There’s nothing you can do about the weather at this time of year, but eating well can help to boost your responses to it. A good diet can harness your immune system to fight off colds and other viruses that are circulating. It can also top up your body’s levels of vitamin D, which may be low following several months of little sunshine. And the right foods can boost your mood and increase your energy levels.
Here are my 5 top foods to keep you in top form this winter:
Salmon and other oily fish, such as sardines and mackerel are a fantastic source of omega 3 fatty acids. This type of fat plays an important role in the brain and there is evidence of a link between omega 3 deficiency and depression. Other foods that contain good fats, which may be beneficial for boosting mood, are avocadoes, nuts and olive oil.
Wholegrains, such as brown rice contain low GI carbs, which release their energy slowly, B vitamins and magnesium. Eaten at lunch, it can help keep your energy levels constant and avoid the afternoon crash, which can also cause your mood to dip. Magnesium helps the body to relax, especially during stressful times and promotes sleep.
Green leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale are packed with nutrients. They contain high levels of vitamin C and beta carotene, which are great immune boosters, as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium and iodine. Try making a green juice for an instant pick me up. Simply add these ingredients to a blender or juicer:
- 1 apple, peeled and cored
- ½ cucumber
- 3 leaves spinach or kale
- 2 stalks celery
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 1cm piece of fresh ginger
Broccoli is another nutrient packed vegetable, full of antioxidant vitamins to ward off viruses and minerals, such as folate, potassium and magnesium.
The sunshine is not strong enough in this country between October and March for our bodies to produce useful levels of vitamin D, so by this time of year, our stores may be low. Eating foods such as eggs, fish, butter and mushrooms that contain vitamin D can help top up declining levels. Vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system, as does zinc, which is also found in eggs.
If you feel like you may be getting a cold, try making an immune booster juice, either a green juice as above or for something a bit more traditional, juice a large orange, 1/2 small carrot and 1cm piece of fresh ginger.
For an immune booster dinner, try making a stir fry with peppers, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, fresh ginger and chillies topped with chicken or salmon and served with brown rice.