Believe it or not, the optimal winter diet is simply not the same as the optimal summer diet. Various biological and environmental factors must be taken into account, and what you consume has a startling effect on your mind and body.
Depending on where you live, the winter months can be particularly difficult. The lack of sun makes rates of depression and other psychological disorders skyrocket (as well as depriving most people of adequate Vitamin D), rates of viral infections such as the cold and flu rise exponentially, and the cold can literally freeze your limbs off.
Yet in large part due to globalization, what we eat hardly changes. We still have access to the same produce and livestock (it’s always warm in some part of the world), and barring that, there are still frozen foods. Yet it is a fairly ludicrous assumption that given such drastic changes in our external environment, our optimal diet is the same regardless of season. Discussed below are several foods that will do wonders for you during the colder months.
A lack of sunlight means that your body produces less serotonin, your natural feel-good brain chemical. Luckily, consumption of carbohydrates can easily fix this problem. Of course, the devil is in the details. Simple sugars and processed carbohydrates will spike your blood sugar, causing you to crash immediately afterwards.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, provide a sustained boost without a sharp decline. Oatmeal is an excellent example. It is full of several important vitamins and nutrients, as well as fiber (which will help keep you full and your blood sugar level). Whole-grains and brown rice are also fantastic options.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The winter months, being as dry as they are, tend to leave your skin feeling parched. This can lead to permanent damage down the road. Luckily, Omega-3 fatty acids such as ALA, DHA and EPA are an easy way to combat this problem (and help your brain and heart, too). Walnuts, fatty cold water fish, flaxseed, and olive oil are all great sources of Omega-3’s. Moisturizer works too, but it won’t solve the underlying problem.
The winter months present three distinct problems that can affect anyone, anytime; the common cold, influenza, and (if you live in Transylvania) vampires. Garlic is perfectly adept at combating all three of these. In a double blind study, participants who were given a garlic supplement reported a 65% less instances of the cold and flu than those who were given a placebo. Fresh garlic may be even better at fighting disease; just don’t eat too much lest you find yourself with a reputation for halitosis.
If you had heard of a mathematical formula that had been in use for centuries, seemed to solve the problem that it set out to solve with consistent efficiency, yet you did not understand the underlying logic, would you trust it? Before science turned its gaze to chicken soup, millions of people were tasked with this same question. Luckily, now we know that it is capable of clearing your sinuses, reducing inflammation, and potentially stimulating your immune system. Effective indeed!