In our Canadian winters, it is all too easy to give in to the tendency to hibernate all season. There are too many fun things to do with friends and family during this season to hibernate. With the right gear and knowledge low key activities such as cross-country skiing, Nordic pole walking, walking the dog and snowshoeing are all fantastic ways to get outside, spend time in nature and get the body moving. Also, check out local parks and ski resorts for rental rates on winter equipment and their different activities.


You should always bring something warm to drink. It could be as simple as hot water with some lemon wedges or green tea. You can also bring some broth-based soup if you are out all day. Stay clear of the temptation to bring coffee, hot chocolate etc. These choices are drinks that will help make your body less able to deal with stress and will decrease your immune system.


Our internal clocks are largely governed by light exposure, so at this time of year when we only have 9 hours of sunlight in December compared to 15 hours in June, crawling out of bed to do something is hard. Hibernation is what we tend to go more towards. Making sure you get outside is really important as well as making sure you get your daily dose of Omega-3, Vitamin D and Vitamin A.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. This vitamin has many health benefits associated with it. It was once believed that it was converted by our kidney, but new research shows that our bodies convert Vitamin D3 into calcitriol throughout the cells. Calcitriol is an important element in the life cycle of keeping our cells in the body healthy. There is no better source to help your body synthesize Vitamin D than the sun itself. In our northern climate it can be difficult to get out in the sun every single day for enough time. To ensure that you are getting RDA of 400 IU, make sure you eat wild, pacific salmon, sardines, skim milk and check your breakfast cereal as well for fortification. Some more common foods are lettuce, dates, cottage cheese and eggs. These are just a few foods that help with Vitamin D.

Vitamin D has many health benefits for our bodies. It helps to keep your bones and teeth strong by promoting calcium absorption and bone building in the body.

It helps to regulate immune system activity and prevents, prolonged inflammatory response in the body.

Helps prevent Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis and cancer.

Regulates the growth and activity of cells in the body. It can be linked to obesity, rickets and diabetes in children and certain types of cancers.

There are several forms of Vitamin D. Here are the different types of Vitamin D.

Vitamin D2 (ergocaciferol) which comes from food sources.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) which is synthesized in the skin.

Synthetic form is identified as Vitamin D5.

Vitamin D2 requires conversion by the liver and then by the kidney, before it becomes active. This is why people who have liver or kidney disorders are at a high risk for osetoporosis.

Vitamin D3 is usually received from the sun. Once your skin is exposed to the sun, a cholesterol compound in the skin is transformed into a precursor or Vitamin D3.


With a strong immune system you will have more energy and less likely to get sick plus recover quickly if you do. Three words that help with this are: NUTRITION, EXERCISE AND SLEEP.

Get your sleep. If we do not get to that deep sleep stage (REM) our bodies do not benefit from the rejuvenation effects that we all love. Make sure all lights are off in your bedroom, even small lights from electronics (alarm clocks, cell phones etc.).

Water, Water, Water, we highly underestimate just how crucial getting enough water is to our everyday function. It not only helps to lubricate our joints, moisturizes the skin, and helps prevent constipation, but is also key for maintaining a healthy body weight-it increases your metabolism and regulates appetite! Especially when you are feeling sick, extra water is crucial because it keeps your kidneys and liver filtering out toxins. So drink up!!!!


The minute you start negotiating with yourself to make certain food choices or get out to exercise, just always make the right/good choice.


During the winter months, there are many activities to try. Dance lessons, yoga, skiing, Nordic pole walking etc. I will guarantee you will tell yourself “why didn’t I do this before”.


If you fall off the rails, do not be afraid to hit the “Reset button”. You could give up easily on your goals, but instead just reset. During the winter months, if you need to reset, just press that button and start over. Eliminate the “have to be perfect” mentality. The true goal is to never give up.


Having someone that you are accountable to not only keeps you motivated, but keeps you on track with positive reinforcement when you feel like quitting.

The hardest time to stay motivated is now until spring. With all the stress of the holidays, cold weather etc, contribute to a lower immune system which results in “0” motivation to do anything.


Food can be the best tool to use for keeping your body from getting sick.

Foods that work best for the flu are garlic, Vitamin C foods, ginger, yogurt, horseradish and of course water.


Garlic contains allicin which is an active ingredient that has been proven to aid in the body for fighting infection and bacteria.

It also contains a volatile oil that is mostly excreted through the lungs, making it an excellent remedy for respiratory disorders such as bronchitis, mucus, influenza and whooping cough. It is also great in the management of asthma.

Just remember that if you have ulcers that the sulfur compounds in garlic will irritate them. So use them sparingly.

Vitamin C

This vitamin helps to build muscle tissue and boost the immunity. People think of just oranges have high Vitamin C content but broccoli and kiwifruit are just a few foods that are high in Vitamin C.


Ginger can help to ease the nasal congestion that goes with common colds and flu.
Here are foods that help with common cold and influenza—

Blackberry, blueberry, chili, chive, cinnamon, clove, cumin, garlic, ginger, lemon, live yogurt, onion, orange, peppercorns, rosemary, scallion, shellfish, thyme.

Eat plenty of fresh raw fruit and vegetables, especially those that are red, green, or yellow in colour.


This is a good source of healthy bacteria and helps boost your immune system. Please use organic yogurt as there will be less sugar and good quality bacteria in this yogurt. When you do get sick increase your intake of yogurt if you start taking antibiotics for the infection. When you are on antibiotics, they will kill both good and bad bacteria so doing yogurt helps to keep the good bacteria in your colon to help eliminate the bad bacteria/virus.


This helps ease throat and upper respiratory tract infection, plus will help clear out your sinuses. It has antibiotic properties and has also been shown specifically to destroy the flu virus and reduce the severity of flu infections.

Gwen Cottingham, Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Certified Life Coach Sign up for more nutritional solutions that are simple, fun and sustainable
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