Temperatures have begun to drop, and we are bracing for cold weather. Like every other season, winter is also associated with certain health risks and hazards! These cold months call for a little extra attention to our health and well-being, from ailments like the common cold, flu, and fever to postnasal cough, viral infections, inflammation, and other skin issues.
Our immunity takes a hit in winters, which otherwise safeguards our body from seasonal infections. Therefore, it is imperative to take care of our immune system and boost it.
Apart from layering up with warm clothes, specific immunity essential foods and habits are needed by the body to sail through the winter days. So, here is a list of 10 essentials that you must include in your daily diet and lifestyle to keep infections and flu at bay.
Chyawanprash can be found in almost every Indian household during the winter months. This is a much-hailed immunity booster tonic, and the Indians swear by its health benefits! Made of effective herbs, they are known to boost the production of WBCs (white blood cells) and support immunity.
Furthermore, chyawanprash is beneficial for lung health and helps in cleansing the respiratory tract for comfortable breathing. The cinnamon and amla content promotes better digestion and aids in regulating bowel movement. The benefit doesn’t end here! Eating a spoonful of chyawanprash daily, loaded with the goodness of honey, amla, and ghee, also promotes good and healthy skin.
Hemp comes from the Sativa plant (Cannabis), which has a rich history of medicinal use in India and throughout the world. It is important to note that hemp does not produce any mind-altering effect but is revered for its several therapeutic benefits.
During winter, when we are prone to viruses and bacteria, including hemp in our daily diet signifies half the battle against several illnesses and diseases is won! Hemp can be consumed as a powder, seeds, salad dressing, and even cooking oil. Apart from natural plant-based protein and fibre, this superfood delivers big on healthy omega fats and zinc, which are integral in supporting the immune system and preparing it to combat illnesses, especially in the winter months.
Desi ghee is famous for its warming nature. It is loaded with fat-soluble vitamins D, K, E, and A, essential for body functions, building immunity, and regulating cholesterol levels. Ghee also contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which assists in burning fat and promoting weight loss.
During colder months, our skin becomes dry and itchy. Adding 1-2 spoons of ghee to the daily diet will help gain moisture and keep the body warm.
- Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are loaded with Vitamin E, C, folate, omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. These again help in keeping you warm and boosting immunity. Nuts like walnuts, almonds, and pistachios fight with invading bacteria and prevent colds. These foods also contain obesity and a few cancers.
While you can eat a handful of walnuts and almonds in the morning, adding them to your salads and oatmeal is a good choice. You can also consume an energy bar loaded with nuts, peanut ladoo, homemade chikki, flax seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and roasted makhanas to control your hunger pangs.
- Jaggery or gur
The wholesome jaggery brings a host of benefits with them. They stimulate the digestive enzyme, which reduces gas, acidity, and bloating. It improves digestion, and its laxative effect (mild) tackles constipation. In addition, eating gur fights seasonal common cold, cough, and flu.
You may add gur to your ladoo, chikki, and even tea! They make an excellent dessert (eat a small piece, about an inch) and even add to a glass of milk.
It is essential to consume a spoonful of honey during colder months. While it prepares your body to fight against external viruses and bacteria, the antiseptic, balsamic, and anti-inflammatory effect curbs laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx-the voice box, which causes huskiness or heavy voice, and a painful cough), sore throat, and cold.
Honey can be consumed in numerous fun ways: Stir it into tea or coffee, mix it into yoghurt, or cereal, drizzle some of it over toasts or pancakes. You can gulp a teaspoonful of honey before retiring to bed to reduce the severity of cold and cough symptoms. Honey as a cough suppressant works wonders!
This common kitchen spice is an essential immunity booster as it packs phytonutrient properties and antioxidants. Turmeric is also the best natural remedy against typical winter sinuses, flu, and cold viruses.
It can be added to everything from soups to teas, milk, pickles, porridges, and curries. You can also make yourself a detox drink. All you need to do is: Take a glass of warm water, add a pinch of turmeric powder, ginger, and little honey to the brew. You can safely consume this concoction once daily.
- Green tea and beverages
Winter makes our immune system sluggish, and the best way to fight the winter blues is with a hot piping mug of refreshing green tea! When our bodies tend to pick up germs easily during cold weather, a regular intake of green tea, brews, and healthy beverages keep sore throats and sniffles at bay.
Moreover, green tea covers many health perks like uplifting the mood, aiding in weight loss, lowering the risk of chronic diseases, and even regulating blood sugar. Consider including green tea in your daily diet to reap these excellent wellness benefits.
- Essential oils (for inhalation)
The therapeutic properties of essential oils can help in strengthening the immune system. These oils contain ethers, carbohydrates, ketones, and aldehydes and are characterised by antiviral, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties. Therefore, these essential oils cannot only fight viruses, but alleviate flu-like symptoms, purify the air, and assure comfort during illness.
Inhalation of essential oil offers tremendous support to our bodies in conquering grey days and cold weather. You can try inhaling rosemary, lemon, clove, eucalyptus, and tea tree essential oils to boost your immunity and gain other healing and psychological benefits.
Multi-vitamins are known to boost the immune system, and in cold weather, the entire group of vitamins (from B1 to B12) becomes highly essential. While a balanced consumption of zinc helps fight respiratory issues, vitamins like B12, C, and D are beneficial if you are feeling slow and sluggish! Moreover, as exposure to sunlight is limited in winter, Vitamin D supplements will boost immunity positively.
Though it is imperative to take care of your health year-round, your immunity is more vulnerable in winters. We hope that our list of immunity essentials will help you sail through these colder months. So order your favourite products and make this year’s winter season a memorable one!