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As the chilly weather rolls in, it’s time to start taking extra precautions to keep yourself in tip-top health this season. Since calories are heat-inducing, you tend to eat more to stay warm. Exercising also seems out of the question when it’s so cold and gloomy outside. While it’s tempting to stay bundled up indoors with a bowl of your favorite holiday sweets or comfort food, you’re not doing your immune system any favors.
As you spend more time indoors around more people and even more germs, you’re putting yourself at a greater risk for becoming sick. This doesn’t have to be the case! If you’re mindful of boosting immunity through a nutrient-rich diet, you can outsmart the dreaded cold and flu season. Keeping your body active and well-nourished during the winter is the key!
Boost Mood First
You can’t motivate yourself to stay healthy when you’re not in the mood. With less sunlight, we tend to feel blue, so get bundled up and get outside as much as possible during daylight hours. Not only are you basking in the sunlight, but you’re also stretching your legs. On days when you can’t get outdoors, try pulling back the curtains and rolling up the shades to let the sunlight in. You’ll be surprised by how much better you’ll feel!
Lack of sunlight can lead to cravings due to your need for serotonin, which helps regulate your mood, energy, and appetite. With that being said, you can also get serotonin through your diet. Boost your meals with healthy foods like whole grains, Greek yogurt, bananas, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and other foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates. They’ll provide your body with energy and improve your mood.
Eat for Immunity
Adding more vitamin C-rich foods to your diet is one way to give your immune system a mighty boost. Studies show that supplementing with vitamin C over the winter may help reduce cold symptoms and even duration. Increase your intake of vitamin C with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits, cabbage, broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potato, and spinach.
Increasing zinc intake through your diet can also help strengthen your immune system. Foods that are rich in zinc include fish, oysters, poultry, eggs, milk, whole grains, and cereals. In addition to vitamin C and zinc, probiotics can also help boost good bacteria in your gut while protecting your body from infections. Such foods include fermented products like kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut. Talk to your physician or registered dietitian about taking a probiotic supplement during the winter months.
Sipping on tea is another immunity-building winter habit. Not only will it warm you up, it’s also high in polyphenols that work to combat viruses.
While there’s no cure for the common cold or flu, you can still stop them in their tracks by maintaining a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that promotes a strong immune system. Ward off diseases by giving any of our immunity-boosting recipes a try, filling your plates with fruits and vegetables, and staying physically active. Don’t let the chilly and gloomy weather get in the way of your health this season!