Generally, harmattan is the usual herald of the December month, what with the biting cold that comes with it. Immediately the rain ceased, it gave way to a cold wind that competes with the sun, such that even when the sun is high in the sky, you still feel cold!
The nights are trickier: the weather is damper at nights, effectively keeping you awake when you should be having a sound sleep.
One thing about the cold weather, though, is that it is very much unlike the warm season. However cold it gets, there are one million and one things you could do to keep warm. The same cannot be said of warm season, which is a lot more difficult to manage.
Family Physician, Dr. Dele Awe, notes that keeping warm during the harmattan can stave off colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
He notes that the chances of developing these challenges are higher if an individual is vulnerable to cold weather illnesses, perhaps because of old age or if someone has long-term health condition such as heart, lung or kidney disease.
This being the case, what can you do to keep warm while this cold season lasts? Read on!
Keep warm with food
Even without the cold, the benefits of eating warm foods cannot be wished away. Nutritionists say, in general, there are several nutritional factors that can be affected by eating hot or cold foods. Such factors include the rate of absorption of nutrients, digestion and the amount of certain vitamins and minerals in the food.
A nutritionist, Dr. Remi Omotunde, says in order to improve digestion, one should eat warm food. He has reasons for this.
“The digestion of cold foods begins in the mouth, and it makes the body work the more to fully process the food. In the alternative, the digestion of hot foods begins with cooking, when the food’s chemicals begin to be broken down before they enter the body.
“By improving digestion, therefore, nutrients from warm foods will be more easily absorbed, therefore increasing overall nutritional value of the food,” Omotunde advises.
He adds that drinking warm water or hot tea aids digestion and helps detoxify the body. The nutritionist however warns against drinking alcoholic beverages in order to keep warm.
He says, “Though they do make you feel warmer, alcoholic beverages actually lower your body temperature, which can lead to hypothermia and even death.”
So, what warm foods can we eat to beat this cold? One of such foods is pepper soup. No matter what, pepper soup is almost always served warm or steaming hot; while the assorted ingredients that give it its sometimes pungent aroma are other reasons to take this eastern delicacy.
While pepper soup may serve as the starter, make sure that whatever dish follows is also warm enough to keep the magic of the pepper soup going. For this, Omotunde says since the body keeps warm by burning food you’ve eaten, endeavour to have regular hot meals that contain carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, bread and rice.
Dress for the weather
This is not the season for hippie dressing. Rather, stay warm outdoors and in the office by wearing clothes that will keep you warm, especially if your office is equipped with air conditioner. Experts say warm clothing prevents exposure, while it also helps you to retain body heat.
Men and women can wear three-piece suits; while thick cardigans are also not out of place for both sexes.
Children should be kitted well, too, taking particular care of the chest and upper back regions so as to completely keep the cold at bay.
Take warm bath
The season is cold, therefore it’s advisable to take warm bath. It is understandable, though, that some people detest warm bath for whatever reason. Such people can make do with water that is of room temperature.
Wear covered shoes, slippers
If you are at home, wear slippers that cover the front part of the feet, as the toes are known to catch cold easily, making them to sometimes feel numb. Indeed, experts note that we lose most our body heat through the hands and feet!
When going to work, go for good shoes that cover the entire toes. For women, this may not be the ideal season for wearing open toes. Save them for the warm season.
Keep the house warm
Harmattan has many peculiarities, one of which is the dry and dusty wind that blows about, giving people stuffy nose, gritty teeth and, sometimes, reddened eyes.
It is advisable to weather-proof your house by mending cracks on the doors or windows. When you do this, the house keeps warm when you shut the doors and windows. Plus, you would have prevented heat loss by this singular act.
Experts note that once the evening sets in and darkness approaches, heat will begin to escape from the interior and the draughts will start coming in. Keeping the doors and windows closed will do much in keeping you warm while indoors.
It may not be out of place to leave the lights on when you are in, as they also warm up the interior, keeping you warm in the process.
Sleep in bed
The average Nigerian sleeps on bed, rather than in bed. Yet, when you sleep in bed, you will keep cold at bay and keep warm while the night lasts.
How does this happen? In most homes these days, most beds are covered with layers of beddings such as bedspreads and blankets, apart from the regular cover cloth that we use. In order to sleep in bed, you would tuck yourself under the blanket and pull the bedspreads over yourself. This will more than keep you warm; unlike if you sleep on all the bedspreads and only cover yourself with your regular cover cloth.
Have a pleasant harmattan season!
Follow Author on Twitter @AyoAderele
Source – The Punch
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