Every nutrient serves an essential role in the body, which is why it is important to consume a nutrient -rich and varied diet. From a carbohydrate-rich and nutrient packed citrus fruits to a protein dense, fat laden, and iron loaded chicken, every food and beverage that a person eats or drinks gets broken down into macronutrients. These nutrients help a body to carry out various functions, giving energy for day-to-day chores.
The transition between seasons brings large transition into our lives. Our cooking changes as we switch from outdoor grilling on a summer day to indoor ovens on a winter day.
During winters, when the skin or blood temperature drops, the thermoregulatory centre activates mechanism that conserves the heat. Shivering is one such process, where involuntary cycle of contraction and relaxation of skeletal muscles can increase the body’s rate of heat production. Its that time of the year when people tend to get sick because the climate outdoor is very cold and harsh, meaning there is high vulnerability of getting flu.
There are certain foods also that will keep you warm during winters and other than that will help you boost your immunity. Food and nutrition play a great role to get you through the season.
Ghee- Make sure to add ghee to your sabzi. 1 tablespoon everyday will help you stay healthy and warm, it prevents dryness of skin, keeps joints healthy.
Millets- Jowar (Sorghum), makki (Maize), bajra (peral millet), ragi (finger millet) will boost your health. Ragi, great source of fibre, high in calcium (100 gms = 344 mgs of calcium), great for skin, hair and weight loss.
Green leafy vegetables- Spinach (palak), methi (fenugreek), sarsoon (mustard). Rich in vitamins and minerals, loaded with antioxidants, low in calories. Eating a diet rich in these can offer numerous health benefits.
Fruits- locally grown fruits should be consumed. Have fruits that are seasonal because they are naturally ripen, fresh, taste better. They lose their nutrition value the longer they are stored. Citrus fruits during winter, help boost your immune system, rich in antioxidants which delay or prevent the damage caused by free radicles. Include oranges, amla (vitamin C of 1 amla is equivalent to vitamin C of 2 oranges), grapefruit in your diet.
Jaggery- It is a superfood during winter season. Add chemical free jaggery to your tea and desserts. Consume it after your meals, great source of fibre and has a mild laxative effect, detoxifies the liver and is a great source of zinc and selenium. 1 teaspoon of jaggery in warm water is great for dry throat.
Nuts and seeds- Almonds, walnuts, cashew, peanuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds etc. great sources of omega 3, unsaturated fatty acids. Jaggery along with peanuts and til (sesame seeds) is another powerful combination during winter season.
Include ginger, garlic and turmeric in your daily diet- Garlic is great for people suffering from cholesterol. Garlic and ginger both have anti inflammatory properties. Add it to your morning cup of tea (Indian chai) along with other ingredients like tulsi, mulethi, turmeric, black pepper, cardamom, cloves.Tip here is- turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which doesn’t get absorbed in our body without the presence of piperine which is present in black pepper.
Sweet potato: Sweet potato (shakarkandi) is a winter food. Grab a few sweet potatoes, boil and make chaat, great source of vitamin A and C, rich in iron, potassium, magnesium
Some of the winter smoothie recipes
Papaya Turmeric smoothie: almond milk (use 10-15 overnight soaked almonds and water). To this add half cup papaya, add a pinch of fresh turmeric (haldi root) and pinch of black pepper.
Soup- Soup is a great way to add more fibre to your winter diet, green beans, lentils, whole grains, veggies. To this add a source of lean protein like chicken breast. It is one of the best way to stay on track for weight watchers.
Vitamin D- Limited daylight hours and less time spent outdoors, most of us aren’t absorbing the much-needed sunlight, a great source of vitamin D. Include foods like salmon, top dietary source of Vitamin D and omega -3 fatty acids.
Cold weather is particularly dangerous for older people and those with chronic health conditions including heart and respiratory problems. To keep healthy during the winter season, ensure that you and your family eat and exercise regularly to keep energy levels up. Nutrition focuses on how people can use the dietary choices to reduce the risk of diseases, what happens with too much or too little of any nutrient. Its very important to maintain a right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water. Diseases linked to diet and lifestyle have increased. Hence, it’s important to pay attention to what we put in our system.
The author is Internationally Certified Coach (ACE)