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By Rongana Nath

Winter Weight Gain (And How to Avoid It)

Winter Weight Gain (And How to Avoid It)

Rongana Nath

Winter is officially here (along with the festive season) and you shouldn’t be surprised at what the weighing scale might tell you. However, though imminent in some people, weight gain in the winters may have nothing to do with the season but might occur due to some habits.

Eating Habits

  • Winter is also festive time and with that come sweet delights such as cakes, cookies and traditional sweets like laddoos, gajar ka halwa (the list is endless). Unfortunately, they are all full of sugar. Eating excess sugar is known to promote weight gain. Doctors advise eating lots of groundnuts but not its sweetened products which are high on fat content (groundnut is 40% fat only).
  • Exposure to less sunlight during winters is also known to play a negative role.  It was found that exposure to the blue light emitted by the sun can reduce the fat cells beneath the skin. Sunlight also stimulates the production of serotonin, a natural hormone that boosts a person’s mood. Lack of sunlight may affect the production of serotonin, making some people at risk of SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, a medical condition which affects a person’s mood and behaviour.  It is said when a person is sad or depressed, they crave more carbs that can increase the serotonin levels. If a person opts for unhealthy carbs like donuts and cookies, it makes them prone to weight gain.
  • The cold weather is also known to boost metabolism by burning more energy in an attempt to keep the body warmer. Increased metabolism means you feel hungrier and may overeat than actually needed.

Less Physical Activity

It’s common to skip morning exercising routine in winters and not doing physical activities has a lot to do with weight gain.

More Sleep

Most people love cuddling and feeling warm under a blanket when temperatures dip. Sleeping longer may not be a direct factor for weight gain but it definitely cuts down exercise time, which then contributes to the problem.


Fixing the Problem

To avoid weight gain, you first need to control food intake habits.

  • It is advised to eat protein which often gives a feeling of fullness, cutting the unnecessary food cravings. Add chicken, eggs, fish and beans to your diet.
  • Fibre-rich food like fruits and vegetables and whole grains stimulate leptin, a hormone that signals the brain when a person has eaten enough which then keeps overeating at bay.
  • Bad carbs such as white pasta, white bread, and sweets increase appetite which leads to overeating, so they should be avoided.
  • Simply running, walking, and cycling can help burn calories. It is best to exercise 6 days a week to avoid weight gain.



By Rongana Nath

Winter and Flu: The Connection

Winter and Flu: The Connection

Rongana Nath

Winter is setting in and you can already feel the sniffles and chill in the air. You have a cold and a stuffy nose and you’re hoping that it will pass. However, this could also be Flu – the commonly misunderstood disease. Often common cold and flu are assumed to be the same disease because they share similar symptoms such as a cough and a stuffy nose. But flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus, that also brings with it symptoms like a sudden onset of fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, body ache, cold sweat and exhaustion. There are four types of seasonal influenza viruses called Influenza A, B, C and D. Influenza A and B have subtypes of the virus as well. It generally spreads by droplets when a person who has flu sneezes, coughs and talks. Sometimes the virus can enter the body if a person touches their mouth, nose and eyes after touching anything, for example, an object which has the flu virus on the surface.

Does the Winter Bring Flu?

In many parts of the world, influenza is said to be more prevalent during winters. Since cases of flu increase when the temperature goes down, winter weather is named as the culprit. But, there are actually various factors associated with winter that triggers the influenza virus to spread more.

  • Firstly, the influenza virus is known to survive better and longer in the cold, dry weather rather than in warm, humid weather.
  • Lack of sunlight during winter can cause Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps in keeping the immune system strong which in turn fends off the virus.
  • The habit of staying indoors in the cold weather can make it easier to spread. A person who already has flu can pass it on to other people in the house.

Unlike cold, flu can cause severe illness and sometimes even can turn life-threatening. The National Centre for Disease Control reports that till the end of October 2018, India reported 10853 cases of seasonal influenza of which 817 patients died. The World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that influenza may occur throughout the year in tropical, warm and humid regions, like India. But it is more widespread during winters in temperate climates like in the US, where it is neither very hot nor very cold.

