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Your Health: Sturdy Through a West-Coast Winter

The shorter, gloomier, overcast days, fallen leaves and falling temperatures have marked the end of a summer long gone and the beginning of our Victoria winter.  For many, this also means participation in ‘cold and flu’ season.  No, our fair Peninsula is not immune to this yearly plague, despite our relatively mild winters.  While we consider winter green fees at the local golf course and 4 inches of snow is considered an anomaly, our Canadian cohorts in Winnipeg have snowblowers at the ready for the several feet of snow they can expect.

Why then are we still afflicted given our advantageous climate?

Getting sick this time of year has as much to do with the state of your immune system as it does WHAT you get exposed to


While it’s true that more people tend to harbour these common bugs during this time of year, the actual cause of sickness and symptoms lies deeper.  Just consider your co-worker in the cubicle next to you who never takes a sick day while just next door you seem to be at the mercy of every wave of infirmity being spread around.  Is your neighbour just ‘lucky’?  Likely not.  The unfortunate (and somewhat gross) fact is that they’re sharing the same air that you breathe out and vice versa.  By extension, they’re also being exposed to the SAME airborne particles (i.e. cold and flu germs) yet are not showing symptoms.  That’s because getting sick has as much to do with the state your immune system as it does to WHAT you get exposed to.

The cause is therefore more directly related to poor lifestyle habits around this year, despite our claim as one of Canada’s healthiest locales.  A typical winter evening on the peninsula does not revolve around an evening stroll, run, or landscaping session filled with sunshine and fresh air as it might in July.  More likely it involves sitting inside on the couch with some variation of spiked eggnog or a sugary, high-carbohydrate snack in hand while enjoying the new season of your favourite crime drama.  In addition is the inevitable lack of sunshine (and therefore Vitamin D necessary to support immune function), overeating of eating sugary, rich, high fat foods (which essentially stun immune function), decreased physical activity, and the stress of holiday planning, hosting, and gift-buying.

When combined it’s enough physical, mental, and chemical stress to make even the stoutest immune system want to go into hibernation- and it will if it must!

Poor diet, less exercise and sunlight, and holiday-related stress actually impairs the immune system during the holidays


The key is therefore lifestyle modification during this season.  Think to yourself what you’re doing differently in this season compared to the spring/summer and try to emulate your spring/summer routine as much as possible while supplementing your diet with Vitamin D3, B complex, and multivitamins.  Also consider seeing your chiropractor during this season to help remove physical stress and nerve irritation from the body so that you can function to your highest ability during this season and fight the cold and flu bug when you need to most.

Finally, remember that heaping unnecessary stress upon yourself is completely counter to the very reason for the holidays- a season meant for peaceful reflection and quality time with the ones you love. So make time to enjoy it, because if you don’t take time to slow down the cold or flu bug just might do it for you!


2 Join the Conversation

  1. Sheri Kasnik says
    Dec 10, 2011 at 3:37 AM

    Thanks very much Dr. Mark for the info. Nice way to keep in touch with your patients!

  2. Dr. Remi Champagne says
    Nov 09, 2012 at 1:47 AM

    Great article Dr. Mark. As a chiropractor I notice that all the time that my patients who get adjusted regularly as part of their healthy lifestyle fair much better during this season.

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