Winter is finally here. So, while you put the scorching summers behind and relish the breeze and the chill, you must also attend to your body and give it the warmth to sustain this cold weather. Otherwise, you may have to spend the winters recuperating from cold-borne diseases.
Why? That’s because when the Celsius dips, your metabolism slows down to retain energy and keep you warm. That is also why one feels lethargic during the winters. But there’s no reason to worry, for we bring you a list of healthy foods that will conserve your energy and get you through the chilly winters:
Honey is a superfood if there ever was one, and it provides warmth to your body if taken regularly. That’s precisely why excessive consumption of honey is not advisable during summers. Honey boosts immunity too, which helps keep flu and regular cough and cold at bay.
So, go ahead and make a concoction of lukewarm water and honey early in the morning. You can also take a spoonful of it daily and experience the trove of benefits it has to offer.
Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, turnip, and radish help keep your body warm, considering these take time to digest, generating more heat in the process. You can enjoy these vegetables in your regular salad or make a warm soupy broth.
Sesame seeds are replete in calcium and iron that help to strengthen muscles and bones. You can make jaggery and sesame balls and have one every day to stay warm and energized. Otherwise, you can also soak a handful of sesame seeds in water overnight and consume them the next morning.
Trivia: Eating foods cooked in sesame seed oil serves to regulate your body’s temperature during winter.
There’s a reason why your mother lathers the rotis with ghee during winter. The fat from desi ghee is easily digestible, providing your body the much-needed warmth. That’s not it. Ghee also helps digestion, keeps constipation at bay, and boosts the body’s immune functions to prevent the common cold and flu.
Tip: Adding a few drops of desi ghee in your vegetables and dal (pulses) will not only make it delicious but also provide excellent health benefits. You can also cook all your foods in moderate amounts of ghee.
Rightly labelled a ‘wonder fruit,’ bananas are loaded with magnesium and Vitamin B, which maintain your adrenal and thyroid glands that help regulate your body temperature. Besides, bananas are also touted to offer significant benefits for your mood and cognitive abilities.
Nothing beats the deliciousness of jaggery (or gur) after you’ve had a hearty winter meal. According to health experts, jaggery is one of the best digestives out there that packs a range of other benefits.
Rich in Vitamin C and iron, gur has always been used as a traditional remedy for sore throat and minor respiratory distress. Jaggery is a healthier alternative to white (refined) sugar. You can use in a variety of Indian desserts to step up the health and taste quotient at the same time.
A few essential minerals present in jaggery include phosphorus, selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron, and potassium. These, in combination with gur’s antioxidants, boost immune functions, helping your body fight everyday diseases.
Jaggery relieves throat irritation and reduces dryness by creating a soothing and protective sheath on the throat. Regular jaggery intake dilates the throat’s blood vessels and betters blood flow, thereby promoting warmth in your respiratory tract. It is advisable to combine gur with ginger to experience the best results.
The thermogenic properties of ginger help keep you energized and warm during the winters. This modest spice has other benefits as well – it promotes blood circulation and boosts metabolism, factors that ensure you stay in the best of health. Brew yourself some hot ginger tea early in the morning, and you should be good to go.
All the non-vegetarians out there have plenty to dig into year-round. However, it is during winter that consuming goat meat, pork, or lamb is extra beneficial. Why? That’s because red meat is loaded with iron, a vital mineral that aids blood flow throughout the body.
People suffering from iron deficiency anaemia may feel tired at the slightest of exhaustion or experience cold limbs, especially during winter. So, eating red meat can help.
Also, red meat is an excellent source of vitamin B12 that is vital for immunity and functioning of the nervous system.
Dry fruits such as cashew, almonds, and raisins produce more body heat. They can also cure diseases like anemia that result from a deficiency of vitamins and iron. The best part of eating dry fruits? They are super easy to include in your diet – make yourself a dry fruit salad or have them in your glass of milk.
The most easily available (and affordable) superfood, eggs are a powerhouse of energy and pack numerous benefits for your health. It is no surprise, considering eggs are loaded with vitamins, protein, and ‘good’ cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL), which help keep your body warm without affecting liver functioning in any way.
Tulsi is a wonder herb and with good reason. The medicinal properties are well documented, and its vitamin A, C, iron, and zinc contents prepare your body to ward off diseases like cough, cold, respiratory distress, and sinus. Simply chew a few tulsi leaves raw to help strengthen your immune functions.
In Chinese medicine, onions have been traditionally used as ‘Chi’ (an energizing tonic) that helps increase perspiration, thereby keeping your body warm to fight cold weather better. Make yourself some delicious French onion soup and combine it with fried croutons and grated cheese.
Consuming grains like bajra and amaranth will make you feel comfortably warm. Instead of rice, you can have this grain for lunch or make a delectable amaranth cereal with honey and winter berries.
Also, millets like ragi and bajra will help you feel satiated and energized on days when you’d otherwise feel sluggish. These foods rank high on the energy meter and primarily contain large amounts of starch, which takes a long time to get digested, producing energy over a prolonged period.
Mustard, be it as mustard seeds, oil, or fresh mustard leaves, is warm in nature. Thanks to its thermogenic properties, mustard, when consumed, begins to generate heat in a gradual yet steady manner. Through generations, Indian households have resorted to massages with mustard oil to stay cozy and warm during winters.
Sweet potatoes and various other root vegetables take more energy and time to move through the process of digestion, something that elevates your body temperature. Besides being packed with generous amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and potassium, sweet potatoes are an excellent fiber source and add all the necessary nutrients to your winter meal.
Further, studies show that sweet potatoes offer significant benefits for your eye health as well.
Remember, water is our wonder liquid and with good reason. Staying hydrated helps your body maintain its temperature, which is extremely crucial, particularly during winter. You are less likely to drink adequate water when it is cold outside, but this can result in dehydration, causing the body’s core temperature to fall below normal, leading to hypothermia.
The trick is to carry a water bottle with you always so that it serves as a constant reminder.
And lastly, remember the three tenets of living a healthy life, no matter the season – eat well, sleep tight, and exercise regularly.