Stay healthy this winter


MAY 2014

Stay healthy this winter

The winter chill has definitely set in and so too unfortunately has the traditional bouts of colds and flu and respiratory complications which can cause havoc during the winter months.


Peter Jordan, Principal Officer of Fedhealth says living healthily does not have to be yet another chore, it is in fact much easier than you think.


Anti-oxidants are key, they are the multi-task fighters found in the body. “Anti-oxidants keep us young, fight off infection, repair any weak spots in the veins and arteries, supply elasticity where needed and protect us against carcinogens and ultimately cancers,” says Jordan. Foods rich in anti-oxidant foods, which appear to be inspired by our autumn colours, can be found in foods such as blueberries, fiery red tomatoes, red cabbage, avocados, papinos, red, green and yellow peppers, red wines, red kidney beans, green teas and rooibos teas.


“Wine lovers will also be pleased to know that certain wines, such as Merlot, have the high Resveratrol (the anti-oxidant that triggers the anti-aging gene) content. Dark and good quality chocolate is also rich in anti-oxidants and when eaten in frequent, small quantities can actually benefit health,” says Jordan.


One can also improve immunity during the winter months by adding extra garlic to soups and stews, drinking freshly squeezed orange juice or eating citrus fruits – these are high in Vitamin C and low in calories. “Vitamin A is another vital nutrient that can be used to boost immunity. Vitamin A assists in protecting the sinus membranes, making them more effective when fighting off viruses and bacteria, and can be found in orange coloured foods such as pumpkin, carrots, butternut, mangoes and papinos.”


Most people enjoy snacking during the colder months especially at night while watching television. Instead of snacking on fatty foods such as milk chocolate, biscuits or crisps, try snacking on healthy food options such as walnuts and almonds, steamed or air-popped popcorn, pretzels dipped in humus, lean biltong (no dried wors), dates, steamed or tinned unsweetened apples with custard or frozen yoghurt, dried figs (which are high in fibre), apple rings, apricots, dried or fresh coconut and low fat crackers with mozzarella or ricotta cheese.


Some other healthy tips:

  • The most nutritious part of broccoli is the stem, not the florets.
  • Mineral zinc is absolutely essential for memory and attention span.  We find zinc in red meat, oysters and wholegrain, but this may need to be supplemented with other nutrients to get the required dose. Zinc is also vital for healthy skin, healing and is often used for the treatment of acne.
  • Vitamin D is essential for bone strength as well as many other functions in the body. We find vitamin D in all tinned fish, mushrooms and from sunlight.  Even though we live in such a sunny country, we still might have low levels of vitamin D due to using lots of sun block or staying out of the sun.  It is therefore a good idea to take supplements to ensure you get enough of this vital nutrient.
  • Use probiotics to improve immunity, especially in children. The gastro-intestinal tract is our first line of defence and by improving the function of this tract through probiotics such as yoghurts (which often have good bacteria added to them), or supplements, one can boost immunity and make it more effective.
  • Drinking water with fresh ginger slices, or lemon wedges can also strengthen our bodies in the fight against disease or bacteria as even slight dehydration can make you more vulnerable to infection.


“Remember it’s not only important to eat healthily but also to exercise,” says Jordan, pointing out that Fedhealth has partnered with Sleekgeek to encourage its members and the rest of South Africa to start taking back their health. “Medical aids are traditionally known for dealing in sickness rather than health, however by supporting and encouraging people to take their well-being into their own hands, we are creating the best guardians of our own health – ourselves,” says Jordan.

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