How to keep healthy in winter thanks to Marbella
By Salma Hwedi on
With winter's arrival, warm sweaters, holiday pyjamas, cashmere scarves, thermal clothing and high socks come out. But winter is not only about warm clothes and hot chocolates. It's also the season of runny noses and bouts of cough, sedentary living and mood swings. To stay safe and healthy in winter, we must holistically take the best care of ourselves. We have created this guide full of tips on keeping your health in check this winter in Marbella.
Winter is the season when people care for their immune systems. That is why eating nourishing foods is one of the keys to staying healthy in winter. A well-balanced diet includes lean meats, fish, poultry, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. We know the Christmas holidays are coming up, and eating sweet foods is inevitable. But in moderation, you can ensure your body gets what it needs and treats. Eating warm meals and drinking hot beverages are also essential during winter, as not only does it feel good, but it does good too.
It's easy to have a balanced diet and eat healthy in Marbella, as there is plenty of fresh and seasonal produce to create healthy Mediterranean recipes and plenty of organic shops and great healthy restaurants are available to eat all year round. And, many locals have adopted new lifestyle habits to be healthier, which in turn, has had a positive influence on the rest of the population in Marbella.
Vitamins and minerals
Taking vitamins and minerals is essential to keeping yourself nice and healthy during the coldest time of the year. Take it from us when we say that the Mediterranean diet, which has long been recognised worldwide for its health benefits and grand source of vitamins and minerals, along with Marbella's 320 days of sun and warm temperatures will help you top up your vitamins naturally during the winter period.
Vitamin C is one of the essential vitamins recommended all year, specifically in winter. As your body does not produce vitamin C, essential for immune health, one must monitor their vitamin C levels and intake. Besides your typical supplements, you can monitor your vitamin C intake by eating foods rich in vitamin C. These include oranges, grapefruits, kiwis, tomatoes and strawberries. As for vegetables, you can find vitamin C in broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and white potatoes. Marbella is home to many orange trees, and many people plant orange trees in their gardens, and this is an excellent way for locals to top up their Vitamin C intake.
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and helps control inflammation. Vitamin D is what our body can create from direct sunlight exposure. But our body needs more sunlight between October and March to produce it autonomously. That is why many push for regular vitamin D intake in winter. Sources of vitamin D include cereals, dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese, eggs and fish. However, a diet rich in vitamin D is not enough for many, so supplements are recommended daily. Living in Marbella, one is almost always exposed to the sun, so Vitamin D deficiency is rare in Marbella.
Zinc and iron usually go hand in hand with vitamins C & D and are recommended for immune health. Iron and zinc are the most common biological nutritional deficiencies on a global scale. Aside from immune health during cold and flu season, iron is an essential mineral that helps prevent fatigue and aids in energy production. Iron-rich foods include red meats, beans, dried fruit and nuts, to name a few. Zinc is an antioxidant that helps your immune system and metabolism function usually. Zinc-rich produce includes cereals, red meat and poultry.
Winter can also affect your skin, drying it out and causing it to flake. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the cell membranes and helps maintain the skin's softness. Vitamin E can be sourced from sunflower, soybean oil, spinach, pumpkin, and red bell peppers. Make sure to keep your skin moisturised this winter by using appropriate skincare products and adding avocado or almond oil to your creams.
You should always drink plenty of water as it helps rid your body of toxins, carry nutrients to the rest of your body and balances body fluids. After all, the human body is 60% water. A lack of hydration can be severe in winter and negatively affect your immune system and general well-being. It is said that men should drink 8-10 glasses of water daily, and women should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Warm beverages are also vital to keeping warm and boosting your immune system. Hot mint, lemon and ginger teas always do the trick when feeling run down. Herbal and fruit infusions are popular for many, or maybe even some hot chocolate for children. Warm broths and soups also count towards your fluid intake and provide many essential nutrients.
Herbal and fruit infusions are very popular in Marbella; you can have them in every restaurant and home, as many herbal tea shops have opened their doors to the Marbella public. Warm broths and soups also count towards your fluid intake and provide many essential nutrients, and are a staple in many traditional Spanish dishes you can enjoy in many Marbella restaurants.
Avoid winter stress
Winter can be a hectic and stressful time of year for many. You should always put yourself first, so be sure to practice stress-relieving activities such as yoga, pilates, meditation or simple breathing exercises. It is important to remember that stress is bad for your body, and considering winter is a time of year when your immune health is generally more susceptible to decrease, stress-free is extremely important. However, the Marbella lifestyle that one adopts when living here is stress-free. With Marbella being a very social town and its residents being very friendly and open, it allows one to feel more at ease and relaxed. Because those around you affect your mood on a regular. And, with everyone in Marbella being extremely social, happy and inviting, one immediately feels less stressed when in Marbella.
