Text by Meinred Signer
There is no question that health is important. Vaccinations can prevent us from getting communal diseases such as the flu. There are people who cannot afford to be sick and there are people whose life is jeopardized by a mild disease like the flu. For those there is no doubt, vaccination is important. But how have generation after generation survived without vaccinations? It’s very simple. The immune system naturally increased every time the individual got infected with new germs, without the aid of antibiotics which were not available until seventy years ago. So the question is how can we boost our immune system so that we do not get sick, or if we do get a disease like the flu, how can we boost our system so that the body can easily manage being under attack?
When do you get a cold and the flu? Most often it is a few days after you’ve had cold feet for a long period of time. It seems like our body thermostat is in the feet. So therefore, never get cold feet, keep them warm all the time, stay inside, never go out in the fresh air, sleep in a overheated bedroom, use as much medicine as you can swallow and blindly trust our health care system or……
There is another approach to keeping the feet warm. Appropriate footwear is of course important in our climate, but if you were to walk a few steps barefoot in the snow during the evening and then go inside; your feet would get increased blood circulation and get red hot. You could go to bed in a cool bedroom and your feet would stay warm. The increased blood circulation stays for the next day and you can feel comfortable outside in the fresh air being active. You’ll feel better, burn more energy and get a deep sleep at night. Activity and exposure to the elements will get you healthier and happier.
If those few steps barefoot in the snow are too mild for you, why not go a bit further? Why not try to bathe outside in cold water. Here during a Manitoba winter? Wouldn’t it make you sick with hypothermia, pneumonia and the common cold? Hmm, it does not sound appealing, does it? However, it would increase the blood flow through your entire body.
Let’s go one step further. Imagine having a sauna bath in the evening. After a cleansing shower, go in a sauna room for ten to fifteen minutes at 80°C, splashing water with a little bit of eucalyptus oil in it on the rocks. Now you feel cooking hot. A cold shower feels like a summer rain. Now walk outside and take a few deep breaths of fresh air down into your lungs. A tub full of cold water and a little bit of ice on it does not even feel cold anymore and you dip your skin in, aaaah! Time to go inside. Shower your feet with cool water and they still feel warm. Then you start to cool off. No worry, the sauna will get you all warmed up again in ten to fifteen minutes. Have you ever tried it?
The people of Finland have done it regularly for hundreds of years. Their climate and the length of their winter are similar to those of the Canadian prairies. Finland has 5.2 million people and there are 1.4 million saunas, almost one for every family. Forestry and its products, agriculture and tourism are the main sources of livelihood for the Finns. Finns are known to be healthy people. So, what comes to your mind when you hear the word Finland? More likely you think sauna than you think fresh cut lumber, countless lakes, and an abundance of untouched nature, just like in Manitoba or northwestern Ontario.
Have you ever thought about other ways to stay warm and comfortable in winter other than staying inside and watching TV? We can find all kinds of outside activity from ice fishing, snowmobiling, country skiing, skating, walking and so forth. All these activities we like to do together with likeminded people and being together simply makes it more fun. Life is too short to stay inside and be inactive. If one evening of the week gets used for a sauna bath and that splash in the cold tub, it will sure spice up your activity level and you may as well forget those cold feet and your flu shot for good.