During winter, we like to relax over the holidays, play in the snow and enjoy the chilly weather. All this is subject to us being fit andhealthy and not being down with the seasonal flu, or having a cough, high fever or the painful achy joints.
Winter is the time when the earth is dry, days are short and nights are long. Most people feel sluggish and depressed as we see the sun less.
How do we improve our immunity and keep our joints supple? What foods and lifestyle changes do we need to embrace to keep us healthy andhappy through the winter?
During winters, our digestion is at a peak and is perfect for digesting fats and heavy starches that will nourish us. Even though, doughnuts, french fries, ice creams etc are fatty and starchy, they don’t nourish us . Hence they are not suitable for any season even if they fit into our macros.
Let us look at a few tips and easy ways to improve our energy levels and to keep seasonal depression at bay during the winter:
- Time for Tubers – Just like summer are for fruits, winters are for tubers.
Starches and carbs have got a bad reputation and most ‘Diets’ avoid carbs except for sweet potatoes. There are many different tubers that are native to India and other countries.
Traditionally we have used tubers in several dishes during the winter (like puzhukku that is made in Kerala, thaalaga kozhambu in certain parts of Tamilnadu and Undhiyo that’s made in Gujarat).
- Intensify your physical activity – Double the intensity of your Physical activity during winter whether it is running, hiking, biking,lifting weights, favourite sport or yoga. The reason for this is that in summer we get exhausted or tired soon and the same levels of exertion doesn’t exhaust us but will only energize us in autumn,winter and spring.
- Include more seeds and nuts – Sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, chia and the liks are wonderful to keep our joints, skin, hair and nails healthy in winter. Unsalted nuts are also a rich source of essential fats and minerals like zinc, selenium, magnesium etc that are essential for immunity, blood sugar regulation and hormones.
- Care for the citrus – Nature provides whatever is needed to protect ourselves during that season. When we ignore that and start eating other fancy foods (sometimes in the name of a diet), we weaken our immunity.
Winter is the time for citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, mandarins, gooseberries, guava and other sour fruits that are abundant in Vitamin C.
- Be sweet and spicy– Jaggery is another winter hero as It warms andnourishes the body . It is unrefined, wholesome and also a good source of Iron, phosphorus , potassium and calcium . Stevia extract, time to go back to shelf !!! ( it is still refined and ultra processedwith virtually zero nutrients)
With the falling temperatures, it is natural to yearn for spicy food. Listen to your body and be generous with the spices. Ginger, pepper, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, clove etc helps in improving the digestion and immunity.
- Self indulgence – Give yourself a warm oil massage with sesame or mustard oil and a relaxing bath. Massages are great stressbusters and a nice way of increasing hormones like DHEA , Serotonin and other pleasure hormones which are crucial to keep ourselves stress-free and happy.
- Kiss the Sun – Get whatever little or more, direct sunexposure you can get from where you live. Studies have proven that exposure to Sunlight reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety as it helps in improving Vitamin D levels and serotonin. If you are already deficient in Vitamin D, read this for potential causes.
It is also evident from the fact that we become gloomy when the sky is grey and cloudy. After all we are not peacocks .
Each season comes with its own pros and cons. Winter is the time to rejuvenate metabolism, mind , immunity and use the stillness and chillness to our advantage with the steps mentioned above , rather than be indoors , binge watch and booze.