The Moxie Mountie

Staying healthy throughout winter: Fighting back with proper nutrition

Shealyn Paulis, News Journalist

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In the winter, it is difficult to stay healthy. While being in enclosed spaces frequently, personal contact happens more often and sickness is transmitted easily. 

In the colder seasons, the entire body changes, and one’s immune system behaves in a completely different manner. A quarter of human DNA changes its makeup in the winter compared to the warmer months, in order to keep warmer and increase inflammation.

Inflammation is the body’s reaction to harm, such as frostbite. In the winter, people are more susceptible to harm.

According to researchers at journals.plos.org, during the winter months, people’s bodies pump up the levels of many of the genes linked with inflammation, triggering the tell-tale signs of swelling and discomfort that one’s body uses to protect itself from colds and the flu. In the summer, a different set of genes gets expressed. Roughly 25 percent of all DNA that causes various behaviors and traits in people’s’ bodies change with the seasons.

 

When it gets colder, immune systems get weaker.

Key vitamins that fuel people’s immune system often lack in the colder months, such as Vitamin D, which comes from the sun. This makes people a target for viruses and other illnesses.

Simple vitamin supplements would help one’s immune system stay strong. Keeping up to date on vaccinations and getting better, longer sleep will help people stay healthy.

Another way people can deteriorate in the winter is mentally. For many, winter is the saddest season, as the shorter days give off less sunlight. It is a very common condition called ‘Seasonally Affected Depression’ (SAD).

This is a condition where people are exposed to less light daily. The reduced sunlight and shorter days can alter one’s moods, and their melatonin and serotonin levels (sleep and happy pheromones) are unbalanced, along with their biological clock being offset. These are the main reasons for SAD.

Setting goals and being social helps with being sad, along with regularly talking to someone, such as a parent, sibling, therapist, or friend is a good idea. Doctors’ treatments for SAD include light therapy and medication.

Doctor Denise Provencher has been a Pediatric Assistant – Certified (PAC), for 15 years. Provencher has seen many cases of illness in the winter, from the influenza to a common

cold. Personally, Dr. Provencher has some strong suggestions to help stay healthy when it is cold out.

“I am a strong believer in vaccines. When you get a vaccine, you’re building up immunity to an illness, so when you actually get sick from it, your body already knows how to handle it.” said Dr. Provencher. “There’s also over-the-counter medications that really help, like daily vitamin D supplements, and stress relief oils.”

With so many different ways to get sick in the winter, there are also many ways to keep healthy.

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The student news site of Northwest High School in Jackson, Michigan
Staying healthy throughout winter: Fighting back with proper nutrition