UK Weather and Impact on Immunity
The UK is a small, densely populated island with high levels of humidity and extremely polluted cities. Simply put, it has a temperate climate, with cold, wet winters and warm, wet summers, and the temperature varies from region to region. This leads to a high level of environmental and climatic adversities for the population and affects their immune system. Additionally, the shortage of warm weather days also impacts the population's health. If you are wondering how the UK weather impacts your immunity and causes diseases like hypothyroidism, diabetes, etc., there is significant scientific reasoning to support our claim.
Scientists have researched that there is a strong correlation between human gene functioning and seasons. According to research, most human genes show clear signs of seasonal variation, especially those related to immunity and inflammation. It was concluded that a population living north of the equator had more active genes during winters. This explains why people are at a higher risk of certain diseases at specific times of the year. Aside from temperature, a lack of a proper nutritional diet also plays a critical role in developing a disease as the season changes.
Now that you know the impact on immunity due to UK's temperamental climate, we will discuss some seasonal and chronic diseases in detail and how to prevent their recurrence in winter.
Childhood Asthma in the UK
In the UK, around 1 in 11 children and young individuals live with asthma, one of the most common long-term medical conditions in children. Moreover, Europe has the highest prevalence, emergency admission, and death rates for childhood asthma. Despite the alarming numbers, asthma is not considered a fatal disease, and there is a lack of awareness among the population.
Due to multiple triggers, asthma worsens in winter and colder temperatures. The sudden shift in temperature and the cold, dry air irritates your airways and causes your body to produce more mucus. Thus, in winter, your asthma symptoms, such as chest pain, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, etc., turn from mild to severe and are more difficult to control.
The following are the triggers that worsen asthma in winter:
- Dry, cold air - when exposed to cold air, the fluid that protects your airways evaporates, causing your airways to become irritated and inflamed.
- Chest infections or respiratory illness - your chances of getting a chest infection increase in winter, resulting in asthma symptoms. This is because the protective layer of mucus around your airways thickens in winter and causes colds or flu.
- Increased indoor time - in winter, people spend more time indoors, leading to increased exposure to other people and creating a suitable feeding ground for viruses to spread quickly.
Hypothyroidism and Winter
Before we delve deep into the correlation between hypothyroidism and winter, let's first discuss the function of the thyroid and its hormones. The thyroid is responsible for multiple body functions, such as metabolism and energy conservation. It produces two hormones, T3 and T4, which control an individual's weight and body temperature and regulate the nervous system. The pituitary gland activates the thyroid by releasing stimulating thyroid hormone (TSH) and regulates the body's T3 and T4 hormone levels.
There are two thyroid diseases, hypothyroidism which results in poor skin, hair, and nail health, weight gain, and increased sensitivity to cold, etc., and hyperthyroidism causes symptoms like weight loss, anxiety, heart palpitations, insomnia, heat intolerance, etc.
During winter, TSH levels rise to keep up with the body's increased demand to regulate temperature. However, individuals with hypothyroidism face a drop in T3 and T4 levels despite a corresponding rise in TSH levels. This is because their thyroid can't keep up with the body's hormonal demands as the season changes; thus, their condition worsens.
If you have hypothyroidism, you need to consult your doctor and revise your medications and dosage, as winter can affect your skin, hair, and nail health and lead to depression, weight gain, and other symptoms.
Natural Nutritional Options for Immunity Boosting
Research supports that cold weather weakens the immune system. As temperature changes, the immune response becomes slow and sluggish, and your body becomes more susceptible to infections and diseases. This is because, in colder temperatures, immune less are less likely to go through apoptosis, intentional suicide, to prevent the spread of viruses. Moreover, a colder climate creates a favourable feeding ground for viruses as the cold, dry air dries out the protective mucus membrane and allows easier bodily access.
Aside from medications, there are several natural immunity-boosting options that you can utilise throughout the year or during the winter season to prevent severe symptoms of asthma and hypothyroidism and reduce susceptibility to colds and flu.
The following are some of the most effective natural nutritional options for immune support:
Raw honey has been used for multiple medical and health benefits for centuries. Honey is rich in antioxidants that protect your body from cellular damage caused by free radicals. Its anti-inflammatory properties are also useful for conditions related to oxidative stress. Aside from this, honey contains beneficial prebiotics that nourishes good bacteria and improves digestion. Moreover, honey's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal for helping a sore throat and cold, suggesting it might be a superior treatment option for upper respiratory tract infections.
Selenium Supplement for Thyroid
Selenium is naturally found in foods or taken as a supplement for thyroid. It is an essential component of various proteins and enzymes that offers immune support and protects the body against cellular damage and infections. Selenium supplement for thyroid also helps maintain skin, hair, and nail health and ensures your body is in optimal health.
During the winter, your sun exposure is greatly limited as you spend most of your time indoors. Not only are you increasing your risk of developing chest infections, but you are also reducing your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to several health complications, poor immune function and insulin production, and fatigue. You can increase the uptake of eggs, milk, salmon, yoghurt, etc., to increase your vitamin D supply.
To conclude, the UK weather greatly impacts your health and immunity. Exposure to cold, dry air weakens your immune response, worsens your asthma and hypothyroidism symptoms, and increases the risk of chest infections due to pre-existing conditions. You can greatly control the outcome and support the immune system by taking a proper diet and adding natural nutritional options and supplements. We hope this article helped!