When the bone-chilling cold of winter sets in, it’s often our hands and feet that first feel the effects, and there’s an anatomical explanation for that. As the temperature drops, our hands and feet get cold because our bodies give priority to keeping the vital organs, such as our heart and lungs, warm and that leads to reduced blood flow to our extremities.
Further, the feet and hands, along with the ears, have more thermoregulatory receptors than any other parts of our body, and that means they actually direct blood flow away from themselves toward the core of the body to keep our vital organs warm and functioning.
But while nature is working to protect the inner core of our body, here are five things you can do to keep both hands and feet warm as temperatures plunge.
- Eat heart-healthy foods – You can boost your overall blood circulation by including heart-healthy foods such as fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, oatmeal, dark chocolate and lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. These foods work wonders for your circulation, essential for adequate blood flow and temperature regulation.
- Spice it up and sip warm drinks – Add some spice to your diet with tasty amounts of black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne, cardamom, horseradish, ginger and garlic, all of which are known not just for their flavor but also for their ability to increase body temperature. Besides the usual coffee or hot chocolate, many nutritionists recommend matcha tea, available online. It’s rich in antioxidants and known for its ability to boost the body’s metabolism.
- Exercise – Whether it’s a gym workout or just some basic movement, exercise gets our blood flowing and raises body temperature. Something as simple as swinging your arms, as if you were pitching a softball, creates centrifugal force that sends blood to your cold fingertips.
- Wear the right gloves – Skip those cheapies or a thin, fashionable pair in favor of bunting or fleece gloves that keep your hands warm in icy temperatures.
- Dress your feet – For seriously cold temperatures, consider a two to three layer system: a lightweight wicking sock, lightweight wool sock and a medium to heavy wool sock. And remember that wet boots or shoes don’t insulate very well. So make sure to dry them thoroughly overnight to get rid of the moisture that’s built up in them during the day.