Even if you are not someone with whom winter presents particular problems like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a bright home cheers people up and decreases stress. Decorating your home, listening to music, watching Christmas films or even a good book, do what makes you happy. Others find comfort in helping others during winter. Those who help those in need find it a humbling and relieving experience. Not only do you help yourself feel better, but you are helping someone who needs it. One way to deal with winter stress is to plan a trip. If you are not fortunate to live somewhere warm like Marbella, consider buying a ticket to visit.
As the saying goes: "the weather is what you are wearing, and the climate is what you have in your closet". Dressing adequately can make or break your immune system. Just because it is sunny does not mean you have to wear a t-shirt and shorts when it's 10ºC. Wearing clothing that holds body heat and does not absorb atmospheric moisture is the way to go this winter. Keeping your vitals covered is also the trick, such as covering your head, neck, and chest will avoid much discomfort, and your body will thank you. Layering is also an appropriate option during winter, something more common in countries like the United Kingdom. In Marbella's case, we are lucky to enjoy relatively warmer temperatures than other countries in Winter, but we still recommend you at least wear a warm jumper or a big scarf to cover your neck.
Continue to exercise
Exercise does wonders for the body and is also a clever way to keep your blood pumping and feeling warm. Physical activity is always recommended by doctors in winter, as it helps combat fatigue and has even been proven to boost your immune system. Which, in turn, improves your body's defence against seasonal colds and flu. They say that at least 150 minutes of exercise a week is key to keeping healthy in winter.
Marbella is home to some of the best gyms across Spain. Gyms like Real Padel Club Marbella or The iO are open all year round and invite people to join their establishment whenever they please. Marbella is almost always sunny, giving people little excuse to go outside and go for a walk or a jog. The paseo marítimo that runs across the Marbella coast is equipped with outdoor gym equipment that can be accessed and used for free, not to mention that the paseo is built for people to enjoy long strolls of a challenging run. Tennis clubs and golf courses are also accessible all year round, for those who prefer to practice a sport. Essentially, Marbella has been designed to ensure you get your exercise all year round.
With the circulation of viruses such as the common cold, RSV, flu and now COVID-19 during winter - as we expect every year - it is essential to be vigilant about your self-hygiene and those around you. You can protect yourself and those around you by adopting regular hygiene habits, such as:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds.
- Frequently sanitise surfaces and objects like mobile phones - you use daily.
- Avoid sharing utensils, cups and bottles.
- Wear a surgical or FFP2 mask in crowded indoor areas, hospitals and public transport.
- Stay home to avoid spreading your cold or flu if you are not feeling well.
Marbella still adopts the appropriate safety measures against viruses, by making hand sanitiser accessible from practically everywhere and having 24h pharmacies across the city for whoever needs them.
Get lots of sleep
Everyone knows that sleep is the gift of nature for recovering and maintaining general physical and mental health. Sleep benefits your immune system, helps reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, and is when your body burns the most calories. Getting adequate sleep daily allows your body to eliminate its built-up fatigue. 7 to 9 hours of sleep are recommended; waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day is also key to maintaining a healthy sleeping schedule. Moreover, not using technology such as televisions or mobile phones 1 hour before bed has improved many sleeping patterns. And, if you are in Spain, make the most out of the Siesta culture, which entails sleeping for several hours between 14:00-17:00, and it is a widespread habit practised by many in Marbella.
Get your regular check-ups
Winter is when you should keep an eye out for your health, so getting regular health check-ups at your GP is highly recommended. Cold weather can trigger conditions such as asthma, recurring sore throats, chesty coughs, and painful joints. Hospitals and medical centres can get very busy this time of year, so be sure to book your appointments plenty of time in advance. And, from the most minimal symptom, you should get a check-up. Now is the best time to think about winter health prevention. If you want to avoid being sick and taking antibiotics, follow the tips mentioned above to have a safe and healthy winter.
Marbella is hugely accommodating to foreign residents or tourists that feel unwell during their trip and has many private and public health clinics to visit. If you want to learn more about medical care in Marbella, you can read our blog.
We must confess that being in Marbella during winter is a blessing. We are lucky to have mild winter weather conditions that allow us to spend time outdoors and soak in the sun, which helps our immunity and mental health. But we should still consider our health and take care of ourselves. We are all human, after all, and are all susceptible to getting ill during winter. But that does not mean we cannot prevent it! So, from Marbella, the Drumelia Team wishes you a happy and healthy winter!
Salma Hwedi is the Community Manager at Drumelia Real Estate. Her primary duties involve copywriting, content creation, and social media…