Winter Health – keeping our bodies nourished and vibrant this winter. By Sarah Jackson.
It is that wonderful time of year again where cosying up in front of the fire, going on long frosty walks and tucking into heart-warming food is getting us ready for Christmas! The cold weather is officially here and with those dark nights drawing in it can be difficult to keep the body nourished, especially with takeaways and junk foods being the easier option. Winter can also bring an increased risk of catching the common cold or even suffering from the flu. That is why it is even more important in these months to keep the body nourished and strong to help boost the immune system. So, here are some of my top tips for winter health this year.
During the winter months you may not feel as thirsty as you do on those hot summer days but keeping hydrated is just as important. It is recommended that people have at least 6-8 cups of water every day, more for people who are very active. Hydration is key to ensuring our body can function properly. Fluids help to transfer nutrients around the body to the cells, tissues and organs, they also help with regulating temperature and removing waste products that are passed in the urine. Water is the preferred liquid for hydration, however, tea, coffee and juices also count!
Fruit and Vegetables
Winter is the perfect time to stock up on fruit and vegetables, whether they be fresh or frozen they all count towards our recommended five a day. Fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants that can help support our immune system. There are so many ways to get those extra vegetables in to help with our winter health, with great dishes such as homemade soups, curries and stews warming us up from the inside out as well as nourishing our bodies on these colder days.
Vitamin D is also known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin due to most of our intake being from the glorious sun. Vitamin D is made under our skin when we are in the sunlight and although we call it a vitamin it is a hormone that we make in our body. However, in the winter months the sunlight is not strong enough to make enough vitamin D in the skin. In a recent report, Public Health England (PHE) updated its guidance for our recommended daily intake of 5 micrograms (µg) to increase to 10µg. Vitamin D is important to support the immune system’s response to infection. Therefore PHE now recommends that during the winter months (October to March in the UK) supplements should be considered to aid with Vitamin D intake. For more information always speak to a GP or registered dietitian or nutritionist.
If you are a breakfast lover then good news: the NHS recommends starting your day with a wholesome breakfast, especially in the winter. With porridge being a perfect warming breakfast to wake up to try adding different flavours so it doesn’t get boring. Cinnamon, fruit, honey and nuts are great ways to add more flavours, textures and even contributing to your five a day at the same time, as well as helping you boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre. Oats also contain lots of vital vitamins and minerals and may help you feel fuller for a little longer throughout the morning.
Not only does exercise keep our heart healthy, but in the dark, gloomy months where all we may want to do is hibernate, exercise can also work wonders for winter health. Exercise can make you feel more energetic and evidence shows there is a link between physical activity and good mental wellbeing. However, don’t feel you need to be rushing to the gym every morning: increasing your exercise may just be adding a little more movement into your daily routine by getting off the bus a stop before you need to, parking a little further away from the office or, of course, starting or finishing your day with a little extra yoga practice.
Find out more about nutrition with Sarah Jackson – nutribloom.co.uk
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