10 Food Tips To Keep You Warm

Here's how to replenish your body with some hot winter delicacies

10 Food Tips To Keep You Warm

It’s a new year, a time to say Goodbye to the last decade and start afresh. We cannot go back in time and change what happened however, it has added valuable learnings. With the virus still around, one of our new year resolutions would be to reboot our health and stay fit. And how better can it get to start a healthy regime with winter foods and an awesome weather to get physically active.

Winters are not just for enjoying bonfires and sipping hot chocolate, but also to keep our immunity strong to ward off ailments like cold, flu and microbial infections that come along with this weather. Hence, it would be wise to replenish our body with nutritious food rich in all the vital nutrients.

Though all foods produce heat during digestion, there are some that take longer to digest and raise our body temperature and make us feel warmer. Foods high in complex carbs, proteins and healthy fats heat the body more which means they burn more calories during the process of digestion. This is known as thermogenesis.A mixed diet can induce energy expenditure of 5-15% of the daily energy expenditure.

Further, every food has an innate characteristic “Virya” based on which it acts differently inside our body.There is a misconception that a hot soup heats our body and a refrigerated food is cold. The fact is that the potency of food has no relation with the prevailing temperature of the food. For instance, an ice cream, will induce heat in the body, despite being cold in temperature.

Let us look at some foods that will boost your metabolism and keep you warm inside out.

1. Root vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, radish, beetroot are innately hot. These vegetables require more energy during the process of digestion causing rise in body temperature. Further they are also high in vitamin, minerals and fiber.

2. Green leafy vegetables are available fresh during winter. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They help in reducing the risk of chronic degenerative disorders, improve blood circulation and have anti-inflammatory properties and help regulate blood sugar levels. Hence, try it in larger quantities, have at least 4-5 portions i.e 500gms of vegetables (greens and roots) everyday in your meals (cooked or fresh).

3. Herbs and spices like black pepper, fenugreek, ajwain, ginger, garlic, dill, cumin help in fighting against coughs and flu, stimulate appetite and digestion and increase blood circulation.

According to Ayurveda, the holy basil (tulsi) helps body fight all respiratory disorders and is also an antiseptic and antimicrobial agent.
Similarly, Curcumin an active compound found in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and helps in fighting oxidative damage and boost our immune function. So, stop fussing when your mom asks you to drink a glass of warm Haldiwala dudh at bedtime.

Ginger is a natural diaphoretic (which keeps your body warm within). It increases the blood circulation and can stimulate thermogenesis. Garlic contains Allicin(sulphur containing compound) which has immune boosting, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

4. Have at least two fruits every day. There is a common myth around avoiding citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and guava during winters as they are considered cold foods and may cause cough and cold. Fact is, these are high in Vitamin C which increases absorption of nutrients and boost immune system and eventually helps in treating cough and cold. Banana too is considered a hot food according to Ayurveda. It is rich in B vitamins and Magnesium which help the glands to regulate body temperature. Hence, do not avoid banana during winters.

5. Dals and pulse-based foods like khichdi, bisibelle rice, lentil soup, moong dal halwa are winter delicacies rich in proteins, fiber and minerals. Proteins take longer to digest, hence increase thermogenesis. Include atleast 2 portions of protein source every day.

6. Ragi mudde, bajra and make ki roti provide complex carbs, fiber and minerals like magnesium which help in preventing cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and heart attacks whose occurrence is higher during winter.

7. Nuts and oil seeds like sesame, peanuts, almonds, dates, fenugreek seeds are rich in proteins, calcium, phosphorus, iron andfiber. Tilchikki, peanut laddu, dates barfi,methipak are all foods that boosts the immunity and increase metabolism. Have a handful of nuts everyday i.e 20gm (make it a mid-morning snack).

8. Ayurveda advises to pour ghee to the rice and khichadi and even to your winter sweets as it helps in digestion, adding healthy fats in the body.

9. Iced Coffee cuppa can keep u warm. Don’t get mused. It’s not the temperature of the coffee but the caffeine that raises your body temperature by stimulating metabolism.

10. Stay hydrated to stay warm. Water helps regulate your internal temperature whereas alcohol impairs the body’s ability to raise the body temperature during cold climate. Hence, avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Remember, that all seasonal and local produce cater to the needs of that particular season. Balancing your diet is the key to good health. Hence, make sure you add all the seasonal produce (fruits, veggies, grains, millets and pulses) in the right portions on your Thali every day.


(The author is a nutrition expert with Arogya World's MyThali program)