Nutrition in winter: what is important to know
It is also important that the diet in winter follows a healthy regimen, based on seasonal products. Which foods to prefer and how to regulate yourself during the coldest season of the year?
Nutrition: because we eat more in winter
The average body temperature of an adult is around 37°C, a value that must be kept constant so that all the physiological functions of the body can take place correctly.
It is often thought that a warmer climate, by promoting perspiration, can help us lose weight, in reality it is quite the opposite.
In winter, cold temperatures lead to a greater expenditure of energy by our body.
In this case the so-called ‘thermoregulation’ takes place: to keep body heat constant, the body uses a lot of energy, which it obtains by transforming a large quantity of nutrients.
This occurs as a result of the intake, digestion and use of ingested food.
For this reason, in winter it is more difficult for our body to keep the body temperature constant, therefore the mechanism that regulates the sense of hunger is more active.
What to prefer and what to avoid in winter feeding?
The consumption of seasonal foods, not only referring to fruit and vegetables, guarantees the wholesomeness of the preparations, preserving the nutritional characteristics of the individual foods.
The diet must be balanced and complete even in winter, avoiding giving in to the temptation of foods that are too fat or processed or prepared with a prevalent oily base, such as cheeses, stews and timbales of various kinds rich in oil and butter, and limiting sweets and spirits.
What are ‘winter’ foods
In particular, winter vegetables are:
- cruciferous (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, all characterized by the typical inflorescences);
- roots (beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips, radishes, Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes);
- cucurbits (pumpkin and zucchini);
- some green leafy vegetables (spinach, celery, lettuce, sorrel, watercress, catalonia, chard, herbs).
Among the fruits are:
- citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, tangerines, clementines, grapefruit).
Even fish has its own seasonality and winter is the peak season for:
- gray bream;
- red gurnard;
Seasonality of fruit and vegetables: why respect it
It is important to respect the seasonality of fruit and vegetables because in this way we will be more likely to introduce foods stored correctly and which, therefore, have not been altered in their nutritional properties and, in particular, in the content of micronutrients (vitamins, mineral salts and bioactive substances with various regulatory and protective functions for the organism).
Furthermore, by favoring the introduction of foods according to the season, we guarantee greater variety in our diet and we will be able to enjoy tastier foods.
Hydration and cold: how much and what to drink
Low temperatures reduce the sense of thirst (water lowers body temperature), thus increasing the risk of dehydration, especially in the elderly, who already tend to drink less, feeling the need to drink with greater difficulty.
However, it is important to continue to hydrate sufficiently even in the winter months, drinking at least 2 liters of water a day, perhaps through preferably unsweetened hot drinks.
Spirits and winter
In winter, the consumption of higher alcohol content, starting with wine, is encouraged by the lower temperatures.
In reality, there is no period of the year in which it is more advisable to drink alcohol, of any kind, nor are there any alcohols that are truly healthier than others: unfortunately, ethanol is always bad for you.
In technical terms it is in fact a drug and not a nutrient which, following the operations carried out by the body to guarantee its disposal, can be transformed either into a toxic molecule, such as acetaldehyde, or into fat.
Ethanol and acetaldehyde are both molecules officially recognized as direct carcinogens and alcohol consumption is associated with the onset of numerous tumors affecting the head and neck or the digestive system.
Nutrition during the winter: do vitamins help prevent ailments?
There is no solid scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of vitamin supplementation or supplementation in the prevention of winter ailments.
Some studies (Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold*) suggest a mild mitigating effect of vitamin C on cold symptoms, shortening its course, while an adequate intake of vitamin A is believed to be beneficial for the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract , making them more resistant as the first barrier against pathogens.
However, to date, it is not possible to recommend taking these nutrients in greater quantities than we can already do by eating properly.
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