• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Scotland Connected

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Winter Wellness Through Nutrition, Exercise and Sleep

As daylight has become shorter and winter approaches, we’re feeling the chill in the air and may be tempted to stay indoors and comfort eat.

However, winter should be a time we eat healthy, continue to exercise (although getting outdoors on a cold and rainy day can be hard) and get a good night sleep to keep our bodies healthy and boost our immune system.


Nutritionist Lily Soutter says “Don’t fear the carbs as they help to generate the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin. So, a low-carb diet may result in fatigue and low mood. However, it’s important to pick your carbohydrates wisely. Enjoy nourishing fibre-rich carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, wholegrain couscous, whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and oats.”

Soutter also says it is important to support your “gut health” during this time, “The gut is connected to the brain via the vagus nerve and the two are constantly chattering to each other. If you’ve ever had that gut reaction or butterflies in your stomach, you will know the two are connected. As much as 90% of our ‘happy hormone’, serotonin, is located in the gut, and 10% in the brain. Our gut bacteria is thought to influence serotonin production and may play a role in signalling to the brain.”

She recommends the following:

  • Aim for 30g fibre per day – whole grains, beans, lentils, chickpeas, fruit, veg, nuts and seeds
  • Eat the rainbow and count the colours on your plate
  • Include fermented foods in your diet- yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi
  • A daily dose of Comvita Manuka Honey: A good Manuka honey contains prebiotic oligosaccharides that may support gut health. In case you were wondering, Oligisaccharides are non-digestible carbs that encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut and are important for maintaining gut health and well-functioning digestive system. Studies have also shown that oligosaccharides found in Manuka honey promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.  It’s also great for a cough!


According to a recent survey by Noom of 2,000 people, there is a drop in activity during winter due to the colder temperatures, according to almost three-quarters (72%) of those polled.

Noom Coach Brooke Marchand’s top tips to keep motivation throughout winter include:

  • Keep outdoor activities up. Increasing your Vitamin D intake is an effective way to manage low moods and energy levels impacted by winter weather. A great way to boost these levels is by getting outside as much as possible during the day to enjoy natural sunlight – you only need about 20-30 minutes. However, if you struggle to find time for walks during the shorter days, you can also get Vitamin D from foods such as salmon, mushrooms, and milk (including soy milk).
  • Explore new places. Make winter exercise interesting and exciting, by exploring new locations, new formats, and new people to work out alongside. Take some time to research new trails or routes you haven’t been on before for a change of scenery during a run or walk. Encourage yourself to try new types of exercises, whether that’s yoga, running, or weight training, to keep practises interesting.
  • Listen to summer music, all year round. We tend to curate summer-feeling, fun, and upbeat playlists to get us in the mood for summertime – but not the winter. Keep your feel-good music playing all year round, to ensure your motivation to get up and out is maintained through all seasons of the year.

The NHS recommends people do muscle-strengthening activities two days a week, in addition to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, like brisk walking.

Don’t feel like going out in the rain for a walk or to the gym?  Indoor exercises such as jump squats, push-ups, sit-up crunches and burpees are excellent ways to keep up fitness levels.  And if you don’t have room for dumbbells, filling up empty milk jugs with water are a great way for making your own.

Look for an online classes such as Goldster, a digital platform for healthy living and aging, where they offer everything to keep you in shape like yoga (regular and seated), Pilates even dance.  Keep your brain active as well with their creativity classes.


While you may not want to get out of the bed in the morning when the alarm goes off because of the cold, many people find it actually hard to get into bed in the first place during the winter,

Anna Campkin, a qualified life coach and NLP practitioner with Goldster, has provided some tips on getting a good night’s sleep, making sure your body is getting the proper rest you need to stay well.

  • Create a routine – This can be anything relaxing but aim for it to be the same every evening so that your body starts to get into a rhythm of knowing when you have your bath, or hot cocoa that it’s nearly time for bed. It takes the stress out of having to make decisions in the evening and also helps to wind you down.
  • Environment – Have a restful sleep environment. Keep the bedroom for sex and sleep where possible. If you need to work from this room, try and find a separate area, and not on the bed, we want to associate the bedroom with rest and sleep primarily.  we need a quiet space for sleeping, so investing in ear plugs, or even removing distractions can really help – if sleeping in shifts letting people know when you are available and when you are sleeping so as not to be interrupted. Additionally, keep away from your screens at night – the blue light can interrupt our melatonin production and confuse our brains thinking it isn’t actually bedtime – so avoid late night scrolling. Set a time to be off your phone by and make this at least 30 minutes before you want to sleep.
  • Wind down – Have a bath or a hot shower. Not only does the hot water soothe tension in our muscles; when we dry off and the water evaporates off our body our body temperature drops, mimicking the natural drop in temperature we experience before we sleep – thus making us sleepy!

By admin