5 Tips to Wintertime Health

In school and on the job, sickness has the tendency to spread like wildfire. Winter, regardless of the day-to-day weather, often brings about illnesses that can affect our productivity. Here are five ways to stay healthy through this season.

1. Eat well and drink plenty of water. It’s no secret that a healthy diet and hydration will help your immune system stay strong and fight the little bugs we encounter daily. Steamed and raw veggies, lean protein, and water, even when you aren’t thirsty, are fuel for a healthy immune system. Make sure you’re feeding your body these things, as they provide essential vitamins and nutrients needed to combat viruses.

2. Wash your hands. We encounter millions and billions of little microorganisms just from opening doors, pressing elevator buttons, paying for merchandise, etc. Soap and water, and hand sanitizer can keep the germ quantity down. One of my favorite products is a hand sanitizer moisturizer. I like it because it doesn’t dry your hands like the traditional alcohol-based gels. Those cracks in dry skin are another place for bacteria to reside.

3. Take a vitamin D supplement. If you are pregnant or trying to be, a solid prenatal vitamin (instead of a gummy vitamin) is recommended. Otherwise, nutritional research supports at least taking a vitamin D supplement since most of us are vitamin D deficient. I prefer solid vitamins and gel-caps over gummy vitamins. Gummies aren’t the best for your teeth, they have limited quantities of vitamins and many are not FDA regulated.

4. Get fresh air when you can. Indoor air pollution is real. The winter cold can discourage proper ventilation of our homes and offices. Mold and tobacco are serious contributors, however even household products, dust, and cooking fumes can add allergens and mild air pollutants that can lead to congestion and make you feel bad. Use your stove hood, bathroom vent, and periodically let a little fresh air into your home through windows or doors on milder weather days.

5. Get your vaccinations. Even Dr. Oz got a flu shot on the air. Vaccination against Influenza gives your body a blueprint to fight the flu virus if exposed. It’s like getting a hold of the other team’s playbook. Before they can even complete a play, you are there to intercept or block their progression. That’s IF you get the recommended vaccinations based on your age group and risk level, before the virus can take hold in your body your immune system kicks it out or at least fights it harder.

With work and the obligations of life, none of us can afford to get sick. Hopefully these tips will help you avoid being taken down by illness in the new year and all year round.

Wendy MD

Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in the city of Chicago. She is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and is always accepting new patients. Learn more at