Enduring the Winter
If you’ve ever felt weary during the winter months, you are certainly not alone. With the long nights and chilly temperatures of winter, many experience feelings of sadness and fatigue.
Feeling a bit gloomy is normal during colder months, but there are many ways to combat the gloom, including socializing, exercising, and eating right, according to Jose Pando, MD, FACP, rheumatologist and soon-to-be fellowship-trained integrative health practitioner. He founded both Delaware Arthritis and Lewes Wellness Center with his wife, Catherine Pando, RN.
“Those who feel part of a community—whether a neighborhood or a religious community—find they are happier and more content because they have a purpose in life. In many cultures, including my native culture in Peru, there is a strong connection between our mental health and the company we keep,” says Dr. Pando.
As for the food we eat, Dr. Pando points out that more and more researchers are studying the connection between our gut and our overall wellbeing. “Inflammation in our bodies causes pain. By being conscious of what we eat and how we move, we can limit inflammation,” says Dr. Pando. Look for local, seasonal produce, choose organic when you can, and stay away from processed food and frozen meals. Doing so will help you stay pain-free, active, and energized all winter long.
To start, try a delicious homemade soup with turmeric, an anti-inflammatory spice (see opposite page). The Moroccan vegetable soup recipe provided by Chef Miguel Cuevas, of Beebe’s Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, is a great place to start. For a downloadable recipe card to share with your friends, visit www.beebehealthcare.org/healthy-seniors.
Last, to avoid falling ill this winter, the Pandos encourage you to take care of your dental health. Make sure to have regular cleanings, as—perhaps surprisingly—a clean mouth is the first defense against immune system flare-ups and can also protect your heart health.
Delaware Arthritis and Lewes Wellness Center offer free or low-cost yoga programs and cooking demonstrations from local nutrition experts. Find a class that suits you and enjoy meeting others this winter.
Immune Boost for Cancer Patients
To keep your immune system at peak performance, it’s important to manage your stress levels. And, if you are living with cancer, the daily stress of which can further harm your immune system, you can counteract this by finding ways to lower stress that work for you. Dietitian Kim Westcott agrees.
Westcott suggests yoga, meditation, massages, and relaxing hobbies. Find what works for you!
“When the colder weather causes a sluggish immune response, patients going through cancer treatment are even more at risk, since their immune systems are already compromised,” Westcott says.
Eating the right foods can also make a big difference. For starters, you can reduce inflammation by avoiding added sugars and processed carbohydrates. It’s important to eat enough, too. “While going through treatment, patients might find themselves lacking an appetite, but it is important to continue to eat as well as possible,” she said.