Winter Health MOT
As the winter months roll in, it’s a good time to take stock of your health. With the current pandemic, it could be argued that it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep your body and immune system as healthy as possible, though it’s harder still when stuck at home. Now’s the time to give yourself a mini winter health MOT, whatever your current health. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
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Run through your prescription and over the counter medication supply and see what you may want to order, purchase or have reviewed. Do you have any concerns or queries to raise with your doctor, specialist or pharmacist? Do you think any are not helpful or causing too many side-effects? Now’s a good time to speak to a professional for a medication review.
Magnesium has various functions within the body. It’s needed for energy and muscles, for nervous system regulation, forming proteins, and maintaining bones and genes. You can learn more about magnesium and the best food sources of magnesium here.
If you’re deficient or want to keep your levels topped up, especially if you don’t eat or absorb magnesium-rich foods, then you might want to consider supplementing. I’ve previously reviewed and recommended the BetterYou magnesium spray and Floradix liquid magnesium, which I continue to use myself daily.
Get Your Thyroid Checked
Thyroid problems can be notoriously challenging to diagnose and treat. Far far too many people struggle in the UK with getting the tests required for initial diagnosis, let alone suitable treatment.
In winter, as your body needs more resources to keep itself warm and well, you may find your thyroid needs a little more support. If you’re concerned, see your GP or book a telephone consultation.
If you’re not able to get the tests you need, you may want to consider home testing as an option. Check out my review of the Medichecks Thyroid testing for my thoughts. You can save 10% on your blood test order at Medichecks by using this link & the code INVISME10 at the checkout.
This is a key consideration for any winter health MOT. Even without grey days and the sun hibernating, many people can be deficient in Vitamin D to some degree. It’s a surprisingly important vitamin that many specialists recommend topping up daily with supplements, especially in the winter months. It’s vital for the healthy functioning of the body, from supporting your bones and muscles, to supporting your cardiovascular, respiratory and autoimmune systems.
Some studies are even suggesting a link between Vitamin D and coronavirus, indicating the potential for this so-called sunshine vitamin to have protective properties.
Unfortunately, Vitamin D is often overlooked and under-appreciated. It doesn’t typically get included in routine screenings, so you’ll need to ask for a specific Vit D blood test to get your levels checked.
You can learn more about why Vitamin D is important here, where you’ll also find supplement recommendations.
Milk and dairy products can be great sources of Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, protein and calcium to support our bones, cells and immune system. This won’t be possible for everyone, but if you can, try to boost your consumption of milk and dairy products, whether it’s a little more cheese (cheese toastie, anyone?), yoghurt or a simple glass of semi-skimmed milk each day.
If you’re finding hearing to be a struggle, it might be time to get a hearing test. If you’re experiencing tinnitus, soreness or discomfort, don’t put off speaking to your doctor.
If you think there’s a general wax build up, you could try a few drops of olive oil each day at home first, then see your GP if things don’t clear up in a week or two. In the UK, the NHS will typically no longer offer ear wax removal but if there’s a lot of pain, they could check for an infection. Otherwise, you could consider a professional clinic for safe wax removal.
Blood Pressure Check
It’s always a good idea to get your blood pressure checked. It’s often done routinely at your GP practice, especially if you’re taking or changing medications. You can also get a home blood pressure monitor, allowing you to keep a closer eye your BP. This may be particularly important in the winter months and if you’re shielding, where diets might change and you may be getting less exercise at home.
There’s good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. High bad cholesterol means you’ve got too much cholesterol, a fatty substance, in your blood. Over time, this can build up and block blood vessels, making you more susceptible to the likes of strokes and heart problems.
The only way to check your cholesterol is through having a blood specific test to check your cholesterol levels. If you’re unsure what your cholesterol is like, ask you doctor if they’ll check it for you.
An all-rounder blood test can pick up on a range of things. If it’s been a while, or you have any concerns about feeling off from your usual ‘baseline’, ask for a blood test for the basics, including B12.
Multi-vitamins can be a convenient way to supplement a balanced diet and give your body a little extra support in winter when it needs it. If you’re supplementing anything else in particular, such as vitamin C or magnesium, make sure you’re not doubling up or going over the recommended dose.
Vitamin C Goodness
Perk up your immune system with Vitamin C. It can be found in different foods and drinks, not just actual oranges. I’m a fan of Del Monte orange juice ice-lollies and Ribena drinks.
You can also get affordable supplements. I use Nature’s Aid Vitamin C chewables in the UK. They’re suitable for vegans, sugar free, taste delicious and have a decent 500mg strength. There are various Vitamin C supplements on Amazon and elsewhere of different strengths and types to suits all needs.
A colourful diet is always recommended, but when it’s colder or we’re exhausted, it’s easy to fall into not eating well or reaching for comfort foods more often. To keep the chill off, try warming meals with winter veggies like swede, carrots and parsnips.
For snacks and other meals, don’t forget that fruit juice drinks and smoothies can count towards one a day (check the packaging), as can tinned fruit and frozen vegetables.
Mind The Step
For those that are mobile and able to walk, how many steps are you getting? Fitness trackers can help you monitor how close you are to the recommended 10,000 steps each day while keeping you motivated.
However, many people, especially in the chronic illness/pain community or during the pandemic, are not going to get that many steps in, at least not consistently. Instead, just be mindful of needing to stretch your legs more often.
If you’re like me, you might be finding yourself constantly cleaning every product that comes into the home, going through all of your shopping with an antibacterial wipe before putting it away, then going around the house with an antibacterial spray each day to keep things Covid-free. That counts as movement. General cleaning and tidying around the house can count as exercise, too.
Get in a few extra steps or general movement here and there, because every little helps.
It’s a personal decision, but the general advice is to get a flu vaccine if you’re eligible or if you feel you could benefit from it. Now’s the time to get one booked. In the UK, having certain conditions may mean you’re eligible for a free jab, otherwise it’ll be a small fee. Boots charge £13.99 for a flu jab, and you can book online. Speak to your GP practice or local pharmacy about getting a vaccination, and ask what PPE and Covid precautions they have in place if you’re concerned about safety.
How do you support your winter health? Do you need book any check-ups and tests, or restock your supplements for the upcoming months?
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