Had enough of brutally cold winter weather and an equally unforgiving flu season? You're not alone. Though winter brings many fun holidays and delicious feasts, it can be extremely difficult for many of us to "bounce back" after we put away our Christmas trees and our New Year's kazoos. A long January can definitely bring the winter blues.
Enter functional and integrative medicine pioneer Frank Lipman, MD, who believes that health means more than simply the absence of disease. Practicing what he calls "good medicine" — a blend of knowledge we've gained from science and ancient healing traditions — Dr. Lipman wants to teach his patients to get healthy and inspire them to stay healthy, no matter what time of year it is.
Below, Lipman shares simple winter health tips for how you can bounce back before the season even ends. Important note: Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any new supplements.
1. Boost immunity with vitamin D.
Most people know that sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D for your skin. But we don't stop needing the "sunshine vitamin" on days when it's gloomy, cloudy, or snowy outside. "Vitamin D is important during the winter months because we don't have access to adequate sun exposure," Lipman says. He explains that a vitamin D supplement can help support immune function and plays a large role in disease prevention. Sounds helpful, especially with so much sickness going around.
2. Aid digestion with probiotics.
According to Lipman, a probiotic plays an essential role for us all year long, considering it continually re-introduces our gut to beneficial bacteria. We know the word "bacteria" gets a bad rap on its own, but this specific bacteria helps us out with proper digestion, immune function, balancing moods, and general health and wellness. No wonder it’s commonly known as "good" or "friendly" bacteria!
3. Stay sharp with fish oil or krill oil.
Lipman says good quality fish oil or krill oil is helpful for supporting immune function as well as brain function. On top of those important boosts, there's an added bonus during the winter months: Fish and krill oils can help relieve or even prevent dry skin — one of the biggest winter blues.
4. Step away from inflammatory foods.
Lipman maintains that diet is one of the biggest factors when it comes to health and wellness. "Although I believe there is no one right diet for everyone, I always recommend avoiding processed foods and sugars as they have an inflammatory effect on the body," he says. We'll admit that fast food or takeout might be tempting on nights when we're too tired to cook, but choosing anti-inflammatory foods instead is totally worth making that extra effort for our health.
5. Catch up on those zzzs.
Lipman recommends getting an adequate amount of sleep at night to support wellness. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 7 or more hours of sleep per night for adults. So if you're not hitting at least the 7-hour mark, it's worthwhile to try better sleeping habits or talking to your doctor if the situation does not improve.
6. Get moving.
It's also important to make time for adequate movement throughout the day, according to Lipman. It's understandable that you may not want to step outside if it's really cold, but there are plenty of indoor exercises you can do. Hitting the gym isn't your thing? We recently found out there are a few ways to get a workout in without even trying — get creative!
7. Stress less.
We all know the winter can be a hectic time, even after the holidays are over. Lipman recommends using activities such as meditation, yoga, or mindfulness practices to aid with stress management.
Dr. Frank Lipman, the founder of Be Well and the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, is a functional and integrative medicine pioneer and the author of many New York Times-bestselling books, including Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again ($7.92, Amazon) and The New Health Rules ($11.98, Amazon). His fifth book, How to Be Well ($27.72, Amazon), will be out April 3.