ua en ru

Dietitian on how to eat in winter to stay healthy

Dietitian on how to eat in winter to stay healthy RBC-Ukraine collage
Author: Maria Kholina

Winter is approaching, which could make our health vulnerable, as well as result in uncontrolled fat accumulation, cardiovascular diseases, and many other unpleasant consequences.

Here's how to eat in winter to stay healthy, according to dietitian Oksana Skitalinska.

Why eating right is important in winter

Cold winter weather and few sunny days encourage people to move less, spend more time indoors, less time outdoors, breathe more polluted air, and indulge in fatty and sweet food, and do it frequently.

And everything in our bodies contributes to this: in winter, insulin resistance increases, being an ancient adaptive mechanism for fat accumulation.

The liver also increases fat production, depositing fat wherever possible: in liver cells, the pancreas, around internal organs (visceral fat), under the skin, and in many other places.

The liver synthesizes more bad cholesterol, which deposits in the vessels. Elevated cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular diseases. This happens because unhealthy vessels poorly respond to nitric oxide, which dilates vessels.

What to eat in winter?

Consume more fiber, i.e., dishes made from baked, stewed, boiled vegetables. Boiled/baked beets, carrots, pumpkin.

"Add 2-3 slices of baked pumpkin to your favorite pancakes for breakfast, and complement your dinner with a few slices of boiled beet," said Skitalinska.

If you replace white bread with rye, or at least consume it more often, you'll get more fiber and feel satiated longer.

Resistant starch. This type of fiber is not digested or absorbed but, entering the large intestine, promotes the growth of very beneficial microorganisms that produce fats blocking carbohydrate absorption. This includes baked cooled potatoes, dishes with cooled legumes. It's important not to add too many saturated fats, such as melted hard cheese or a lot of sour cream, to potatoes.

Fish oil. Combined with physical exercise, fish oil can increase the activity of enzymes responsible for fat oxidation. So, supplement your winter diet with it.

Vitamin D. An antidepressant and anti-inflammatory vitamin-hormone. It can be taken in pills or consumed in soft-boiled eggs with runny yolks, shiitake mushrooms, chanterelles, fatty sea fish.

Vitamin C. A deficiency of vitamin C in the diet also slows down metabolism. Fresh, pickled cabbage, currants, parsley, weak rosehip tea are good sources of vitamin C. It's important that vitamin C enters the body throughout the day, not all at once.

Consume fermented products. This can be sauerkraut and pickles, soaked apples, beet kvas, fermented dairy products are a source of lactic acid bacteria, the vital activity of which supports normal metabolism.

Don't forget to drink warm water throughout the day because biochemical processes in cells require enough water; dehydration makes cells smaller and less efficient.

Alcohol consumption slows down metabolism (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

Warm food and warm drinks warm your body from the inside, promoting bile secretion and quality digestion of food.

What else you need to know about winter lifestyle

Lack of sleep can intensify insulin resistance and contribute to weight gain; even short-term sleep deprivation can make healthy people perceive sugar as if they have diabetes. Ventilate the bedroom before bedtime and turn off all sources of light (that way melatonin hormone will be produced, and sleep will be longer).

Don't forget about physical activity. It improves the condition of blood vessels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases (strokes, heart attacks, sudden death).

Even 10-15 minutes of exercise reduces insulin resistance and directs consumed food in the right direction, without turning it into fat.

Movement in fresh cold air in comfortable warm clothing contributes to weight loss.