10 food tips to keep you warm
Here’s how to replenish your body with warm winter delicacies
It’s a new year, a time to say goodbye to the past decade and start afresh. We cannot go back in time and change what happened, however, it has added valuable lessons. With the virus still around, one of our New Year’s resolutions would be to restart our health and stay in shape. And how can you best start a healthy diet with winter foods and great weather for physical activity.
Winters aren’t just for enjoying bonfires and sipping hot chocolate, but also for keeping our immunity strong to ward off ailments like colds, flu, and the microbial infections that come with this weather. Hence, it would be wise to replenish our body with nutritious foods rich in all the essential nutrients.
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While all foods produce heat during digestion, some foods take longer to digest, raise our body temperature, and warm us up. Foods high in complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats heat the body more, which means they burn more calories during the digestion process. This is called thermogenesis. A mixed diet can induce an energy expenditure of 5 to 15% of the daily energy expenditure.
In addition, each food has an innate characteristic “Virya” based on which it acts differently inside our body. There is a misconception that hot soup warms our body and refrigerated food is cold. The point is, the potency of food has no relation to the ambient temperature of the food. For example, an ice cream will induce heat in the body, even if its temperature is cold.
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Let’s take a look at some foods that will boost your metabolism and keep you warm inside out.
1. Root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, radishes, beets are naturally hot. These vegetables require more energy during the digestion process causing a rise in body temperature. In addition, they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
2. Green leafy vegetables are available fresh during the winter. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They help reduce the risk of chronic degenerative diseases, improve blood circulation, and have anti-inflammatory properties and help regulate blood sugar. Therefore, try it in larger quantities, have at least 4-5 servings or 500g of vegetables (greens and roots) every day in your meals (cooked or fresh).
3. Herbs and spices like black pepper, fenugreek, ajwain, ginger, garlic, dill, cumin help fight cough and flu, stimulate appetite and digestion and increase blood circulation.
According to Ayurveda, holy basil (tulsi) helps the body fight all respiratory disorders and is also an antiseptic and antimicrobial agent.
Likewise, curcumin, an active compound found in turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant and helps fight oxidative damage and boost our immune function. So stop bothering when your mom asks you to have a glass of hot Haldiwala dudh at bedtime.
Ginger is a natural diaphoretic (which keeps your body warm inside). It increases blood circulation and can stimulate thermogenesis. Garlic contains allicin (a compound containing sulfur) which has immune, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
4. Have at least two fruits everyday. There is a common myth that avoiding citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and guava during winters because they are considered cold foods and can cause coughs and colds. The point is, these are rich in vitamin C, which increases nutrient absorption, strengthens the immune system, and eventually helps treat coughs and colds. Bananas are also considered a hot food according to Ayurveda. It is rich in B vitamins and magnesium which help the glands to regulate body temperature. Therefore, do not avoid bananas during winters.
5. Dals and legume foods like khichdi, bisibelle rice, lentil soup, moong dal halwa are winter delicacies rich in protein, fiber and minerals. Proteins take longer to digest, which increases thermogenesis. Include at least 2 servings of protein source each day.
6. Ragi mudde, bajra, and make ki roti provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, and minerals like magnesium that help prevent cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure and heart attacks that are more frequent in winter.
7. Nuts and oilseeds like sesame, peanuts, almonds, dates, fenugreek seeds are rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and fiber. Tilchikki, laddu peanut, barfi dates, methipak are all foods that boost immunity and increase metabolism. Have a handful of nuts every day, which is 20g (make this a mid-morning snack).
8. Ayurveda advises to pour ghee to rice and khichadi and even to your winter sweets as it helps digestion, adding healthy fats to the body.
9. Iced coffee the cup of tea can keep you warm. Do not let yourself be meditated. It is not the temperature of the coffee but the caffeine that raises your body temperature by stimulating the metabolism.
10. Stay hydrated to stay warm. Water helps regulate your core temperature while alcohol impairs the body’s ability to raise body temperature in cold weather. Therefore, avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water even if you are not thirsty.
Remember that all seasonal and local produce meets the needs of that particular season. Balancing your diet is the key to good health. Therefore, be sure to add all of the seasonal produce (fruits, vegetables, grains, millets, and legumes) in the correct portions on your Thali each day.
(The author is a nutrition expert from Arogya World’s MyThali program)