Body heat and protein

Generate natural body heat on cold days by increasing your protein-rich dishes and warm beverages.

While adding on the layers is one way to keep the winter chill away, there are certain foods that  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 those good old fashioned comfort foods.   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  “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 are 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.

Choose low fat protein to warm you from the inside out.

Fish, poultry and lean meats, or add a good quality protein power 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 flu, remember 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.

Information in part by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD

Be Well… and Be You


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