The virus is so contagious that an infected person can pass the flu even before the symptoms appear and also after a week after falling sick. Influenza can affect anyone but some people are more at risk of catching it faster. Children under 5 years, elderly, pregnant women, people with immunosuppressive conditions like HIV/AIDS and chronic medical conditions related to heart and liver are more susceptible.

Dealing With Flu

Since both cold and flu may look alike, it is important to visit a doctor. After a physical examination, the doctor may prescribe some antiviral medication. Generally, the symptoms of flu decrease with ample rest and fluid intake. In some people, the antiviral medicines can trigger side effects like vomiting and nausea. If a person has flu or is recovering, they should limit outside contact since the virus can spread to others.

If the symptoms of flu are mild, one can take over-the-counter medications, enough rest for the immune system to fight the infection and drink hot soups, fresh fruit juices and water to prevent dehydration.

According to doctors, yearly vaccination is the best prevention from the disease. With a doctor’s consultation, everyone over 6 months of age can get a flu shot to decrease their chances. Children under 6 months of age should not take this shot. The flu shots cause symptoms like a headache, muscle aches, fever, and an upset stomach. In India, there is no national policy for influenza immunization but soon the country will roll out a quadrivalent vaccine, based on recommendations from the World Health Organization.

The quadrivalent vaccine will contain four influenza virus strains will provide greater protection. Vaccination can not only decrease the occurrence of influenza but also bring down mortality rates.






By Rongana Nath

Hibernating This Winter? But Don’t Ditch Exercising!

Hibernating This Winter? But Don’t Ditch Exercising!

Rongana Nath

With the temperature going down, it’s always tempting to sleep for a few extra hours under the warmth of a blanket. No one will dispute that missing out on exercising comes more easily in the winters.  However, like the rest of year, winter calls for some kind of moderate activity. And there are several reasons why skipping it is not a good idea.

Provides More Energy

Exercising actually gives a person more energy, that helps keep away the morning winter blues. People who exercise regularly in the winters are known to have increased energy levels as compared to those who don’t do it. This is because physical activities increase the levels of endorphins, a group of hormones which are naturally produced to cope with pain and stress. It is released in the brain during many situations, one of which includes exercising. Endorphins induce exhilaration and relieve pain in the body.

Improves Mood

Physical activities boost the mood due to the increase in levels of hormones such as endorphins and serotonin. These hormones are known to boost positive feeling in the body. It also improves sleep quality making one feel fresh.

Boosts the Immune System

  • Physical activities can make white blood cells more active in detecting illnesses and neutralizing harmful bacteria and viruses. The primary function of white blood cells is to protect the body by fighting disease.
  • Too much stress can sometimes increase the chances of illness. Exercising can help decrease the production of stress hormones in the body.
  • Exercising can also get rid of bacteria in the lungs and airways, decreasing the risk of suffering from winter-related diseases like cold and flu.
  • Our body temperature rises during exercising. This increases the body’s ability to fight an infection as the temperature rise prevents bacteria from growing.

Prevents Winter Weight Gain

Winters are also when one tends to binge eat and sleep for extra hours. But these habits often mean a few extra kilos. Exercising is one of the easiest ways to shed the extra weight and stay fit.



Checklist Before Exercising!

Warm Up

It is advised to start with less strenuous exercises to make the body feel flexible, enhance blood circulation and oxygen delivery to the cells to prepare the body for a workout session.

Wear Sunscreen and Stay Hydrated

Like summer, one can get sunburned in winter too. The sun may feel warm but can harm you. That’s why one should always apply sunscreen. Similarly, it’s advisable to keep the body hydrated even though one may not feel thirsty as often. Sweating and the dryness in the winter wind can easily make a person dehydrated.

Dress in Layers

Exercising generates ample heat in the body which means one may not have to put on too many warm clothes. Dressing in layers will make it easier to remove some cover while exercising.

Wear Your Mask

The air quality is severe almost all the time so it’s best to wear a mask while exercising. But if the air quality feels bad, it is best to avoid exercising outdoors and workout session indoors.




Image source- Pixabay

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Winter Weight Gain (And How to Avoid It)
Winter and Flu: The Connection
Hibernating This Winter? But Don’t Ditch Exercising!