Winter is here and there are changes happening in your body, right down to our DNA! In winter as an evolutionary measure developed over a very long period, our body starts storing more fat. Our bodies tend to be inflamed easier leading to flu, flaring up of inflammation related diseases, autoimmune disorders as well as hypertension disorders. A lot of people think that our weight goes up in winter as a seasonal thing, but we are usually less active in winter seasons due to the cold, and we stay indoors longer leading to overeating and the different holidays don’t help a lot; leading a lot of people to gain weight in winter seasons.
Dr. Arati Soman, Ayurvedic Expert, Nisarga Herbs told HerZindagi that "maintaining a balanced diet with lots of green vegetables, protein, fruits, complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fats is a suggested diet throughout the year but here are a few tips according to Ayurveda to maintain a healthy and robust diet this winter. During winter the most important thing is to keep our immune system strong as people are most susceptible to viruses, cough, cold and flu."
Here are some tips and must have food items that Soman suggests for a healthy you.
Iron & Zinc Food
We need to focus on zinc and iron as essential components. They help in maintaining a strong immune response. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, and seafood like fatty fish (mackerel), lentils are some of the best sources of zinc and Iron.
Consume more citrus fruits like lemons, limes, oranges have a lot of vitamin C. It is a rich anti-oxidant and works well to keep our immunity intact. We usually feel lethargic and tired in winter months due to shorter days and colder weather, increasing your uptake of milk, eggs and cheese will provide you with a healthy dose of B12 which reduces fatigue and feeling of tiredness.
If you feel especially cold in winter, you should eat more root vegetables like garlic, radishes, carrots and sweet potatoes. They offer slow release of energy in the body and also work as warming foods. Make a nice sauté with a mix of these different root vegetables in a little bit of ghee and spices and you have an amazing side dish full of essential warming nutrients.
Since we are indoors, it is best to avoid sugar-laden foods as they are neither good for energy or for our waistlines. When you consume a lot of sugar, there is a sudden rush of energy for a short while and then there is a crash which we don’t want in cold winter months. Instead, opt for natural sweeteners like honey.
Honey can be used as a salad dressing (with a little bit of chilli forkick), in milk or as a topping on different foods. Honey is warming in nature and has a host of natural micronutrients which help improve immunity as well as wellbeing. People with diabetes shouldn’t consume honey in winter however without consulting your doctor.
Another way to stay healthy, warm as well as nourished in an enjoyable way is to consume dry fruits. Dry fruits like figs, dates, raisins are packed with vitamins, essential micronutrients, have healthy fats and satiate the sweet tooth as well. You can make a powder of a mix of dry fruits and add it to milk to make a delicious warm drink. It will keep you warm, nourished as well as give essential energy especially when you are feeling sluggish and tired.
Spices are a way of life in India and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger will help keep you warm as well as healthy in winter. They are packed with rich antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that will keep you warm, energetic.
Finally, drink lots of water. In winter, the colder and drier weather inhibits sweating so we are not as thirsty as we would be in any other season. Drink lots of water. Aim for at least 3 liters a day. This will keep not only your throat and mouth hydrated but also hydrate your skin and reduce dryness of skin.
Food To Avoid If Susceptible To Cold
- If you already have a cold, avoid eating histamine rich foods like dairy, tomatoes and cheese as they lead to increased mucus production and inflammation leading to an increase in severity of the condition.
- Avoid deep-fried foods as well as they increase inflammation, the oil doesn’t help irritation in throat either.
- Hot coffee is a favourite of a lot of people as it gives sharpness to the mind and warmth for a while. Avoid coffee to some extent as caffeine causes increased urination and may lead to dehydration.
Following these tips will lead to a warm, healthy and happy winter. Stay tuned to HerZindagi for more Ayurvedic tips.