Five gains thanks to the Big Freeze!

Belgium and Flanders have been in the grip of the Big Freeze for several days. It's exceptional, but you may be surprised to hear it has its advantages.

Many people believe the cold can make you ill. It's true the cold can lower your immune system, but at the same time the cold gives bacteria and moulds a bad time too. Bacterial life is at a standstill. It's often thought a harsh winter means fewer insects next spring but this isn't true I'm afraid: if summer is wet and warm insects will propagate swiftly. The cold is a good thing if you wish to lose weight. In the cold our body has to make a greater effort to keep warm. In this way we are using more fat and sugars. People also get a better night's rest if they are not too warm. During sleep the human body needs to get rid of excess heat. A good night's sleep will give you a clear head and you are able to focus more easily. When it's too warm it is harder to concentrate.

In low temperatures electric appliances lose less heat. Solar panels will produce more electricity when it's cold than when it's hot! This is because in the winter the sun is closer to the earth and less energy is lost.

Dry hands and sensitive lips are a drag in the winter, but there is good news too: the human skin is so adaptable and infections and swellings in the face and around the eye will disappear more easily.