Top 7 foods to improve digestion and boost immunity in winter

Most of your immune system is situated within your gut. Keeping digestion robust means that you will also be keeping your immunity alive.
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Come winter, almost everyone struggles to get past colds, coughs, and the flu. Cusps of shifting seasons are always the time of weakened immunity. The answer is not to expect it and take antibiotics for it every time. There is much you can do to support your body during these sensitive times with food and lifestyle.

You must consider two key aspects. The first is to look at foods that you need to eliminate alongside foods that you need to include. The second thing to consider is keeping your own digestive health optimal. Most of your immune system is situated within your gut. Keeping digestion robust means that you will also be keeping your immunity alive.

Keeping digestion strong

You might be eating the healthiest foods and wondering why you keep falling sick. If your digestion is weakened by frequent antibiotics, antacids, medication, and high stress, then your body may not be able to utilise great foods.

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During the winter, make sure that you support your digestive system by eating mindfully, chewing your food well, not eating when you are stressed, and avoiding leftover foods that might breed infections.

Stay with warm and hot foods. Beyond all of this, always avoid drinking cold water that constricts the blood vessels within your gut, leading to poor digestion. Also include foods that are helpful for digestive health and immune function in the winter season.

Let’s take a walk through some great foods for this season!

1.   Oily fish

Winter is a time when we need higher fats and proteins to sustain the weather. Warm, heavy, and oily foods like fatty fish rich in omega-3 always helps to replenish reserves and lubricate moisture reserves.

They help to maintain the integrity of the mucous membranes. The mucus membranes are the breeding ground for infections and keeping them healthy is key to fighting off infections. Include plenty of fatty fish but always get your fish from a good source and make sure it is well cooked.

2.   Beets

When the winter arrives, several systems within your body get stressed. You can find that liver function weakens and this in turn leads to lymphatic congestion. If you find yourself retaining water and looking bloated, it is a sign that the liver and lymph need attention. Beets are rich in nitrates, which improve vasodilation of blood vessels and help to stimulate bile flow from, the liver and the gallbladder. Including roast beets can be great to support the health of your liver, overall digestion and support immunity with the antioxidants.

3.   Mineral salt

Different salts can be helpful in the winter. While there are some people who might be overconsuming salt with pickles and processed foods, there are also those who clearly need some healthy salts. Salt can defrost ice in nature, and it is the same with your body in winter. Winter is also a time when adrenal function can be compromised. Healthy salts help to support stable adrenal function and maintain electrolyte balance. I like to include pink salt, black salt, Jaljeera powder, and rock salt.

4.   Sweet potatoes

Winter is a great time to eat root vegetables. Including sweet potatoes as a replacement to grains along with ample protein and vegetables can be nurturing and nourishing. Root vegetables also help to make you feel more grounded and stable, as they help with blood sugar stability and adrenal function. You can also include other root vegetables such as yams and tapioca. Combine these rich sweet foods with a warm, spicy protein gravy and you have yourself a winning winter meal.

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5.   Turmeric

Almost all Indians are familiar with haldi doodh, aka, the now famous, turmeric latte. However, I do not suggest having huge amounts of turmeric with hot water in the morning as many people tend to do and then struggle with hyperacidity. The answer lies in balancing the warming and potent effect of turmeric with soothing fats. With dairy becoming tricky today considering antibiotics and hormones, replacing it with better fats like coconut milk, and combining it with digestive warming spices like ginger, can be great. Balance the heating quality of ginger with some gentle digestive spice like cardamom, and this can be very soothing to your nervous system at bedtime. Sweeten it with half a teaspoon of raw honey or a few drops of stevia and it is a great way to support your body.

6.   Apples

Apples have always been a winter fruit and there is good reason for this. The beginning of winter is a great time to consume apples.

They are loaded with fibre and are one of the most gastrointestinal tract cleansing foods ever. They help to move the intestinal waste and any accumulation from the previous season.

Each time we shift seasons, we need to encourage our body to cleanse in gentle ways, to avoid the toxic waste building up and congesting the lymphatic system. Apples are also a natural laxative when they are made into fresh juice. Cooking apples releases more pectin, which soothes the mucosa and helps to support gut healing.

7.   Ghee

All healthy fats are required in higher amounts in winter. The fatty quality counters the dryness of winter and helps us to combat the weather. Ghee is a fat that is wonderful irrespective of your individual body type and season. If you are open to consuming this wonderful fat, it is one of the best foods for the winter as it promotes healthy blood sugar balance, stable adrenal function, nourishment to the tissues, aids healthy digestion, and boosts metabolism. Include warm ghee in every meal and you also provide your body with some strength in combating those winter infections.

Always keep in mind that every season requires some tweaking to your diet, but it also requires healthy digestion. Exercise boosts metabolism and aids digestion, and in turn, a healthy diet supports the ability to move your body in exercise. It can be a cycle but do remember the positive aspect. If you begin to change positively anywhere on that cycle, you will soon keep improving for the better.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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