The Healthiest Foods for Winter

The Healthiest Foods for Winter | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Winter is one of those seasons that can wreak havoc on our health in a number of different ways – from causing our skin to feel dry, our eyes to feel irritated, and our stress level to rise. However, there are certain foods that you can turn to in the winter to help heal these and other common problems associated with the cooler (and often snowy) weather that we’re so used to seeing in Canada during this time of year.

DRY SKIN:
Some of the best foods for dry skin are those rich in Omega-3s. For example, fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, herring and trout, as well as flaxseed. These particular foods work by helping the skin’s ability to retain moisture as well as strengthen its barrier. Nuts, which are rich in Vitamin E, are also great for protecting the skin’s barrier as well as keeping it protected from oxidative cell damage. Some of the best nuts for dry skin include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, and brazil nuts.

Let’s not forget about fruits and vegetables, either. Consuming carrots, for example, can work just as well as that moisturizing serum that you’re using every day. Carrots contain antioxidants known as carotenoids, which are responsible for giving them their bright orange hue, but also get absorbed by our fat tissue to boost the skin and give it a healthier glow, as well as protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun (which isn’t just limited to being a summer problem.) Avocado (which is a fruit but is often mistaken as being a vegetable) is rich in monounsaturated fat. This helps to keep our skin moist, prevents it from aging, and also reduces inflammation. Other fruits that can benefit the skin include apples, papayas, peaches, and strawberries.

It’s also crucial that you drink an adequate amount of water for the skin. This is important because it aids in digestion and circulation, absorption, as well as excretion. There are also many other added benefits that come from drinking water.

DRY EYES:
When you suffer from dry eyes, the first thing that is normally recommended for patients to do is use artificial tears, which can be found at any pharmacy. While these can certainly be beneficial in soothing dry eyes, so can eating more of certain foods. Sweet potatoes, for example, are rich in Vitamin A, and this is a vitamin that helps to keep the eyes lubricated. To increase your body’s Vitamin A absorption, try cooking your sweet potatoes with a small amount of a healthier fat, such as olive oil.

Flaxseed – specifically cold-pressed flaxseed oil – is also good for treating dry eye. It’s high in the omega-3 known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which converts into separate omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA, which protect your cell membranes.

STRESS:
If you suffer from stress, try boosting your Vitamin C intake, as immune protection isn’t the only thing that Vitamin C is good for. In higher doses, Vitamin C can reduce anxiety in addition to elevated blood pressure – something stress has been known to do. There are many great food sources of Vitamin C, such as oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, kiwi, mango, papaya, and more. Drinking a hot cup of tea can also help to sooth the nerves and relieve stress and anxiety.

BLOOD:
While blood conditions can occur during any time of year and aren’t season-specific, it’s still important to do everything you can to improve blood flow and reduce your risk of blood-related problems. Vitamin K, for example, is important for blood clotting. If you’re Vitamin K deficient, you are more prone to excessive bleeding. You can increase your Vitamin K intake by eating foods like kale, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

Iron deficiency is another common problem which is detected through blood tests. If you happen to be iron deficient, you may notice symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, pale skin, headache, cold hands and/or feet, brittle nails, and even chest pain or shortness of breath. While taking an iron supplement is one way of increasing your iron level, it tends to be hard on the stomach, so it may be easier on you to get your iron from food sources. Some iron-rich foods include beans and lentils, lean beef, chicken, turkey, cashews, and whole grains.