Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fuel your body for winter

This time of year life gets tends to get a little busier and with all the events during the holiday season it's easy to let good nutrition habits fall to the wayside. The transition to colder, darker days has an impact on our bodies, especially when trying to keep up with work and family, as well as trying to stay healthy and fit. As the weather gets colder it's good to remember that you don't need to eat more, just differently.

Vitamin D - Statistics Canada found that more than 1.1 million Canadians are Vitamin D deficient which is low enough to cause nutritional rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. While you can get Vitamin D through foods like milk, egg yolks and fish with bones, it's important to spend some time in the sun as well. If you are unable to get the required amount of Vitamin D through the above methods, supplements are an option, although it's a good idea to talk to your doctor first.

Omega 3's - For those Canadians that suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), nutrition experts recommend introducing  Omega-3 fats in your diet since these have been shown to relieve symptoms of mild depression. Salmon, walnuts and flax seeds are all good sources of Omega-3 fats.

Include seasonal vegetables - Seasonal vegetables can be great sources of anti-oxidants, Vitamin C, folic acid, among others.  Some of the super stars include winter squash, red bell peppers, oranges, collard greens and other dark leafy vegetables.

Zinc and Vitamin E - Whole nuts and seeds are rich in Vitamin E which is a strong anti-oxidant and foods like oysters, beef, turkey, ricotta cheese and beans all contain zinc which helps your boost your immune system.

Eating out regularly is very accessible nowadays, especially during the holiday season and when done occasionally, it can be a nice change from eating at home. However, starting from scratch with as many natural and seasonal ingredients as possible is your best option. With a little planning, your winter nutrition should keep you fit, happy and healthy all the way to spring.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Burke L. Nutrition for Winter Sports: An Interview with Sports Dietitian Susie Parker-Simmons. International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. October 2005;15(5):567.
2. Burrell S. Getting Through the Tough Winter Months. Bicycling Australia. May 2008;(151):88-89.
3. Clark N. Winter Nutrition—Fueling for Cold Weather Exercise. ACSM Fit Society Page. Winter2012 2012;:8-9.
4. Cort M. Nutrition: AVOID TIPPING THE SCALES DURING WINTER. Modern Athlete & Coach. July 2009;47(3):17-18.
5. Meyer N, Manore M, Helle C. Nutrition for winter sports. Journal Of Sports Sciences. December 2, 2011;29:S127-S136.
6. The role of vitamins and dietary-based metabolites of vitamin D in prevention of vitamin D deficiency. Food & Nutrition Research. January 2012;56:1-8.

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