Winter can take a toll on your skin. But it can also dry out your eyes and nasal passages, making you much more prone to picking up a cold or the flu.
So, today, let’s talk about how you can keep these important parts of your body hydrated and in top condition to fend off winter’s worst viruses and bacterial infections.
Here are my simple, effective suggestions that you can start today, no matter where you are…
In the house:
Cranking up the heat inside makes it feel nice and cozy, but it also bakes out all the humidity from the air.
Try to keep the house thermostat at a reasonable level, so the air won’t dry out as quickly. (In New England, we kept occupied rooms at 64 degrees and unoccupied rooms at 52 degrees; and always kept sweaters handy.) You can also use a humidifier to put moisture back into the air. Essential oil diffusers can also help soothe your nasal passages. (I give the full background on essential oils in the upcoming March issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures. Not a subscriber? Simply click here to start.)
If you prefer to use a space heater, put it in a spot where the heated air isn’t blowing directly in your face.
As for the fireplace or pellet stove, be aware of how much time you spend sitting next to it. I’d say limit yourself to between 30 and 45 minutes before moving a bit further away.
In the car:
Make sure to choose the car climate controls to route warm air through the lower vents. Then, the heated air will naturally rise throughout the car’s interior. Your cabin will get nice and cozy. But it’ll keep the air from blowing directly into your face, which would otherwise dry out your eyes and nasal passages.
Outside, the cold air doesn’t hold water vapor, so humidity drops dramatically, which can dry out your nasal passages and eyes.
To keep nasal passages moist and warm, wear a scarf. You can also dab a little petroleum jelly on the insides of your nostrils before heading out into the cold.
I also recommend wearing sunglasses that block 99 percent of UVA and UVB, two bands of UV light — even if it’s a dreary, overcast winter day. Also, wear a cap or hat with a wide brim or visor.
These steps will keep bright sunlight reflecting off snow from harming your eyes. They’ll also help shelter your face and eyes from the cold air, wind, snow, or ice particles.
Reconsider your eyewear
Aside from wearing sunglasses when you’re outdoors, you may want to re-consider your eyewear indoors as well.
I generally recommend against wearing contact lenses. For one, they dry out your eyes — especially in the winter. Second, inserting contacts can easily contaminate your eyes with cold or flu microbes.
So, if you must wear contacts, make sure you always thoroughly wash your hands with warm soap and water before putting them in or taking them out. Also, make sure to keep them clean to lower the risk of infection, irritation, and dryness.
You can also opt for daily, disposable contacts. They seem rather wasteful to me, but studies show daily, disposable contacts have a lower risk of infection since you use a new set every day.
Also, when you come down with a cold or the flu, your eyes will typically tear up more to flush out the infection. In this case, I highly recommend switching to glasses when combatting a virus to give your eyes a rest, to monitor symptoms, and to help your body eliminate the infection more efficiently.
Stay hydrated on a cellular level
Dehydration is a major problem in the winter. And your eyes and nasal passages will certainly feel the effects.
So make a point to drink plenty of fluids, hot or cold. I recommend keeping hydrated at a cellular level with South African rooibos (aspal), which is available as a dry, powdered ingredient together with blueberry, baobab, and rose hips. You can find this blend in my delicious CoreForce BioBlend formula. For more information, click here. For single ingredient, powdered, water-soluble rooibos extract, check out www.red-joe.com.
You can also drink other herbal teas or coffee, which, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t cause dehydration. I always recommend three to four cups of coffee a day for all the natural health benefits. (To read more about the wide-reaching benefits of coffee, simply use the top right search bar on www.DrMicozzi.com.)
To keep your eyes moist, I suggest using eye drops. Essentially a physiologic saline (salt) solution does the job, so your eyes can do the rest. Otherwise, don’t put anything in your eyes — including contact lenses if you can avoid it.
To keep nasal passages moist, I recommend using two to three squirts of a warm saline spray up each nostril every morning and right before bed. You can also cleanse out the nasal passages with a nasal irrigation device, such as a neti pot. All of these can be found at your local pharmacy or online.
Choose supplements to support eye health
Hopefully, you’re already taking 10,000 IU daily of vitamin D year-round to support your immune system and your overall health.
Of course, taking vitamin D during the winter is especially important because in most parts of the country the sun isn’t high enough in the sky to naturally activate your skin’s production of it.
Plus, for an added benefit, you can take an oral liquid vitamin D blend with the potent marine carotenoid astaxanthin, which has potent benefits for eye health.
To discover the other ways winter weather can affect your whole-body health, read the current February issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.