When I think of winter I think of bonfire nights, wellies, hot water bottles, Christmas socks and massive jumpers. As a lover of nutrition, I think of roast dinners with lots of seasonal veg, soups and lots and lots of bone broth!
Here are my top tips for surviving winter:
1. Soups & Stews
Often the immune system is low in the winter so easy to digest soups and stews may just be exactly what you need in order to pack in nutrients, warm our bellies and give digestion a helping hand. Bone broths are an excellent way to support your immune system with gut restoring action. If you struggle to find hot food for work, batch cooking, and a trusty thermal flask is great way to warm up your lunchtimes.
2. Herbal teas
If not just to keep you hands warm, herbal teas do wonders for keeping you hydrated during the winter. Lemon & ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, peppermint, echinacea and lemon balm are some lovely choices.
3. Warming Foods
In Chinese medicine, winter is a time of yin, so must be balanced with the warming foods of yang. Seasonal root vegetables like cabbage, carrots, sprouts, squash, sweet potatoes, beets and parsnips can all be a great way to add nutritious warmth to your meals. Keeping our immune system strong is crucial for getting through winter. Including warming garlic in cooking can increase anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity. Where there is inflammation, there is oxidation, so using turmeric and ginger are great anti-inflammatory herbs to include in cooking, smoothies and stews.
Suddenly, getting up at 6am to go to the gym or for a run on a dark, freezing cold winter morning doesn’t seem so appealing! No need to worry, yoga from the comfort of your home can help to keep you moving and mindful. Wrapping up warm and taking a walk through the countryside will keep your cardiovascular system pumping and your muscles moving.
England has it’s pros and cons, and a con would certainly be the lack of sun; especially during the winter! Be sure to check your vitamin D status (25-hydroxyvitamin D) and top up your levels as *vitamin D* contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system. Vitamin D has been recognised to support against colds and the flu.
6. Protect your skin
During the winter, the immune system works hard to fight off infections. In this season, the air is dry and cold and therefore will hinder the effects of our first line of defence, allowing viruses and bacteria to easily invade. Dry mucous membranes in cold noses can leave a weakened defence against bacteria, causing those nasty winter colds. It’s tempting to turn the shower temperature up and run a hot bath, but these can be drying and damaging to the skin. Be sure to wrap up warm, use moisturisers with natural ingredients and drink plenty of water.