It’s winter. It’s cold outside, and the farmers’ markets are no longer bursting with colorful, fresh produce. While it’s easy to fill your diet with delicious local veggies in the spring and summer months, it may seem like more of a challenge in the winter when fewer fresh foods are in season. Combine that with the cold, dry weather and lack of natural light — not to mention the feeling that everyone around you is getting sick — and you can imagine why it’s especially important to load up on nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to keep your immune system strong. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay fit during the winter.
Read on for a few simple, easy ideas on how to up the ante on healthy eating in the cold and dreary winter months.
Winter squash and root vegetables are generally available during the winter months in cold climates when other vegetables may not be, and they tend to be inexpensive. When you eat produce that’s naturally available, your body is more in harmony with nature’s tools for immune-strengthening. Soups and stews are great because they are warming, grounding, and comforting to the body, while allowing you to really pack in the nutrient-dense vegetables. Try kabocha or butternut squash and root veggies like carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, and beets. Making a hearty soup or stew in a slow cooker can be an easy and delicious way to have a hot meal ready for you at the end of the day.
Add In Herbs And Spices
There are many herbs, spices, and condiments that have immune-boosting effects. Some of the best and tastiest include garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne. These spices will allow you to add bold flavors to your meals and reap the nutritional benefits at the same time. Garlic, for instance, has antibiotic and antiviral properties — it’s great to eat when you start to feel a bit under the weather. Cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric are warming spices with powerful anti-inflammatory properties that are the perfect boost for your body in the winter months. Try drinking ginger tea, sprinkling cinnamon into your oatmeal, or adding a pinch of cayenne or turmeric into a stir-fry.
Don’t Skimp On The D
Vitamin D is involved in making enzymes and proteins that are crucial for maintaining health and preventing disease. There only two reliable sources of vitamin D: the sun and supplements. Between heavy sunscreen and long work hours, it can be tricky to get enough vitamin D on even the sunniest summer days; in the winter, most people who live in the northern hemisphere aren’t getting nearly enough, to be sure! I recommend everyone take a quality vitamin D3 supplement to boost their levels. It fights inflammation, boosts the immune system function, and can even help lift your mood.
Keep Yourself Hydrated From The Inside Out
Don’t underestimate how important it is to stay well-hydrated during the winter months. In general, water is necessary to flush out toxins, remove waste from the body, facilitate digestion, and carry nutrients to the proper cells and organs so you feel your best. Between the cold air outside in the winter and the heat blasting inside, it’s easy to dry out — which makes good hydration habits even more important. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and weakness in the body, so make sure to drink plenty of water, and consider taking a fish oil supplement if you tend to have dry skin.
Photographed by Maria del Rio
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