A HUM nutritionist curates the perfect winter supplement routine.
Let’s be real: Winter isn’t the most flattering time of year. The weather is frigid, illness runs rampant, and we may even be feeling a bit stressed and sluggish after the holiday rush. More than ever, it’s important to eat healthy, stay warm, and get plenty of rest to maintain optimal health. To really up-level your winter health, consider incorporating key supplements for the season.
Winter Health And Beauty Concerns
Immunity is the biggest challenge in the winter season. While it’s a wonderful time for festivities, it’s also when the very unfestive flu makes its way around. (Darn that one person who just doesn’t cover their mouth when they sneeze!) And then there’s holiday travels. Nothing spreads a cold like cramped quarters and germy chairs, tray tables, and armrests. Plus there’s a lot of stress preparing for the holidays that can compromise your immune system.
As far as your skin goes, redness and dryness continue from fall all through the winter. It may be especially bad after the holidays. Remember, drinking alcohol dehydrates your skin from the inside. Pair that with cold air parching you from the outside and you’ve got the perfect conditions for red, flaky skin.
Then, all of the delicious rich food and sweet snacks adds up during the winter months—especially as most of us are less active than usual. Rich foods can delay gastric emptying, causing bloating and indigestion that can be connected to breakouts. Instead, try to ease up on heavier foods and add something with high fiber at most meals. This addition helps with digestion and to ease any constipation from rich, non-fibrous foods.
Finally, depression is at a high this time of year, with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) impacting around 14-million American adults. The condition is due to the shorter daylight times and longer dark evening periods. Other reasons for depression in the winter can include loneliness, grief, or financial and personal woes—all things we might encounter at this time of year.
It’s normal during the colder winter months to crave more carbohydrates. Here’s why: Levels of serotonin (the feel good hormone in our brain) deplete this time of year because of the lack of sunlight. Since carbohydrate rich foods increase our production of serotonin, your brain tells your body to compensate for the lack of sun with more starch. Sneaky!
To satisfy your winter cravings, avoid refined sugar and eat complex carbohydrates instead. These will satisfy your feel good cravings while providing more sustainable levels of energy. Need ideas? Think of seasonal foods. Good wintertime sources of carbohydrates include pumpkins, squashes, and sweet potatoes. Any of these are great roasted or blended into soups and casseroles for added fiber and nutrients.
Then, eating plenty of probiotics can help protect your body from infection. Try to incorporate Greek yogurt as a snack or healthy base in a vegetable dip. Not only is it a good source of probiotics, but it’s also low in sugar and has satiating protein.
Lastly, eating foods that are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene can also help with your immunity. You can also incorporate unprocessed grains, milk, eggs, chicken, and fish which are all rich in zinc. Zinc is another great mineral that can help you fight off infections.
Supplements For Winter
Perhaps more than any other season, winter is an excellent time to protect yourself with the added boost supplements can give you. Here are the four types I recommend most to my clients in the winter:
Vitamin D is an essential supplement for winter, when there’s less direct exposure to sunlight and much more time spent indoors. Not only does this nutrient contribute to bone strength and aid in the absorption of calcium, but it also helps promote a positive mood. Vitamin D is also linked to boosting the immune system.
Probiotics help keep our digestive tracts healthy, which is especially key during a season in which many of us are eating fattier foods and drinking more alcohol than normal. Probiotics help restore our gut flora for better digestion, more immunity protection, and even safety from breakouts.
These broad-spectrum digestive enzymes help break down your meals more efficiently and alleviate the feelings of fullness and bloating that can be associated with digestion. Bring them with you to any big holiday dinners or incorporate them regularly for optimal digestion in the new year.
For any stress or seasonal blues, this supplement’s the one for you. It contains the herb rhodiola rosea, which improves your body’s response to stress so you can remain calm and focused. Think of it as a daily dose of meditation in a bottle.