, and when those things change suddenly, our body has to try to adapt. Unfortunately, sometimes our bodies have a difficult time adjusting, which can trigger an illness. (1)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that dry winter air allows cold and flu viruses to survive longer and transmit more easily. 

The research suggests that the virus’ exterior coating becomes tougher when the temperature is close to freezing. This extra strength helps viruses be more active and resilient. (2)

Sudden exposure to colder weather does not make you sick in itself. You need to be exposed to bacteria or viruses for this to happen. The bad news is that the change in humidity can weaken your immune system, make you more susceptible to germs and viruses you may encounter, and increase the likelihood of you getting sick. (3)

 

Tips to Avoid Getting Sick
  • Eat green vegetables: Green, leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins that help you maintain a balanced diet and support a healthy immune system.
  • Get Vitamin D: Deficiencies in vitamin D may lead to symptoms such as poor bone growth, cardiovascular problems, and a weak immune system. Foods that are good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, mushrooms, salmon, canned tuna. You can also buy vitamin D supplements at your local grocery store or pharmacy. This is especially important for those with dark skin, since they don’t get vitamin D as easily from exposure to sunlight.
  • Keep moving: Staying active by following a regular exercise routine such as walking three times a week does more than keep you fit and trim. Regular exercise also: accelerates the circulation of disease-fighting white blood cells (WBCs), which helps the body fight the common cold.
  • Get enough sleep: Getting adequate sleep is extremely important if you’ve been exposed to a virus, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Healthy adult participants who slept a minimum of eight hours each night over a two-week period showed a greater resistance to the virus. Those who slept seven hours or less each night were about three percent more likely to develop the virus after exposure.
  • Drink green tea: For centuries, green tea has been associated with good health. Green tea’s health benefits may be due to its high level of antioxidants, called flavonoids.
  • Add color to meals: Cooking with all colors of the rainbow will help you get a wide range of vitamins such as vitamin C. (4)
  • Cleaning your hands is the best way to stop the spread of infection. Your hands can carry germs that you may not be able to see.  Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Avoid touching your face, such as your eyes, nose, or mouth, because that is where germs on your hands can enter your body.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces and objects.  These are surfaces that people often touch, such as door knobs, light switches, and diaper changing areas.  Some germs can live on surfaces for a long time, and be carried by your hand when you touch the surface.  Follow the cleaning instructions on your cleaning products.
  • Stay at home if you are sick, so you do not spread the illness to others.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue or into your arm to prevent spreading germs to others.
  • Practice safe food handling.  Food can become contaminated by germs.  Wash all uncooked fruits and vegetables in clean water.  Cook your food to the proper temperature.  Always use a separate cutting board for raw meat and for cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Be sure to wash and sanitize after each use. 
  • Do not share personal items, such as hairbrushes, toothbrushes, cups, water bottles, utensils, and razors.  Some germs can pass through saliva and blood.  Wash dishes in soap and water after use.
  • Stay away from wild animals and protect yourself against insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks.  Some animals and insects can carry germs that can make you seriously ill.
  • Stay active and make healthy food choices. Doing so makes your body stronger, so that it can better fight off germs and prevent infections. (5)

References:

  1. https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/can-a-sudden-change-in-the-weather-affect-your-health
  2. https://www.aurorahealthcare.org/patients-visitors/blog/why-do-i-get-sick-when-the-seasons-change
  3. https://www.mountelizabeth.com.sg/healthplus/article/weather-changes-cold-vs-flu
  4. https://www.wechu.org/z-health-topics/infection-prevention-tips-avoid-getting-sick
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/cold-flu-secrets

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