Winter brings all kinds of challenges with it. Those who suffer from asthma find the smog suffocating. Those who have low immunity catch all kinds of viral infections, particularly flu. People with poor circulation and low vitality feel colder. Somehow, even those layers of warm clothing don’t seem to do the trick. The secret is to eat and drink things which make you feel warmer by stimulating your circulation and raise your immunity levels to fight off infections.
One of the greatest risks of winter is surprisingly weight gain, all of which can’t be due to the extra clothing you need to wear. People often feel hungrier in winter as the body tries to cope with the dipping mercury and slack metabolism. Most of the seasonal fruits and vegetables easily available in winter are carbohydrate-rich as nature endeavors to provide with you natural heating. Cauliflowers, carrots, and beetroots are excellent sources of nutrition if taken in moderate quantities. Add them to gravies, broths, and soups, especially if you don’t eat non-vegetarian foods like poultry, red meat, fish, or eggs. Since soups are eaten hot, they automatically warm your body even when they contain only tomato extract and corn flour.
Tea in most forms fights common colds, especially if it is infused with ginger juice, lemon juice, or garam masala. Other options include adding a bay leaf or mint leaf to milk tea to fight those sniffles. It comes as no surprise that Iceland and Finland are two of the biggest consumers of coffee, since a steaming hot cup of coffee not only stimulates your circulation, thereby making you feel warmer; it is also full of antioxidants so necessary to rid your system of free radicals. However, if you are hypertensive, keep a watch on the number of cups of coffee you drink in a day. Further, both tea and coffee can potentially increase your woes if you have malfunctioning kidneys.
It is common enough to have fists full of roasted peanuts, or peanuts coated with gur (jaggery) locally called gurpatti or chikki in winter to increase body warmth naturally. However, check out whether you are allergic to peanuts or til (sesame seeds) before digging in. Further, eating soya saag in winter is a common practice in north India. Keep in mind that soy, wheat, nuts like cashew, almonds, and walnuts; milk; vegetables like brinjal; eggs, shellfish, and fish like bass and flounder can cause severe allergies in any season. Somehow, it seems to get worse in winter.
Mushrooms provide you with selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines to fight sickness. They also help your body identify and destroy infections by providing you with beta glucan, an antimicrobial fiber. However, mushrooms that haven’t been cleaned properly can cause serious illness too.
If you were told that you are feeling blue without reason, know that it is normal to feel depressed in the winter, partly because the sun plays truant. Fight those wintry megrims with foods that cheer you by releasing the serotonin in your brain. These include poultry meats; walnuts in moderation; whole grains like oatmeal and corn on the cob; fatty fish (which incidentally also reduce inflammations); low-fat dairy products like cottage cheese and yogurt; and dark chocolate which work wonders for the uplifting of spirits and mood.
Garlic,heeng (asafetida), turmeric, ginger, lemon juice, chili peppers, black pepper, cinnamon, bay leaf, long pepper, cloves, and black cardamom are extremely useful seasonings to use during winter. They not only enhance the taste of the food but work wonders to fight seasonal ailments like common colds and influenza. Of these, garlic and turmeric are natural antibiotics. Ginger, cinnamon, heeng,cloves, and turmeric are natural painkillers.Heeng and ginger stimulate the circulation and improve the digestion. Strangely enough, winter does throw the digestive system into disarray which can be warded off by adding cumin, ginger, black pepper, and heeng to various kinds of food.
Many people assume that sniffles and sneezes are part of the course in winter. Don’t let them set in, or ignore them after they set in. Before you realize it, these could easily deteriorate into pneumonia. Citrus fruits like oranges, mandarins, grapes, sweet lime, lemons, and avocados are rich in vitamin C which not only improve your immunity but also provide you with much-needed antioxidants to keep you young longer.
Greens like spinach, sarson ka saag, bathua, cabbages, peas, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli are rich in various kinds of vitamins which increase your inner vitality while increasing your resistance to infections.
So, make wise food choices, and enjoy the blessings of winter fully.