The winter season brings a high incidence of vascular disease — both cardiovascular and cerebrovascular. But traditional Chinese medicine gives you some essential tips on things you can do to help prevent vascular disease in the winter.
According to Chinese medicine, the main reason is that blood vessels constrict when the weather turns cold, including those in the heart and brain.
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In addition, the viscosity of the blood increases as well. For those with underlying vascular stenosis, these factors will cause their blood vessels to become even narrower and the flow of blood to be slower, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
5 things that can help avert vascular disease in winter
1. Do cold-resistant exercises to avert vascular disease
By exposing yourself to slight and repeated exposure to cold, your body’s ability to withstand freezing temperatures improves.
The human body abides by the law of activities that promote life, including growth and storage. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the four seasons have different specialties: sprouting in the spring, increasing in the summer, harvesting in autumn, and storage in the winter.
During the winter, the body is primed to store some energy. Moderate cold-resistant exercise helps increase stamina and energy.
2. Avoid frigid temperatures
When going outdoors in the winter, it’s essential not to go outside and suddenly begin a vigorous activity. It’s also important not to go outside without sufficient warm clothing.
Instead, you should start at a leisurely pace when you go outside in the cold and give your body time to adjust to the temperature. In addition, according to Chinese medicine, too much fluctuation in temperature will cause blood pressure to increase, so dressing warmly is essential to help maintain a state of harmony in the body.
Ideally, it would be best if you waited to go outside to exercise in the winter until the sun has risen and try to avoid going out after the sun has set. According to the health wisdom of Nei Jing, you should also go to bed early in the winter months and wake up a bit later to avoid cold setting in the body and causing disharmony.
3. Eat fewer cold foods and more protein
According to Chinese medicine, people should eat fewer foods at a cold temperature in terms of diet. This is because consuming cold food requires more of the body’s energy to digest and this can weaken the immune system. In addition, in nature, foods like fruits and vegetables are less abundant this time of year, and people usually rely on stored foods.
This is nature’s way of telling your body what foods are best for you in the winter.
Winter is the time to focus on consuming more protein. Eating foods that are easily stored, like meat (including beef, fish, lamb, and chicken), grains, beans, and nuts, helps support the body’s energy (qi) and strengthens the blood and kidneys. In addition, eating these foods improves blood circulation and helps the body resist cold, while also increasing the body’s qi reserves.
4. Don’t get angry
There is a saying in Chinese medicine: “All diseases stem from anger.” This is because anger blocks the qi in the individual organs and the whole body. Therefore, emotional harmony is required to maintain sufficient balance and coordination in the body.
If the mind is calm, qi can pass through the body without being impeded, and blood can flow smoothly. This allows the essential qi to fill the body, thus preventing disease.
5. Be mindful of any abnormal symptoms in the body
While doing what you can for your cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health, you should also observe your body for signs of disease.
For example, signs of a stroke include frequent dizziness, headache, nausea, weakness, sudden numbness, unsteady giant, and uncoordinated limbs.
Signs of a heart attack include chest pain (often described as a squeezing sensation or like an elephant sitting on your chest), shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, and left arm and jaw pain (though it may appear on the right).
The above are some points to be mindful of in the cold months ahead to help prevent the risk of vascular disease, including strokes and heart attacks. If you notice any abnormal signs, you should follow up with your doctor or hospital immediately to avoid serious consequences.