So it is official! Winter has arrived. It is a little later than I expected but it has finally arrived (feeling very dreadful right now).
Coming along with the bone chilling cold is the appetite for anything FATTENING and SOME MORE FATTENING. I have such appetite, and I believe a lot of us do, and the excuse for such feeling is that we are entering hibernation, where we are allowed to store fats in our bodies to cope with the cold, hoping that some moment in time the fat will be burned in exchange for some body warmth. Well, it might be true, but you have to NOT dressed like a cocoon that is! Moreover, bad eating habit can occur at any time of the year, not just in Winter, and it can cause more harms to our bodies than we perceive. In fact, having a proper nutrition intake and sufficient vitamins and minerals can help you fight against the bad affects of Winter quire amazingly. For example, supplying your body with enough Vitamin D3 and Calcium helps you stay stronger against the wind chill compared to that glistening pork belly that has been braised with tons of herbs and spices for hours (it’s calling for you like the ghost of the ex’s). In this post I’d like to share with you some of the personal knowledge that I have collected during the years on how to cope with the mood-swing behavior of the Canadian Winter.
Talking about supplements in our daily diet is not a strange idea anymore. We used to think that supplements/vitamins were just for people who were sick and were not eating properly, for whatever reason there was. In fact, it is not that serious of a matter to take supplements. Throughout the years, agriculture has lost its position as one of mankind’s important tasks. Lands had been transformed into urban area, buildings, roads, and many other industrial projects. Foods have been moved into green houses where they grow in the properly controlled environments, with nutrients and water that are somewhat artificial. Even with foods that are grown organically on the last of the soil, the nutrients in the soil are not rich as they were ten, twenty, or fifty years ago, leading to the lack of nutrition in our daily diet, no matter how well we manage it. This leads to the requirement of supplements. These are required to supply us with our bodies’ daily requirement of nutrients. A lot of the modern symptoms are caused by the lack of nutrients and are often treated with supplementation.
I have a section of supplements, or vitamins in particular, in the this post is NOT because we only need supplementation in Winter. We do need supplements on a daily basis and with proper amounts to maintain and healthy life style. The reason is why I decided to put it here is because Winter is not a favorable season for agriculture, and that means there is less of the fresh produce to choose from. Eating seasonally has been one of the best way, if not THE BEST way, for any healthy diet/life style. Of course there are multiple preserved foods that you and I can think of that still have lots of nutrition values, but having fresh vegetables and fruits that grow seasonally in Winter to eat or cook with might be a harder task than in other seasons of the year. Also, as I mentioned above, the lack of nutrients in these foods, no matter how healthy they are, will not be sufficient for us to survive through the harshness of the weather, leading to the rising importance of supplements. One fact that you can feel and test out right away is the lack of vitamin D in Winter. Our bodies get the most of vitamin D from the Sun, and it is unlikely that we get the same amount of sunlight in Winter compared to other seasons. The lack of vitamin D and Calcium often leads to the “blue” mood in Winter, and exposes our bodies to multiple sickness and symptoms (Flu, Cold, Shivering in the cold).
There are many brands and products in the market that offer to cover this lack of supplements in our bodies. However, in order to know which one is good and gives you the most bang for your buck, you have to look through more than just the price tags. Here are some of the few things you can look for in a supplementary product before you decide to buy it:
- The science behind the products: Can you find any research/study on this product, either online of on the product? These researches/studies must be from a creditable source and should be available to the public.
- The ingredients and sources: What is the ingredients in the products? How much of the supplements that we are looking for is in the actual product? What else is in the product (binding, glue, coating)?
- The bio-availability of the products: Are they pills, capsules, liquid, or in powder form? How much of the supplements will actually be absorbed by the body? Each of the above forms provides different absorption rate to your body, and often determines how much of the actual nutrient you are getting.
- Pill/ tablets: 10-20%
- Capsules: 30-40%
- Gel: 40-50%
- Liquid: 50-70 or 80%
- Isotonic: 90-95%
- IV: 100% (This is where you get to the hospital and have a bag of liquid injected right into your blood stream. That’s why it’s 100%)
As you can see most of these products will need to pass through our digestive system, and slowly release the nutrients, and these must be transformed into an active form in order to enter our bloodstream. More often than not, the amount of nutrients starts to be less and less after every process, hence the above percentage. Some of the best way to guarantee that you get the most of your money in the amount of supplements you get is to choose from liquid, isotonic, or IV form. In the market right now there are no IV supplements, as these only work through injection. So that leaves liquid or isotonic forms. They are both in liquid form when taken, but the only difference between these two is their bioavaiability, which means how much is absorbed through our stomach into our body. Isotonic liquid form is superior in this case as it has the same pressure as our body’s liquids (tears and blood), hence the faster absorption and the most bang for your buck. Isotonic products come in powder form and must be mixed in a certain amount of water in order to turn isotonic and then taken in orally. It might be the most inconvenient way to take supplements, but considering what you get for your money’s worth, a bit of work is justified.
Currently, the only brand in the market that offers supplement and vitamin products in isotonic form is ISOTONIX (IRONIC!!! LOL) You can take a look at their products and decide if you want to try them out. I am not here to urge you to try this brand only, but do your own testing and research in order to provide yourselves with the best nutrition you deserve.
Stay pretty in Winter:
We can never NOT talk about food in a food blog, don’t you agree? Even though there is a shortage of fresh produce we can pick from in the Winter, that doesn’t mean there’s none! Here are my top picks
Being an Asian I am, of course ginger would come in my mind right at the moment I spell Winter (LOL!) As you all know quite well, ginger is packed full of antioxidants that help relieve pains and aid in digestion. The most popular benefit of ginger is the ability to reduce nasal congestion, one of the flu’s symptoms. However, I bet you don’t know about gingerol. This phytochemical found in ginger has the ability to suppress and slow down the aging process in the cells, thus keeping us look younger and more lively. There are many recipes that you can incorporate ginger into, such as my Bún Gạo Gà recipe, but the best way is to have a cup of fresh ginger tea. Still, now that you know ginger keeps you pretty, don’t go stuffing your stomach with 1 liter of ginger tea a day!
I choose beets because they have the natural sweetness that can be added to a lot of the soup recipes for winter. Just as mentioned above, Betalains is the phytochemicals in beets that help in the production of glutathione, a nutrient that detoxifies and stimulates the liver cell function. Besides, beets are packed full of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin K, which is essential for the absorption of vitamin D3 in your body, leading to a better calcium absorption in bones. If you must know, the leaves of the beet plant are also edible. In Vietnam, we usually boil them and eat as vegetable, or add them in soups. The only thing to note is that these leaves must be consumed immediately after being cooked. They should not be reheated in any way and should not be eaten cold.
Finally, a snack for the winter days! Walnuts are packed full of alpha-linolenic acid, which is converted into beautifying omega 3 fatty acids. Walnut is one of the few plant based source of omega 3 with high potency (Even though I do recommend fish oil omega 3 if you’re not vegan). Omega 3 is one nutrient that our body cannot simply produce, but must be supplied from outside sources. Besides the beneficial omega 3, walnuts also provide our bodies with lots of vitamins and minerals that protect our skin and hair against the harsh and dry winter weather.
I hope you have a great time reading my post and can supply your pantry with lots of beneficial foods to cope against the winter.
Disclaimer: All images from this post are sourced from Google Image. The content from this post are collected from Eat Pretty by Jolene Hart, through various sources online, and also through my knowledge gained from attending health and wellness seminars, hosted by creditable doctors and dietitians working and practicing in Toronto, ON, Canada.