The general thinking among the UK public during the bitingly cold months of winter seems to be that not only clothing needs to be bulkier; meals must be heavier too. For this not to impact on body weight would mean a compensating level of physical activity, which is seldom the case. A 2000 study by Jack A Yanovski and colleagues published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that, although the average winter weight gain was not significant, efforts to shed the extra pounds when the weather grew warmer were seldom made. With obesity and its related illnesses becoming a national health concern, this is seen as an obvious and on-going contributing factor.
The importance of healthy eating in winter not only impacts on physical well-being, but also on emotional. It can protect against colds and flu, as well as those darker moods that seem to accompany the darker days. Immune-boosting nutrition can also offer a large measure of protection against life-threatening diseases such as cancer.
Vitamin C has always been called on to fight colds and flu and this is because of its ability to boost the body’s production of infection-fighting white blood cells. It also produces higher levels of antibodies like interferon, which prevent viruses from entering cells. Guavas and red peppers have among the highest concentrates of vitamin C. Eaten raw these provide maximum benefit, but the peppers can be liberally added to winter soups and stews for more protective punch. Surprisingly, oranges have less than half the vitamin C content of these two super-foods.
On the scale of super-foods, broccoli is considered a kingpin. It is simply loaded with vitamin C, calcium, beta-carotene and potassium and contains two very powerful cancer-fighting substances. Spinach is another green with similar nutritional muscle. Using both of these to bulk-up soups and stews will contribute much to the body’s protective arsenal. Flavouring agents can also lend a large measure of protection against winter misery.
There is a reason why garlic was chosen as a defence against vampires: It is simply packed with power. Thought to have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial elements, garlic easily deals with symptoms of the common cold. It reduces cholesterol, fights heart disease, lowers blood sugar, clears chest infections and stimulates the production of aggressive cells that attack cancerous cells. MRSA strains that are resistant to antibiotics have also been known to respond to garlic.
There is a wide range of fruit and vegetables with the ability to boost our immunity to illness and most are easily incorporated into the hearty soups and stews that give comfort during the cold bleakness of winter. Mushrooms assist with white blood cell production. Chillies have great anti-bacterial and decongestant properties. Honey is a great anti-inflammatory, infection-fighting, antiseptic, immunity-boosting accompaniment for warm winter puddings and the average spice rack contains cold-fighting agents like ginger and turmeric. It only remains to find inventive new ways of adding these to most of our winter dishes; thereby adding to our winter arsenal.
Greg is a freelance writer who likes to write about travel, hair styling, health, and lifestyle. Check out his own blog where you can find more tips!
Coast Spine Medicine has the top Orange County Orthopedic Surgeons