Woman down with the cold.

Why You Actually Get Sick in Cold Weather

Cold and flu season has officially arrived and it can be difficult to keep yourself from succumbing to one or the other, or both if you’re unlucky. It isn’t just a nasty cold or flu virus that can have you feeling less than great during the winter months, you may also experience a worsening of other health conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. Research from Cambridge University helps to bring some clarity when it comes to why you actually get sick in cold weather.

What Causes Cold Weather Illness
It’s a fact that illness rates go up during cold weather and there has been little indication as to what is actually causing this. A study conducted by John Todd, professor of Medical Genetics at Cambridge University, concludes that your genes are responsible for the increase in illness and discomfort you experience during the winter. Why does this happen? The theory is that your genes actually change their behavior in response to seasonal changes. This amazing bit of science was discovered by chance by one of Professor Todd’s Ph.D. students. The student noted that during winter, immunity genes were more active in white blood cells than they were at other times of the year. White blood cells are the cells in your body that are responsible for fighting off infection and illness.

Scientific Study Provides Support
Once the discovery had been made, Professor Todd launched a research study that included over 16,000 worldwide. The research team, lead by Todd, carefully analyzed blood and tissue samples from participants coming from a large variety of climates and environments. Your body contains around 24,000 genes and the research conducted by Todd and his team analyzed 22,000 human genes, making it a comprehensive study.

What they found was that nearly one-quarter of genes in the human body show signs of altered behavior during seasonal change. The weather in Britain changes significantly with the seasons, much like it does here. Todd found that during the winter months, immune system genes ramped up their activity during the winter months. However, samples from Iceland, where it is cold the majority of the time and there are few seasonal changes, showed that genes were more active prior to the rainy season in Iceland.

Why do Genes Change Behavior and Why Does More Immune Activity Make you Sick?
While the study indicated clearly that there are many genes that alter their behavior according to season changes, the reason why is still unclear. The researchers who conducted the study believe that genes receive natural clues from their environment, such as temperature or sunlight, and then respond accordingly.

If your immunity genes in white blood cells are more active during cold, winter months, then why do you still get sick? Shouldn’t more activity equal more protection? Not entirely. Professor Todd explains that the spike in activity can cause your cells to malfunction and attack your body instead of just foreign invaders. Your immunity genes control white blood cells, which triggers inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major component of serious diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and type 1 diabetes.

What Does All of This Mean?
The research all boils down to one fact: if you know more about what’s wrong, you can treat the condition more effectively. Drugs that target inflammation may be more effective when used during the winter months to treat serious conditions like arthritis. Additionally, Professor Todd suggests that perhaps instead of getting vaccinated immediately when fall starts, it may be more beneficial to be vaccinated later in the winter when your body is already primed for immune action.

Staying healthy during winter weather can be a challenge and some places, like at work or school, you can’t fully control your exposure to bacteria and viruses. Understanding what happens to cause illness in cold weather is a promising step in discovering how to more effectively prevent and fight these illnesses as well. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often and to stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading germs. Even though your genes alter their behavior, prevention of disease by hand washing and vaccination is still important because these practices can significantly lessen the severity of your illness.

Woman checking her hips for cellulite.

Resveralife Live Well: Cellulite Myths Busted

Cellulite. One little word that causes large amounts of stress, obsession and frustration. It is estimated that 90% of the United States population struggles with cellulite. While the vast majority of us have some cellulite to deal with, many of us do not have accurate information as to what cellulite really is and as to what we can do to help eradicate it. Keep reading this Resveralife Live Well Guide to find out what cellulite is, who is most likely to get cellulite and what can be done to help minimize the problem of cellulite.

What is Cellulite?
Many of us incorrectly believe that cellulite is merely a buildup of excess fat. This is certainly not true. If it were, it would be near impossible for those skinny or athletic individuals to have cellulite. Because all body types are susceptible to cellulite, there must be another explanation for cellulite. Cellulite has more to do with your genetic makeup than your diet, though diet and exercise do have an impact on the appearance of cellulite. Beneath our skin are layers of fibrous tissue that keep fat in the appropriate place. These layers of fibers change as we age due to changes in our hormones and depending on nutrition, diet and exercise. When these layers of fiber weaken fat pushes through and the result is cellulite.

Who Gets Cellulite?
With 90% of the population having some amount of cellulite, it seems that the answer to this question is…everyone. And this is the truth. However, women are more likely than men to deal with cellulite and it often appears as people age. Skinny individuals are just as likely to get cellulite as those that are overweight.

What can be Done to Remove Cellulite?
The myth that we are stuck with cellulite forever is perhaps the most discouraging. As are the myths that there is a magic way to remove cellulite. No amount of liposuction, laser treatments or body wraps will end cellulite forever. There are steps that can be taken to minimize the appearance of cellulite.

The first way to combat cellulite is to make adjustments to your diet. Add in plenty of “wet” foods such as cantaloupe, cucumbers, strawberries and watermelon. These foods contain water and nutrients that help fight cellulite. Water provides much needed collagen to your body, while the nutrients help flatten out the fat under your fibrous tissues.

While we all would love for a magic cream to simply take the cellulite away, that is not an immediate possibility. However, there are certain skincare ingredients that can help smooth our the skin, making the cellulite less noticeable. The two ingredients that have scientific evidence at working are retinol and caffeine. Together, these two ingredients help to shrink fat cells and strengthen the fibrous tissue.

Lastly, there are certain lifestyle habits you can adopt that will help with cellulite. Exercise and strength training are two important additions to make to your lifestyle. Another option that experts recommend is to use the technique of dry brushing. A dry brush costs around $20 and regular use can help smooth out cellulite. Begin at your lower leg and use circular motions to work up the leg. Bonus benefit to dry brushing? You exfoliate at the same time that you help eradicate the cellulite.

Myths about cellulite will continue to pervade society, but fortunately there are truly factual ways to get rid of the problem.