What is the real reason Canadian winters feel so cold?
a) snow b) wind c) temperature
2. Easy Question:
Sugar weakens your immune system.
a) True b) False
3. More Difficult:
Winter Blues or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) are caused by
a) lack of sun in winter b) vitamin D deficiency c) both
4. More Difficult:
Cold and flu are
a) preventable b) not preventable
All Canadians agree to get flu shots when their doctor tells them to.
a) True – flu shots are safe and effective b) False – some people are worried about mercury in the vaccines
Oregano oil can prevent cold and flu by keeping your immune system strong.
a) True b) False
Check your answers below.
Many immigrants feel sad or depressed in winter in Canada because there’s very little sun. However, even on sunny days, some immigrants don’t want to go out because of the cold. To feel comfortable outside and to feel happy during the winter season, new immigrants need to learn some new skills: how to dress properly in winter, how to prevent and treat colds, how to deal with winter vitamin D deficiency, etc.
1. Dress in Layers
The best way to stay warm is to dress in layers. When you feel cold, you are uncomfortable, and when you feel uncomfortable for a long time, you feel unhappy, sad or even depressed. The reason why Canadian winters feel so cold is not the temperature – it’s the wind! Do you know what ‘wind chill’ is? It can be -18 C outside but, because of the wind, it will feel like -25 C. That ‘feels like’ or ‘feeling’ is the windchill.
The best way of dealing with Canadian winter is to invest in some good winter clothes. Notice the word ‘invest’. Good quality winter clothing is an investment in your health. Be prepared and put some money aside as your ‘winter clothes budget’ when you are coming to Canada. Do not buy a cheap winter jacket! For adults in the family, you spend money once and you are set for the next 5-7 years. For children who are still growing, it’s going to be a yearly expense. If you don’t have good winter clothes, the winter will be very painful! It’s better to spend time and money than suffer every day in winter. Avoid that pain!
The most important layer is the closest to your body. It’s better to buy thermal underwear (top and bottom). It should fit really tightly (very close to your body, like hugging it, so that there’s no space between the fabric and your body). The second layer should be warm – like a sweater that is made of natural wool. Or you could visit some sport stores – they sell clothing especially engineered for cold temperatures. The third layer is a long and thick winter jacket. When buying a winter jacket, ask one question: “What temperature is this jacket good for? I need something for minus 15 or minus 20.” To see the complete list of winter clothing items, follow the link after this article.
Winter – snow, wind, snowstorm – is not a reason to miss work in Canada. You must check the weather forecast in advance (the day before) and know what weather is coming. If tomorrow is a snowstorm, you must leave your home earlier – traffic will be slow! – and still arrive to work on time that day. Weather in Canada, rain or snow, is NOT an acceptable reason to be late for work.
2. Vitamin D Every Day
If you are an immigrant from a country where it is sunny almost every day and there is no winter like in Canada, your body is used to getting vitamin D from the sun every day. When the sun touches your face, hands, arms, vitamin D is produced in your body. 90% of vitamin D comes from the sun.
Many immigrants develop serious health problems after several years in Canada because they don’t know about vitamin D. You need about one thousand milligrams a day. Vitamin D makes your immune system stronger, fights against cancer and helps maintain good mental health (make you feel happier).
Winter is a vitamin D deficiency time. Because of the absence of sun, more than half Canadians don’t get enough vitamin D (which is produced when the rays of sun touch your skin) which contributes to the development of a host of diseases. The so called ‘Winter Blues’ or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is caused by the vitamin D deficiency and the decrease physical activity.
Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:
Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
Having low energy
Having problems with sleeping
Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Having difficulty concentrating
Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
The best way to take vitamin D is in liquid form (drops). To learn which groups of immigrants are especially at risk for vitamin D deficiency, click on the link after this article.
3. Cold and Flu Season
Winter is also called the ‘Cold and Flu Season’. However, preventing cold and flu is easy! One thing you can do is take a drop of oregano oil every day and you might never catch another cold again. Follow the link below to learn more.
Washing your hands is also very important because 80% of all viruses are spread this way: first you touch something in a public place (for example on the bus) and then you touch your mouth or eyes. This is how a virus gets inside your body and, if you have a weak immune system, makes you sick. Wash your hands with regular soap – not antibacterial!
Washing hands protects you better than 10 flu shots. Your doctor will most likely push you to get a flu shot – this is your choice, so you can choose to say “No, thank you.” Many people who get flu shot still get sick. That’s because flu shot only protects you from one kind of viruses called ‘influenza’. Not all flu are influenza. Besides, many people choose not to get a flu shot because mercury is used in it as a preservative. If you want to learn more, you could watch this video HERE.
Hand sanitizers (gel, 70% alcohol) should only be used when water and soap are not available. Hand sanitizers kill the good and the bad bacteria on your hands. Antibacterial soaps also kill the good and the bad bacteria. You need the good bacteria on your hands – it is part of your immune system. So, use regular soap.
4. Move your Body
Most immigrants are afraid to go out in the cold for a walk and so they stay home. The problem with staying home: your blood doesn’t circulate well and your brain is not getting enough oxygen.
To help your blood circulate, you need to exercise. A swimming pool, a gym or a community center classes, or even exercise at home are all good choices. When you sit for a long time and your blood doesn’t circulate, you will feel very sad. Exercise increases serotonin levels in your brain and serotonin makes you feel happy.
On any day that is not too cold, try to go outside – even for 10-15 minutes! You need fresh air – your brain needs oxygen. Lack of oxygen to the brain gives you headaches. It also affects your memory and mood (you feel unhappy).
Many immigrants put heaters in their homes to feel warmer. Central heating and added oil heaters dry out the air in your room (if you or your children get nose bleeds, get rid of the oil heater). You might need a humidifier too. Make sure you open the window to let the fresh air in.
5. Not so Sweet
When sugar enters your blood, you get ‘sugar rush’ or ‘sugar high’. It feels so good. But your body produces insulin – a hormone that controls how much sugar is in your blood. Insulin quickly removes the sugar from your blood (it is dangerous to have high blood sugar) and it is changed into fat. Then suddenly you feel sad again. If you eat more sugar, the story will repeat again. So, you go up and down, up and down – happy and sad, happy and sad. If you push and abuse your body like this for a long time, your body will soon not be able to produce insulin and you could get diabetes.
Sugar has the ability to suppress your immune system. If you want to stay healthy in winter, it’s a good idea to cut down on your sugar intake. The truth is, you don’t catch a cold or flu – you earn it. Take actions to strengthen your immune system and you will never have to deal with another cold or flu!