The air is crisp, the mornings are dark and summer is just a distant memory. Winter is the season we find ourselves curled up with hot chocolate, indulging in heavy meals and we are much more likely to turn our backs on exercise. As the cold weather often makes us vulnerable to the winter flu, it is important to nourish our body with the right nutrients. Fill your kitchen with heart warming essentials to help boost your immune system and combat the urge to overindulge. A strong immune system means you’ll spend more time feeling amazing and be ready to tackle any challenges the cold season may bring.
GET YOUR VITAMIN D
Whilst the temperature drop does mean no more shorts, sunny days with ice cream or Sunday picnics, it also means that we’re at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency. Most of us should actually consider supplementing with Vitamin D in the winter. However, to up your intake naturally; ensure you stock your cupboards with the few food sources which contain this vital vitamin. Salmon, eggs, mushrooms and some fortified foods are the best sources. In an ideal world, you would be consuming around 2 portions of oily fish weekly, as well as servings of mushrooms and eggs.
Plant based eating is extremely popular and whilst there are huge benefits to eating vegan, it’s important you are not missing out on crucial nutrients. During the winter our immune system can struggle, so we need to support it where we can. Selenium is a great way of doing this as it’s a potent antioxidant. Selenoproteins (proteins which contain trace amounts of selenium) play a key role in boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation. Selenium is predominantly found in meat and fish although you can get smaller amounts in some soy products, beans and Brazil nuts.
SAY YES TO GREEN TEA
Green tea contains ECGC a type of catechin which has high antioxidant activities to help support your immune system. Green tea also possesses an amino acid called L-theanine which slows down the release of caffeine and stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA creates a calming affect on the brain, meaning you don’t get the same post caffeine slump as you do with coffee. Although, green tea does contain caffeine and shouldn’t really be consumed after 2pm as the caffeine can interfere with your sleep, it is a welcome alternative.
GET CREATIVE WITH ROOT VEGETABLES
There’s a reason parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and all the starchy vegetables are in season in the winter. They’re loaded with vitamin C and vitamin A to support our immune when it’s at its weakest. Use your cosy Sunday afternoons to roast, mash or steam some of these veg so you have them ready for the week. Don’t be afraid to adapt your regular recipes. Butternut squash and sweet potato work perfectly as a Shepherd’s pie topping, carrots and parsnips are great for adding to fish cakes or vegan burgers. A personal favourite of mine is spicy carrot and ginger soup in the winter.