Muscat: Only a strong immune system can safeguard us from winter ailments, says Jishy Seby, diet consultant at KIMS Oman Hospital.
Chill in the air has marked the onset of winter. If we fail to strengthen our immune system, winter can make us suffer from several health problems, regardless of the age group.
Winter, Seby says, is the time when body needs more energy. It is the time of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is a form of depression, due to lack of serotonin, a mood-enhancing chemical. It regulates hunger and the feeling of well-being.
'"Body warming foods can stabilise the body in freezing winter. One must maintain a healthy diet by including cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and egg in daily diet. Emphasis should also be given on brain boosting foods," Seby said.
Whole grain cereals — wheat and oats — can boost digestion, and of course, health of the heart. Whole grain cereals will help us maintain normal blood sugar levels, and as they are high in vitamin B, brain will get a natural boost.
Apples are great year around. Apples will boost the cardiovascular health and prevents dementia. Oranges are good since it has vitamin C and folate, which strengthens the immunity and mental health. Pineapple and papaya also helps in keeping the body warm along with boosting immunity.
Consuming green vegetables helps in preventing anaemia, which makes many people lethargic during winter. Garlic and ginger will also help to ward off diseases during winter by keeping the body warm. Nuts and seeds are rich source of selenium which is an important nutrient for brain health, these along with dates also act as body warmers.
Chicken is also a body warming food; drinking chicken soup can keep the body warm and helps to ward off cold, cough and fever. Chicken gives us the sufficient protein, vitamin B, niacin and selenium which keep our body fit.
Vitamin D is produced by the body when it is exposed to sunlight and a deficiency of it over the winter months is thought to be one of the causes of SAD. Since fish has relatively high levels of vitamin D, it should be an important part of the diet during winter. Consuming fish will also help to relieve mood disorders by increasing the amount of serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters responsible for the feel good factors in the brain. Omega 3 found in fish is a strong antioxidant and strengthens the immune system.
Eggs are also good choice because of phospholipids and omega 3 fatty acids which allow nutrients to pass into brain more effectively thus helping to keep the memory and brain function sharp. Keeping your body and brain hydrated is very important during winter, since thirst is not much felt during the colder months.
Dark chocolate is also a good option during winter to make you feel better. Drinking basil leaf extract and honey alleviates most of the winter illness like cold, flu and cough.