While piling on the layers is one way to keep the winter chill away, certain foods can help warm us from the inside. Warm soups and hot beverages are a natural, but some foods actually stimulate heat production more than others.
As temperatures drop, appetites perk up. The cold, dark days of winter often bring on cravings for hearty comfort foods, warm beverages, and spicier dishes that held less appeal during the warm summer months. Our biology drives us to consume more calories in case food should become scarce, and to add a little extra padding to help us stay warm. But unlike our ancient ancestors, we live in heated homes and food is readily available – so we don’t need to pack away those extra calories.
“Whenever we eat and digest a meal, the body temperature rises – in a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, or DIT for short,” said Dr. Luigi Gratton, vice president of medical affairs at Herbalife. “But some foods stimulate heat production more than others. High protein foods, for example, increase DIT more than starchy or fatty foods, so they are more ‘warming,'” adds Gratton.
Pungent ingredients – like spicy ginger, chili, pepper and garlic – can aid circulation and generate warmth.
We’re more inclined to drink fluids when the weather is hot but we need plenty of fluids in the winter to warm and humidify cold, dry winter air.
So, let your warm winter coat warm you up from the outside, and try these tips to generate some heat from the inside out:
- Protein-rich dishes fuel the furnace to keep us warm. But choose low-fat proteins – fish, poultry and lean meats, or protein powder in soups or oatmeal – to avoid excess fat and calories.
- Turn to warm teas and soups to help hydrate you and keep air passages moisturized.
- Add an extra dash of spices and seasonings to your winter dishes.
- If you catch a cold or the flu, don’t forget the chicken soup. Studies show that it works better than other hot liquids to speed up the flow of mucus. It’s thought that the traditional aromatic seasonings in the soup – such as onion and pepper – travel in the vapors and help to open up clogged nasal passages.