Warm Up Wisely

by Melaina Juntti

Winter is on its way, and many of us spend November through February chilled to the bone, even indoors. Besides making you uncomfortable, low body temperature can leave you susceptible to infection and disease—and signal underlying health conditions. Here’s how to stay warm without cranking the thermostat dial.

Cover the cold spots. Yes, hands and feet get icy, but don’t forget your wrists and ankles—neither have much insulating fat. Wear wool socks that rise to your calf and close-fitting sleeves that extend to the bases of your hands.

Brush it out. Brushing your skin when it’s dry—once before your a.m. shower and again pre–pajama time—can stimulate blood and lymph flow to generate warmth. Use a long-handled brush with natural, soft bristles and gently stroke away from your heart.

Spice it up. Add a dash of warming cayenne, cardamom, or cumin to most any dish or drink. Grate ginger into tea or milk, or whip up a wasabi paste to spread on whole-grain crackers.

Limit liquor and lattes. Although warm Cabernet and steamy coffee drinks can warm you temporarily, both booze and caffeine can constrict blood vessels and impede circulation, so think twice about second servings.

Up your iron intake. Women are especially at risk for iron-deficiency anemia, which can cause low body temps. Eat plenty of iron-rich leafy greens, lentils, and tofu, and talk with your doctor about supplementing additional iron.

Get together and laugh. Invite friends over for board games, improv comedy, or talent shows. More bodies in a room equals more heat, and laughter works your muscles to keep you toasty.