Staying healthy in winter in Hong Kong
20 December 2016
While winter in Hong Kong means plenty of festive fun, it is also the season which heralds health and wellbeing problems for many as we fall foul of flus and colds, as well as pushing our bodies to the limit with over-indulgence. We spoke to some health industry professionals for their winter health tips.
Dr Gerald Wong is a general practitioner with Dr Lauren Bramley & Partners. The centre focuses on complete health for both individuals and their families.
“We know that many infections caused by common cold viruses are more common around this time of year, and infants, young children and the elderly are particularly at risk. Even for healthy adults, living in a crowded city like Hong Kong means that our immune systems are really stretched. My tips for staying healthy this winter are:
1. Personal hygiene
The most effective way to reduce transmission of germs is frequent hand washing or even better, using alcohol based hand rub. Studies have demonstrated that rubbing with alcohol based hand-rub for 30 seconds can be almost 30 percent more effective than anti-septic soap.
2. Get vaccinated
Children between the age of 6 months and 5 years and those above 65, or people with chronic illnesses like asthma or diabetes, should receive the flu vaccine. Last year in Hong Kong alone more than 300 people died from influenza and its complications.
3. Eat well
Eat plenty of dairies like yoghurt and cheese as they are a good source of protein, vitamin A and B12. Eat more red peppers, broccoli and sprouts for Vitamin C and more shellfish, beans and nuts for zinc.
4. Take supplements
Supplements are also useful and in particular I would recommend taking vitamin D 2000iu (the sunshine vitamin) and zinc 25mg to boost the immune system.
5. Protect your skin
Use moisturisers ideally after hand washing and immediately after baths or showers when the skin is still moist to help retain moisture. Avoid taking very hot baths as the heat can damage the oil that coats our skin.
6. Other conditions
If you are prone to conditions like asthma, take precautions such as always carrying your inhalers with you when you go on holiday. If you use a humidifier that hasn't been used for a while make sure it hasn't gathered dust and avoid exercising outdoors when it's too cold.”
Dr Lauren Bramley & Partners
9F, Pacific House, 20 Queen’s Road, Central
Nutritionist Denise Tam, of Food for Life, which distributes international health brand products in Hong Kong, says supplements can play an important role in maintaining health, given the poor quality of food. She explains what they can do during winter.
“For Hong Kong, I suspect the flu season may be more to do with the stresses that come with the season, and the slight change in weather, which many of us who have lived in Hong Kong for a long time are not used to. Stress on any part of our body is stress on the entire body, including our immune system, and this is when anything from allergies to the flu to joint pains become more apparent. Eczema or skin rashes seem to flare up more in the winter season along with joint pain. If the temperatures dip quite drastically, which we have been seeing more of these past years, then viruses may linger longer in the air and this is when influenza becomes more of an issue. Taking supplements, whether it is in the form of a traditional capsule, herbal extract, superfood powder or essential oils, is now very much needed in our modern-day lifestyle. Strengthening the immune system is the most basic – and probably the most important – step we can take to prevent illnesses from developing. Whether or not we are in flu season, our immune system needs to be strong and protected in order to help us deal with our every day stresses from the environment, the food we eat and our busy lifestyle. Taking immune boosting supplements like zinc, probiotics, Vitamin C, Echinacea and propolis can help us fight the viruses and pathogens that are in the air, while a B complex, magnesium, folate from dark leafy greens, and adaptogens like Maca can help us deal with the everyday stresses of life – particularly at the end of the year with deadlines, holidays and family vacations.”
Food for Life
Shop 4, 1 Yuen Yuen Street (located on Sing Woo Road), Happy Valley, 2893 7790
7B, Gee Chang Hang Center, 65 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, 2833 2932
G/F, 77 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, 2893 7001
Nutrition Kitchen provides pre-prepared, nutritious meals delivered to your door. One of the founders, Pete Fisher, says winter takes a toll on people’s health regimes.
“Typically people get caught up in the holiday season and abandon all sense of moderation. The biggest issue with this is that they put the brakes on any momentum that they had established with their fitness and health habits and they are effectively starting all over again in January at precisely the worst time of year as gyms are heaving with New Year's resolutioners. Seasonal excess is often followed with extreme and unsustainable dieting. This is the worst thing that you can do. If people are looking to get their health back on track they should start as they mean to go on. Impressive changes in health and physique will be achieved over the course of months, not weeks, being realistic from the outset will give you the best chance of persevering in the long term. Changing your eating habits can have an enormous impact on health. People are increasingly sedentary in their everyday lives so they simply cannot metabolize the same amount of food that they might have done previously. Taking control of their diets during the week with a service like Nutrition Kitchen means that they can afford to indulge from time to time with friends and family. Our focus in nutrient dense but lower calorie foods gives our clients the freedom to explore some of Hong Kong's amazing restaurants without compromising their health goals.”
Amrita Harjani is the Hong Kong distributor for Dr Wheatgrass products, which contains the world’s first wheatgrass in a bottle. This NASAA approved organic range is developed by Australian general practitioner Dr Chris Reynolds. Their products harness the natural healing effects of the superfood wheatgrass, that benefits both the skin and the body. Amrita says this wheatgrass range can be useful in dealing with the health impacts of winter.
“Flu, coughs, and colds are more easily spread [in winter]. Cold weather acts as a vasoconstrictor, which means it narrows blood vessels. This raises the risk of heart attack. Dry winter air can suck the moisture from your skin. Indulging in alcoholic beverages in this festive season can also provide a lot of toxins to the body. Our products are great to beat the winter cold as the supershots contains the ‘grass juice factor’ which stimulates the growth factors in the body that is important in the immune response and cellular repair. They are also a great detoxifier after the binge eating and alcohol consumption during the season and is great for sufferers of ulcerative colitis since ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune condition and wheatgrass is an immune modulator. Our skincare range is great for dry skin as it promotes cell recovery and repair by the production growth factors. This includes the Dr Wheatgrass antioxidant skin recovery spray, which is beneficial for the enhancement for normal and ageing skin. Furthermore, it is popular because several patients suffering from harsher skin conditions such as eczema and topical steroid withdrawal from eczema have been treated have been successfully treated with our spray. Wheatgrass facilitated and accelerated the body’s natural ability to heal itself, which months of treatment from standard pharmaceutical remedies had not done."
10F, Xiu Ping Commercial Building, 104 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan
i-Detox founder and director Anita Cheung entered the wellness industry after 13 years working in fashion where she was plagued by stress and allergies. She then formed the boutique wellness centre which aims to help people upgrade their lifestyle holistically.
“Cooler temperatures are more demanding on our immune system and requires our ability to adapt. Our immune system works better on a warmer body temperature – that’s why the body works up a fever when it needs to fight disease. And I can also see that many expats find it challenging to handle humidity and pollution as well. It does not help that culturally many would stay up late and consume alcohol and foods that compromise the immune system in the winter season! So sensible “damage control” (and I don’t mean being “anti-social”!) would be really useful. Sluggishness, sick days, lost opportunities to enjoy life, poor skin, bloatedness, difficulty to lose weight …. and being sick can be expensive. I have not been “sick” for years. Not that I don’t enjoy my life. But I also know what to do and take to balance things out, and I have developed a connection with myself that I am usually able to catch it when something is developing. To me, life is so much fun and I don’t have time to be sick! Why do you have to “accept” that you have to get sick like everyone else? [Get your health back on track and] come and learn at one of our experiential events! Or book a private session. Have fun learning how to upgrade your life! Make 2017 your best year ever!”
1F, V Plus, 68-70 Wellington Street, Central
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