Nutrition, maintaining health and building immunity in winter!
Winter brings the opportunity for delicious hearty meals, slow cooking and delicious hot beverages! But there’s so much more to energy input and output that’s required during the colder months.
In the next blog there will be some winter warming recipes for meals and snacks, but for now, top tips for what to do and what to include and exclude from your diet to beat the winter blues, keep you snuggly warm and with a super fighting immune system to protect you from those circulating nasty bugs!
Rest and recovery is so important, and there’s no better way than a decent nights shut eye. A study at New York University found the most immune-strengthening benefits happen after the seventh hour of sleep. So aim for 8-9 hours if possible, your body will thank you for it.
2. Practice good hygiene
Winter brings an influx or cold and flu germs, so as obvious as it may sound, make sure you practice good hygiene to avoid catching the bugs! Wash hands thoroughly and carry hand sanitiser.
In case it wasn’t made clear in the last blog, exercising in winter keeps you warm, strengthens your immune system, releases feel good endorphins and prevents winter weight gain, so no excuses, get moving.
4. Stay hydrated
As Mentioned, general hydration in winter is usually overlooked, but is so important. Particularly when unwell or ‘coming down with something’. Maintain your usual fluid intake, increasing it when exercising heavily or when immunity is down. It cleanses and clears the system and combats dehydration, which is a main reason that bugs hang around.
Remember, if you’re struggling with cold water, warm water, hot water with lemon or herbal teas are just as, sometime more effective, in hydrating the system (and the warm you up!) Top tip: Start each day with lemon juice and peel in warm water to strengthen the immune system
5. Drink tea
Most know a hot cup of tea can help break up chest congestion and soothe a sore throat, but did you know ALL tea contains a group on antioxidants known as catechins which have flu-fighting properties, may help boost immunity and metabolic rate and protect against cancer and heart disease. Get sipping!
6. Cut down on sugar.
Yes, the hot chocolate or pudding with custard may seem like a great idea, but think again. Not only will too much sugar in your diet lead to weight gain (which we all know!) it depletes our very important immune system. Indulge in healthy soups and stews and herbal teas instead. They are going to give your body and your waistline the result you want.
7. Embrace garlic!
Yes, it can be an undesirable thing to have garlic on your breath and seeping from you pores, but it is very good for you in winter. It is packed full of antiviral and antibacterial properties making it an ideal ingredient in winter meals. Use it in soups, casseroles, roasts, stir frys, meatballs, sauces, anything! A UK study found that people who take a garlic supplement each day reduced their risk of catching a cold by more than half.
8. Consume Vitamin C
Everyone thinks oranges, but there are many more foods that contain as much or more vitamin C than oranges. The foods which contain high levels of vitamin C that you should include in your winter diet are;
- Kale and other dark green leafy vegetables
- Kiwi fruit
- Broccoli (cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and cabbage closely follow in vitamin c content)
- Citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit)
- Berries (particularly strawberries)
- Cooked tomatoes
Fill up on other ‘flu-fighting foods’
We need a lot more during winter than the widely known Vitamin C. Here are a few examples of ‘flu fighting foods’ to include in your winter diet;
They contain selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines that clear sickness, and beta glycan, a type of soluble fibre which helps activate cells that find and destroy infections.
Full on probiotics and prebiotics which will enhance immune function.
One oyster provides almost all the zinc you need for a day, which is criticial for your immune system to attack bacteria and viruses.
- Sweet potato (and other orange foods such as carrots, pumpkin and egg yolks)
These foods contain beta-carotene which improves your body’s defences by being active in the growth and development of immune system cells and helping to neutralise toxins.
- Go raw.
Warm, hearty meals are the desirable go to in winter, but nutritious food is at highest benefit in its raw state. So add in a side salad or have as an entrée, or have raw veggies and fruit as snacks
Mobile Personal Training Specialist
4 U Body Fitness