Top Reasons and Tips to Warm Up!

We all know a few friends or family members who are always cold, no matter what time of year. You see them with their sweaters layered, scarves, wool socks and wool hats as soon as the weather shifts in August.  You may even be the person they depend on to warm their hands and feet, borrowing some of your body heat. Or perhaps it is you whose temperature is on the chillier side.

Medically, there are a few physiologic reasons why you could be feeling so much colder than those around you:

When there isn’t sufficient blood flow to areas of the body, those areas can start to feel colder than the rest of you. Typically, hands are feet tend to be most affected when there exists a circulatory condition. Blood vessels may become narrowed for a variety of reasons and this impedes the blood’s ability to reach and warm extremities. Culprits include cigarette smoking, a standard North American diet that contributes to arterial plaque buildup and arterial narrowing, a sedentary lifestyle as well as excess stress. Raynaud’s phenomenon is another condition affecting the small arteries of the hands where the arteries spasm, often in response to cold air or stress, and it may take minutes to hours for fingers to recover and warm up.

Another explanation for feeling cold all the time is a metabolic dysfunction, mainly a low functioning thyroid gland.  The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits behind the trachea, just below where a man’s Adam’s apple would be. Its job is to keep the body running at a pace that maintains temperature and energy levels throughout the day. When the thyroid becomes sluggish, symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty losing weight, hair loss, dry skin and a colder body temperature may arise. Thyroid conditions typically affect more women than men, and the thyroid is sensitive to fluctuations in hormones. During and after pregnancy, menopause or when discontinuing an oral contraceptive are all higher risk times when the thyroid gland’s function should be monitored.

Be sure to see your ND or MD to rule out a circulatory or metabolic condition if you are frequently feeling colder than others.

If it is just the winter season that is contributing to your chills, try the following natural approaches to warming up from the inside out!

 

Tips to Warm Up!

Warming herbs can be made into teas to sip during chillier seasons:

  • Chai teas that contain cinnamon, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns are very warming and increase circulation to the skin. They have the added bonus of stimulating digestive function.
  • My favourite winter beverage is warming, immune boosting and makes your home smell wonderful:

Ginger and Cinnamon Decoction

Boil a 1×1 inch cube of ginger (sliced) with a cinnamon stick in 500mL water over the stove for 10-15 minutes. Strain and drink.

 

Alternating hot and cold showers

  • The skin contains many blood vessels whose size can be affected by different temperatures of water. Hot water dilates the vessels and brings more blood and warmth to the skin’s surface. Quick cold blasts of water cause vessels to narrow. Longer immersion in cold water leads to reflex vasodilation.

Try this home hydrotherapy in the shower daily to stay warm all year round:

  1. Spend 2-3 minutes with very warm-hot (but not burning) tap water.
  2. Turn the faucet quickly to as cold as you can handle for 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat 3 times, always starting on warm and ending on cold.

Over time, you’ll notice that your body can tolerate colder water temperatures.

 

“Eat for Heat”

The value of adequate restful sleep and regular, nourishing meals cannot be overstated in terms of feeling your best. The process of regular digestion helps to maintain the body’s metabolic rate and warms you up from the inside out as an added benefit. Getting moving is also a great solution to a chilly morning. Bundle up, get outside and start your day off working up a sweat!