What to eat during winter to avoid getting sick?
Cold, wind, snow, plus lack of energy to act and constant infections – all those things make integral attributes of winter. Indeed, during the colder months it is much easier to catch cold or flu, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept that and not even try to fight that tendency. That’s because it can all be blamed on lowered immunity, which is something we can or even should strengthen.
Why is our immunity weaker and we get sick more during winter? It turns out that the cause is not lower temperatures, but changes in the lifestyle. Cold and lack of light are not very optimistic, and don’t encourage to cultivate healthy habits, either. Instead of activity outside, we choose lying under blanket, and instead of healthy salads we prefer more filling, but also much heavier and more fattening dishes. Much limited access to sun rays naturally lowers our energy level and mood. We feel sleepy, tired, sad and stressed. We often deal with bad well-being by „comfort eating” chips, fast food and candy as well as use alcohol to boost our mood. We forget that this kind of lifestyle only brings a temporary improvement of well-being, but overall it is very harmful for us. It is bad diet with not enough nutrients, stimulants (such as alcohol, cigarettes or coffee), stress and fatigue that make our immunity worse. Which is only a step away from catching infections all the time.
The first rule of healthy eating (especially during winter) is having a nutritious breakfast every day. Plenty of people complain about lack of time and appetite right after getting out of bed, so instead of sitting down at the table and having a balanced meal, they substitute it with a coffee they have in rush, which is seemingly to wake them up. In reality, for a proper functioning of all cells in our body we need energy and nutrients, which can’t be found in a cup of that beverage. Breakfast is a signal to wake our entire body for work – including battling potential microorganisms. Besides, having a breakfast boosts our metabolism, so that we don’t feel as cold after leaving the house.
We should combine avoiding infections with avoiding bacteria. But they can be divided into good ones and bad ones. It’s a good idea to use products that equip our body with beneficial bacterial cultures, such as i.e. yogurts. It’s a good idea to pay attention to the whey that sometimes collects on the surface of a yogurt – it contains a lot of proteins, which is crucial in building our immunity. Instead of dumping it in the sink, we should stir it with the rest of the product.
There are several elements that show especially positive influence in this area, as they increase the number of antibodies and halt the reproduction of pathogenic microorganisms. Among them are i.e. selenium, zinc and iron. Some people take those ingredients in form of pills, but it is a much better idea to eat food that is rich in them, as in order for them to get absorbed properly, they need the presence of other elements. For that reason, it’s a good idea to eat nuts during winter, especially Brazilian ones (it is interesting that one such nut satisfies our daily need for selenium), sunflower seeds, sprouts, lean meat, fishes and legumes. It is worth noting that for iron to be absorbed, vitamin C is also required, therefore meat has to be eaten combined with a raw salad, parsley or a glass of citrus fruit juice.
Another thing we should not forget about is vitamins. When it comes to veggies there is one rule: the more the better, but the most vitamins are contained in the veggies that are… the most colorful. The leaders here are, among others, pumpkin, paprika or tomatoes. The vitamin C which is significant for immunity can be found in things like wild rose fruits, black currant, parsley leaves, sea buckthorn, red pepper, Brussels sprouts, horseradish, spinach, sauerkraut and kiwi fruits. Vitamins A can be provided by tomatoes, cabbage, paprika, carrot, broccoli, apricots, liver and dairy products. Among sources of vitamins B are bean, sprouts, dairy, poultry, fishes, beef, seeds and nuts. On the other hand, vitamin D can be found in fishes such as herring, mackerel or salmon, as well as liver oil. It’s a good idea to especially pay attention to replenishing the level of this vitamin, as during winter we are especially exposed to its deficiencies due to the limited access to sunlight. During the colder seasons it is sometimes difficult to find high quality, tasty veggies and fruits, so we can substitute them with preserves and frozen food. They have similar nutritional value as long as we prepare them properly.
Another good thing to boost immunity is our grandmas’ remedies, such as eating raw garlic or honey, which is known for plenty of healing properties that can’t be overstated. However, it is not enough to use it temporarily – it gives much better results when eaten regularly. One has to remember, though, that for honey to really work as a natural vaccine, it can’t be exposed to very high temperatures, like by dissolving it in boiling water.