15 January 2024


Constantly cold? How to warm up!


When it gets cold outside, some people can dress as warmly as they like, but they never get really warm. Why some bodies are more sensitive to the cold than others and how you can still warm them up properly. 


When we are cold, our blood vessels contract and because our body thinks it is overcooling, it goes on the defensive. It then tries to warm itself by shivering, for example, or forms an insulating layer of air cushions with goose bumps and standing hair. These are completely normal reactions that we all experience because we all get cold at some point. But what if you really are always cold? If you never really get warm even when it's 21 degrees in the office? 


Many causes 

"There can be many reasons for this," says Sonja Laciny, a doctor who specializes in traditional Chinese medicine. On the one hand, there are very fundamental differences: women, for example, always freeze faster than men because the latter simply have thicker skin and ten to 15 percent more natural muscle mass. On the other hand, there are also causes that send out constant shivering as a warning signal. 

"It is well known that low blood pressure or iron deficiency are often behind a particular sensitivity to cold, and young women are particularly affected," says Laciny. In both cases, circulation and blood flow are slowed down - and faster freezing is a direct consequence. However, there are also hormonal causes, such as an underactive thyroid gland, or (and this may sound frighteningly familiar to some) Stress


What makes us feel cold in everyday life  

As is so often the case, it is the supposedly banal things that have the greatest impact on our feeling of cold: 

·       Stress hormones constrict our blood vessels, increase our blood pressure and make our hands and feet cold. 

·       Sitting a lot and lack of exercise worsen our blood circulation and make us shiver. 

·       Last but not least: sleep affects our perception of cold. Especially the sleep we don't get. 


Temperature regulator sleep  


If we sleep too little, our body releases even more stress hormones, but not only that. It also gets more appetite because it tries to get its energy from other sources, but this does not work to the same extent. 


And what also doesn't work properly when you don't sleep are the so-called natural killer cells, explains doctor Laciny: "These are white blood cells that fight off infections, but are only active when we sleep."   


So if you don't sleep much, you catch a cold more quickly and don't recover as easily. This effect is further exacerbated if you are constantly cold. Unfortunately, simply hibernating is not enough to stay healthy. 


Warming food  


"Cold can actually come from the inside," says Sonja Laciny: "Many people think they are eating healthily, but they unconsciously cool their bodies throughout the winter." But how can that be?  


According to the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), every food has a temperature. It can therefore be warm or cold or even hot, although the actual temperature of the meal has little to do with it. However, according to the TCM practitioner, anyone who uses warming ingredients to create a warm meal to combat coldness has already done something right.   


For breakfast, she recommends warm, cooked oatmeal with warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, aniseed or dried orange peel. Ideally, homemade soup is served in the evening, no matter what kind: "Vegetable soup, beef soup or chicken soup. Whatever tastes good and is in season is ideal." A little horseradish stirred into the soup provides a little extra warmth, because: "Mildly spicy foods such as horseradish, mild chili, garlic or onions warm you up well." 



Recipe: Warming breakfast oatmeal 

50g rolled oats, small flakes 

100 ml water  

100 ml plant-based milk 

1 pinch of ground cardamom 

1 pinch of cinnamon 

1 pinch of salt 

1-2 dates, finely chopped 

1 pear 


Mix the rolled oats, water, plant-based milk, spices and chopped dates in a pan and simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Do not forget to stir. 


If the pear is very ripe, you can simply leave it to simmer for another minute at the end. We recommend making a compote from unripe pears or frying them briefly in a pan over a medium heat - with a little butter and a dash of maple syrup for flavor.  


Tip: If you use a little less liquid and mix in one or two eggs instead, you can make healthy pancakes from the uncooked mixture. Simply leave the mixed oatmeal to stand a little longer and then fry in a little oil. 


And while there is (unfortunately) no single guide to a healthy diet, there are a few basic rules you can follow to keep the cold out in winter. "Get enough sleep, exercise, eat warm food and wear the right clothes. It sounds like grandma's advice, but it works really well."  And if you're still cold, here are a few instant warmth tips from the TCM practitioner: 


The magic formula against the cold 


Keep your feet warm: Be it with good shoes, a hot water bottle or a warm foot bath. Keeping our feet warm is important to prevent the cold from spreading to the rest of the body. 

Stay active and exercise: This helps to boost circulation, especially when blood pressure is low 

Wear a scarf: The throat and neck in particular are very sensitive to the cold and have a major impact on the rest of the body. Therefore: wrap up well 

Hot baths: If you are really frozen through, the best thing to do is to take a hot bath. Afterwards, however, you should not go outside, but rather go to bed. 

In the office: A radiant heater or hot water bottle on your feet and a thermos flask of hot tea at your desk will keep you warm even if you don't move much 

Combine cold: In combination with heat, cold can also be healthy. A cold shower after the sauna or a simple contrast shower strengthens the immune system. 


About the person 

Dr. Sonja Laciny is a doctor specializing in traditional Chinese medicine. She works at the TCM Center in Vienna. 

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