It’s the time of year when the clocks go back an hour, the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop (winter is coming!).
The changing weather conditions affect more than your routine outdoor activities—It actually disrupts some of your body’s natural processes too.
You may notice changes in your sleep or allergies. The changing seasons can affect hormone production and it is perfectly normal to experience changes in our energy levels. Our bodies need time, changes in our daily routines and key nutrient support to help adjust to the new season.
Let’s look at some of the ways the changing season can affect our health and our energy.
As the seasons change it’s common for colds and flu to do the rounds. When exposed to sickness, our immune system has to work incredibly hard to keep us well. The follow-on effect of this is we use more nutrients to stay free of the flu. This means we have fewer nutrient stores for energy production.
Even if you manage to avoid getting sick this Autumn or Winter, you may still experience a dip in your energy. Here we have some tips to boost your immunity to help you maintain optimal health and energy.
The changing weather conditions can disrupt some of your body’s natural processes. More often than not, at this time of year, you may find yourself wanting to burrow under your covers! Yet a lot of us don’t.
We push through with our exercise regimes, waking up at 5.30 am for that boot camp forfeiting that extra hour of sleep. This may be negatively impacting your health more than you realise. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
There are several reasons your body wants more sleep in the cooler seasons. The first has to do with less light and our natural sleep hormone production. The lack of natural light in Autumn and Winter suppresses the release of melatonin; the hormone that tells our body it’s time to get ready for sleep. In summer when sunset is later, our melatonin signals come later. Going to bed later is our bodies natural response to light cues.
Because nightfall is earlier in winter, and there is less light overall, we are genuinely more tired earlier in the day. What are our first thoughts when we feel more tired though? Do we take it as a cue that we need more rest? Or, do we push through to fit in our social obligations or fitness regime? If your natural instinct is to keep charging through your routine the next time you feel low on energy, give yourself permission to sleep.
In our household, I like to use sunset and sunrise as my guide. I try to start my bedtime routine 2-3 hours after sunset. In winter it’s also dark for longer in the morning. If I’m going by nature’s clock, this means I can start my day slightly later. In summer months my body can handle a little less sleep and I go to bed at 10 pm and wake around 6 am with the natural light.
84% of New Zealanders’ are deficient in Vitamin D. The minimum requirement our bodies need, is actually at least 80 nmol of vitamin D daily! Vitamin D controls the DNA of your cells and helps control belly fat through the role of insulin. It plays a key role in the production of pancreatic enzymes and controls the level of calcium in the blood and bone.
In one study at Creighton University they found vitamin D, when combined with calcium, reduces cancer risk by 77%.
Vitamin D is also thought to help with mood and depression. This is especially important during Autumn and Winter when a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder - a type of depression, or depression-like symptoms - occurs in some individuals due to the change in seasons.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include low mood, energy, increased fatigue, decreased motivation and brain fog. They tend to begin around the same time each year in the lead up to winter.
It’s common knowledge that we absorb vitamin D from the sun through our skin. However few people realise that this can only happen in summer during the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. This is because the UVB sun rays are only effective in penetrating the atmosphere and our skin’s thickest layer when the sun is at its highest strength.
As the seasons change it’s important to get enough Vitamin D from food sources such as sardines, mackerel, egg yolks and organic pork lard. BePure One also contains Vitamin D to support your energy during this season. For a delicious way to enjoy Vitamin D-rich foods, try our Smoked Salmon Florentine recipe.
Our movement patterns change when it is dark, cold or raining and it can be harder to motivate yourself to get outside and exercise. This often means we are more sedentary in the cooler months.
This affects our energy because the benefits of movement extend far beyond weight loss and movement. You can read here about the benefits of exercise beyond looking good. If you struggle to include daily movement of any sort as the season's change, find a form of indoor exercise you like or you can even do a little home yoga or workout session.
Remember optimal health and energy is dependent on getting all the vitamins and minerals we need to support the body’s natural processes. As we can see, these natural hormonal interchanges and reactions are all placed under stress at the change of the season.
Prioritising rest, nutrient dense foods and seasonal produce are all really important factors for managing your energy levels as the season's change.
Supporting your body with Vitamin C, like our BePure Super Boost C and checking for nutrient deficiencies or taking the Adrenal Fatigue Questionnaire are important factors to consider - especially during the changing seasons.
As well as ensuring good nutrient density, there are several things you can do with your nutrition to support your immune system during Autumn. Try to include warming spices and herbs such as garlic and ginger which both have proven medicinal qualities.
Autumn is also a time to include slow cooked or steamed vegetables in your diet - as opposed to salads - to give your digestive system a break. My favourite way to eat seasonal produce is to saute them in bone broth.
Bone broth contains healing compounds such as glutamine, collagen, proline, glycine and gelatin. These are essential amino acids and trace minerals that work within the intestines to help seal the gut. They're easily absorbed, allowing them to provide cells with the direct building blocks needed to heal the gut lining.
Easily digestible and very soothing, bone broth is also great for bone health, your skin and also helps support the immune system. Here's my favourite bone broth recipe.
We are all unique. Our genetics, our environments, our lifestyles, our emotional wellbeing. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness or a single solution to your health concerns. If you want to learn more about your personal health story, Ben is touring to 30 cities around NZ presenting his new, 'What's Your Health Story?' seminar now. Learn more here.
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