Up your winter defence through healthy food

CE speaks with nutritionists to figure out the best foods to keep us warm and immune this winter season, not only due to the shivering cold but also for protection from the new Covid-19 variant
Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.

HYDERABAD: Winter this year is making us all shiver a lot more than usual, with temperatures dropping down to 10 degrees in some areas of the city. Also, the new Covid-19 variant, JN.1 requires us to be vigilant and careful. Keeping these dual challenges this season, we ask experts about the kinds of food we can consume to keep ourselves warm and healthy. Also, some of the items they mentioned can help boost immunity. Take a look.

“Winter months crave for warmth. The body’s metabolic rate increases and so does the appetite. It requires energy and dense foods along with antioxidants to boost the immunity. During winter, skin and hair also become dull and the body becomes more lethargic. Joints tend to be more stiff and laziness may not allow us to go to the gym or focus on our regular physical activity,” said Dr K Sowmya, Sr Dietician, Apollo Hospitals, Secunderabad. She highlighted that hydration is very important.

Drinking warm soups, and vegetable juices or sipping rasam could be the best methods to hydrate ourselves. Omega 3-rich foods help to keep the skin moist and healthy. Fish, walnuts, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds should be included in the diet regularly. Also, the vitamins C, E, and A act as immunity boosting nutrients, considering more people tend to catch winter colds and infections. She also mentioned that oranges, guavas, carrots, sweet potatoes, nuts, and oil seeds can help us meet our antioxidant requirements.

Adding to the suggestions made by Dr Sowmya, Dr Jaheerunnisha, Consultant Nutritionist, Renova Hospitals, Kompally, said that our body metabolism, energy, and even our food preferences change during the winter season. “The secret in winter to stay healthy is winterising your diets with warm foods, which give you energy and immunity to fight common diseases. We can opt for roots and tubers like sweet potato, onion, garlic, ginger, potatoes, yam, and colacasi. Include hot soups made of ginger, pepper, and your choice of vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and corn. Energize your day with some porridge and some seeds, nuts, and some fruits as toppings. Include some protein-rich foods such as eggs, milk, cheese, yogurts, and white meats. Do not forget to take your seasonal fruits like oranges, custard apples, papaya, and guavas which are rich sources of B and C vitamins which help you to stay healthy and fit,” she said.

To boost one’s immunity, a balanced diet is important. “Consuming foods that are rich in vitamins C and B can help you fight Covid-19. Include more greens, roots, and tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams. Try to consume immunity-boosting drinks like cinnamon water with pepper, lemon, and honey in the morning on an empty stomach to boost your metabolism.

Eat only hot and freshly cooked foods, and avoid refrigerated and junk foods which may bring your system down. Take golden milk at bedtime, i.e. milk with turmeric. Include nonvegetarian foods at least twice a week because they are rich in zinc. Include nuts and seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds as evening snacks to boost your immunity. Add at least one egg per day that will add enough proteins to fight against Covid-19. If you are a vegetarian, include whole pulses and legumes like chana, rajma, soybeans, lobia, sprouts, etc. in your diet. Keep your body hydrated, drink at least three liters of water every day,” Dr Jaheerunnisha said.

G Sushma, Clinical Dietician, CARE Hospitals, Banjara Hills, shared that including superfoods such as citrus fruits, garlic, ginger, broccoli, spinach, yogurt, nuts, and seeds can help us boost immunity this winter. “Include a variety of these superfoods in your meals to ensure a diverse range of nutrients. Consider incorporating them into smoothies, salads, or snacks. Choose whole, minimally processed foods for maximum nutritional benefits,” she said.

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