It’s no coincidence that winter is also referred to as cold & flu season. Many people may not know that being cold actually has a direct impact on the body’s ability to protect itself, and there is ample evidence to show that feeling cold can trigger the beginning of a number of illnesses. In Japan, the practice of keeping your body temperature warm in order to maintain health and vitality is called “on-katsu” (on means warm and katsu means practice). The principle behind on-katsu is important, because it centers on the strong relationship between body temperature and immunity, which is one of many necessary building blocks towards health and wellness.
How can low body temperature lead to illness?
In order to maintain a strong immune system, it is important not to let your body temperature fall too low. This is because lymphocytes, such as NK cells, which fight at the front-lines of your body’s defense mechanism, weaken when the body’s temperature falls below 96.8 degrees. In addition, colder body temperatures result in poor blood circulation, which means that waste, toxins, and germs stay in the body longer.
The reason you get a fever when you get sick is because your body is raising the temperature in an attempt to activate its own lymphocytes, which will help fight off the pathogen responsible for the illness. Because our bodies are governed by the principle of homeostasis (equilibrium), body temperatures do not raise above the baseline very easily, or for very long. However, raising your body temperature, even for a short period of time, can be a very effective way to help improve your immunity.
How can you raise your body temperature?
1. Take a warm bath
In our ever-increasingly fast paced culture, we have come to undervalue the benefits of a good old fashioned soak in the bathtub. And even those of us who do value it, often find ourselves in such a hurry that we don’t make time to put it into practice. But studies have shown that replacing your daily shower with a bath, can result in significantly less fatigue.
2. Stay warm while you sleep
Because the body is less active while sleeping, it’s important to make sure you sustain warm body temperatures throughout the night. Adding extra blankets, using hot water bottles or heating pads, or even keeping a small heater in the room, are all easy ways to make sure your body temperature doesn’t drop while you sleep.
3. Consume warm foods and drinks
Although there isn’t much scientific evidence to prove it, ginger is said to be one of the best foods to help raise body temperature. Ginger is one of the primary ingredients used in the practice of Oriental Medicine, and is often prescribed for various common illnesses and symptoms related to cold. Hot tea, warm soup, and spicy foods are also said to be very helpful ways to raise your body temperature.