Winter is here! Repeatedly switching between cold outside temperatures and dry, heated indoor environments can increase the risk of infection, while little sunlight depresses the mood. However, Free Athletes don’t need to worry! One of the most important ways to strengthen your immune system and performance is through absorbing the daily nutrients we get from our food. Below you will find seven eating tips to help you stay healthy through the winter and achieve maximum performance.
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables!
High on the list are, of course, fresh fruits and vegetables! These provide you with plenty of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. These nutrients will help fortify your immune system from unwanted intruders, while also boosting your performance.
Opt for seasonal products!
Be on the lookout for regional and seasonal fruits and vegetables, since valuable ingredients can be lost by lengthy transport and storage times. Winter varieties such as pumpkin, chicory, radicchio, root vegetables and all kinds of cabbage are particularly good at this time of year. With fruits, choose varieties that are harvested in late autumn, such as apples, pears, pomegranates and grapes. And in case you had any doubts, frozen vegetables and fruit are better than their reputation! These fruits are shock-frozen shortly after harvest, so that a good portion of micronutrients are saved. Just keep an eye out for any preservatives or artificial ingredients and defrost produce gently e.g. overnight in a refrigerator.
Onions and garlic protect against pathogens!
Each vegetable that drives you to tears should regularly land on your plate. Onions, leeks, chives and garlic are particularly available all year round and they are full of valuable ingredients that have an antibacterial and disinfecting effect.
Red fruits protect your cells!
Foods that have an antioxidant effect protect you from harmful free radicals that can easily damage body cells particularly in winter. At the forefront of natural antioxidants are pomegranates and berries. The latter are scarce in winter, so it’s worth getting hold of frozen versions.
Vitamin D against the winter blues!
Vitamin D is mood-lifting and can be produced by the body with the help of sunlight. But since natural sunlight in winter isn’t abundant, you should seek out food containing Vitamin D to match your deficit. These are primarily foods such as fish (e.g., salmon, tuna and cod), eggs, avocado and mushrooms.
Nuts keep you awake!
Prolonged periods of low sunlight also means that more of the sleep hormone melatonin is produced. This makes you tired, sluggish and unmotivated. In order to keep this in check, you need melatonin’s opponent, serotonin, which is formed from the amino acid tryptophan. All kinds of nuts, from peanuts and cashews, to hazelnuts and also sunflower seeds provide you with this valuable substrate.
Warm-up from the inside!
As a general focus, make sure many hot foods and drinks with lots of spices should be on your menu. These warm your organs and muscles internally, stimulate blood circulation and metabolism, while developing a resistance to low temperatures. By using ginger, chili, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg in your meals, you can not only jazz up the flavor of your food, but also prepare delicious teas.
Lacking inspiration? Our Nutrition Coach offers a variety of delicious recipes, with which you can easily implement the tips above.