Winter brings with it the holiday season, a cozy and lazy feeling and a sense of heaviness with the change in temperature. But it also brings along a few health problems due to the harsh weather conditions. In order to withstand the adverse effects of the season, we should take great care of our body. To do so, it is important to switch up our diet accordingly. Such modification is necessary to keep a balance and prevent ourselves from getting sick. The following are five foods to include in your daily diet this winter for a healthier body.
1. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are well known for the abundance of vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, it is essential for keeping your immune system healthy and for maintaining the elasticity of your skin. Our bodies cannot make vitamin C and so it must come from the foods we eat. Apart from citrus fruits, it is present in strawberries, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and bell peppers (red and green).
Many believe that its consumption can help reduce the frequency of colds. However, there is no scientific evidence stating that vitamin C prevents colds. But researchers say that regular intake of vitamin C can reduce the severity and length of cold symptoms by one or one-and-a-half days. It was discovered that taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C per day reduced the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children, meaning one less day of illness.
You can make hot water and lemon infusion to keep cough and cold at bay. Take a cup of boiling water and squeeze some lemon in it. Add a bit of turmeric, red chili or cayenne, some raw cane sugar and a bit of salt to taste.
Always remember that fruits and vegetables lose vitamin C when heated or stored for long periods of time. Therefore, it is best to eat them as soon as possible after purchase. Steaming or microwaving vegetables for a short period of time reduces nutrient loss.
Due to the chilly cold winter, strength and energy in the body are reduced greatly. Honey is a natural source of carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. It is a great source of energy, reduces muscle fatigue and cures material imbalances in the body. It consists of minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphate, sodium, chlorine, magnesium and potassium.
A study found that honey was effective in relieving coughing in children over the age of 1 year. But it is not advisable for children younger than a year to have honey as there is a risk of infant botulism, a bacterial infection occurring in the large intestine of babies caused by botulinum spores found in honey.
Use honey instead of sugar in your beverages. Try hot turmeric milk to give you a boost of energy and warmth from inside. Take a cup of milk (2 cups of unsweetened almond milk and 1/2 cup coconut milk if you don't prefer milk), add 2 tbsp of raw honey, a teaspoon of ground turmeric, a bit of ground ginger and cinnamon and mix it well or blend it. Heat the mixture on low heat till it comes to the desired temperature and serve immediately. You can also stir some honey in hot water and squeeze a bit of lemon in it to soothe a sore throat or cough.
Holy Basil or Tulasi (also known as Tulsi), is known by many names like 'The Incomparable One', 'The Queen of Herbs', and 'Mother Medicine of Nature', and there's a very good reason for that. Research has revealed that Tulasi has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. It helps in purifying the blood and improves immunity against pathogens responsible for human infections. Hence this magic herb is recommended as a treatment for a range of conditions including cough, sore throat, flu, asthma, fever, indigestion, arthritis and pollution-related respiratory disorders among many others.
Have Tulasi tea to reap the multiple benefits of the miracle herb. Add Tulasi leaves (fresh or dried) to a cup of boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid and wait for 5 minutes. Add honey and milk if desired. Strain and serve immediately.
4. Winter Grains
Paying attention to what you ingest on a daily basis is the best way to fight the most common ailments. In order to improve gut health, start consuming seasonal grains and millets. The idea is to heat your body from within and aid in burning calories. Millets and grains serve that purpose.
Switch up your parathas or rotis to Bajra, Jowar, Makai, foxtail millet and Ragi. Actually, all grains and millets available in the winter season are good for you as they are high in fiber and are low-glycemic. They have a range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals which are essential for our body.
Incorporate millets and grains in your diet in the form of flours. These can be added to your everyday flour or prepare healthy soups or porridges to warm your system. Make a simple dish of foxtail millet porridge. Soak the millet in water for about 30 min, drain the water and add it to milk and cook it on medium heat for 5 min. Once cooked, take it off the stove and add banana, figs and cashew nuts and serve.
India is known for its spices being the heart of Indian cuisine. It gives our food incredible taste while also having unique aromas and vibrant colors. They can be added to dishes and drinks to give you great flavor and the much-needed warmth. The following are a few must-have spices in your kitchen this winter.
* Cinnamon: The first thing that comes to mind when the winter season approaches are cinnamon sticks in tea. This spice consists of an active compound called Cinnamaldehyde that helps the body fight infections and repair tissue damage.
* Cloves: This spice has the strong smell of pepper and can leave a numbing sensation. It is best to use this spice conservatively. Cloves improve blood circulation, clear respiratory passages and maintain a healthy digestive system.
* Ginger: Ginger has a bioactive compound called Gingerol, the source of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It has been used since ancient times to promote digestive health, bloating, nausea, morning sickness, heal pain, and fight cold, cough and flu.
* Black Pepper: This spice has been used since ancient times for improving digestion and losing weight naturally. It is also known to regulate fluid circulation in the body, including keeping a check on the mucus flow in the system. Pepper is one of the main ingredients of Kashayam, a popular dark-colored decoction of herbs and spices made in Indian households to this day. Drinking Kashayam soothes the throat and gives instant relief.
* Cumin Seeds: Cumin seeds have an unmistakable flavor and aroma. They have antiseptic properties and help in curing common colds. It prevents cough from forming and collecting in the respiratory system by drying up the mucous.
The foods mentioned above have been used for ages in Indian households. They help with digestion, fighting cough, cold and flu, and regulate your body among other benefits. What's more, they add different and unique flavors to your food. Ayurveda states that when it is hot, eat foods that cool your body and when it is cold, eat foods to heat your body. Even though it's getting colder, following this winter diet routine or adding these to your existing diet can help you get through the chilly winter with much ease and comfort.
With Inputs from,
Ms. Naazia Kauser
M.Sc-Applied Nutrition and Dietetics