In terms of nutrition, during the winter months, our good intentions are tested frequently. Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day provide us all will excellent excuses to elbow our nutritional concerns to one side and indulge in rich, sugary foods, which provide our bodies with little in terms of nutrition and can actually prove damaging to our overall health.
During the colder months, most of us seek solace in warming, comforting fare from time to time. Winter weight gain and corresponding feelings of sluggishness are common consequences. Spring is as good a time as any time to break bad habits. As the snow drops begin to flower and warmer weather approaches, we all ought to consider ditching those wintry comfort foods we’ve been relying on and switching to healthier alternatives.
Spring clean your system
It’s scientifically proven that good nutrition helps prevent poor health. Every day, healthy bodies repair and heal, grow and build, and repel illness and infection. In order to perform these tasks, our bodies require the right fuel.
If we don’t furnish our bodies with the right fuel, we’re more likely to succumb to illness. A body starved of nutrients, vitamins and minerals is ill-equipped to deal with viruses and infections, while weight-related problems, such as heart disease and diabetes, are also linked to consuming a poor diet.
Come spring, many of us clear away the detritus that has accrued in our homes during the winter – clogging up hallways and gathering in bedrooms and sitting rooms. Why not do the same with our bodies? Just by changing our diets, we can give our bodies a boost, improving overall health and banishing the winter blues.
Consuming a balanced diet improves our chances of being able to fight off infection, encouraging our bodies to function at their optimum level.
We all want to feel and look healthier – good nutrition is the key.
A few simple changes
In general, if you consume a balanced diet, comprising lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, you won’t need to overhaul your eating habits dramatically, merely make a few simple changes.
Having put on a little winter weight, many of us make the mistake of focussing on weight loss rather than maintaining good nutrition.
Crash diets are not designed to improve your health and should therefore be avoided.
If you concentrate on providing your body with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs, healthy weight loss is likely to follow.
Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables
Obvious but true: fruit and veg is good for you.
Fruits and vegetables are our main source of vitamins and minerals, which our bodies need in order to function well. Vitamin A, found in apricots, carrots, cabbage, grapefruit, mangos and spinach, has been proven to strengthen our immune systems, while Vitamin C, which supports cell regeneration and tissue growth, can be found in kiwi fruits, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits and tomatoes.
A simple (and delicious) way of increasing your vegetable and fruit intake is to invest in a juicer and consume nutrient-dense juices daily.
A tasty raw juice comprising tomatoes, celery, cucumber, carrot, parsley, green pepper and spinach is high in antioxidants, while a raw juice made from carrot, apple and orange can help ease digestion.
Bear in mind, sweet fruits contain high levels of fructose – a form of natural sugar – so should be consumed in moderation.
Having been grown in the absence of harmful pesticides and toxic chemicals, organic produce is considered higher in health giving benefits than non-organic produce.
In terms of nutrition, some studies suggest that consuming organic produce actually equates to eating an extra portion of fruit or vegetables every day!
A recent study found organic cows’ milk to be between 40% and 80% higher in antioxidants than non-organic cows’ milk. So, if you don’t fancy forgoing dairy altogether, just by switching to organic dairy products, you can dramatically increase your nutrient intake.
While organic produce does tend to be more costly than non-organic produce, cutting out convenience foods and sugary drinks can save you money that can be spent on other things which are more beneficial for your body.
Increase you intake of raw food
Many sensitive micronutrients are damaged during the cooking process. Exposure to heat can alter the shape and chemical composition of micronutrients, making it impossible for your body to digest them. Raw juices, salads, and raw soups make delicious meals high in micronutrient levels. Spice up salads and soups with raw seeds and nuts for an extra nutrient kick.
Switch fizzy drinks for water
Our bodies require water to perform many important tasks. Water helps transport nutrients to our cells and carries waste products away from them. It assists us in regulating our body temperature, lubricates our joints and aids with the digestion of food.
Water is so important to our overall health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests we drink between nine and thirteen cups of water per day.
As we’re all increasingly aware, fizzy and sugary drinks should be avoided. Switch Cola for carbonated water and add a slice of lemon or lime for a citrusy zing.
Swap caffeinated drinks for organic Rooibos tea, which contains an array of antioxidants, proven to help your body fend off cancer.
Looking good, feeling great
There’s no better way to set yourself up for summer than to spring clean your body.
Focussing on good nutrition gives us all a healthy glow, so banish the junk, make nutrition-led choices, and concentrate on giving your body what it needs.