• Kourtney

How to Support Your Body When it's Cooler Outside (nutrition, lifestyle, self care)


How to Support your Body this Winter

As the weather gets colder, the sun sets earlier, and flu season begins, it is crucial to take care of yourself and give your body the support it needs. The change in weather and added holiday to-do lists often create stress and make it hard to spend time on self-care. However, getting proper rest and nutrition can make this time of year a little less frantic and a little more joyful. Here are some of my favorite lifestyle & nutrition tips to help you support yourself this winter.


Focus on warm, well-cooked meals

There's nothing quite like having a warm bowl of soup, chilli, or stew on a cold winter day. We crave warm meals because they are comforting to the body and soothing to the soul. Lucky for us, they can also be more nutritious! Many plants are easier to digest once they are cooked. Additionally, cooking can help to release nutrients that are bound in cell walls. The method of preparation is important because while cooking can release nutrients, it can also destroy them.


Vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus provide the body with more antioxidants when they are steamed. You can even cook your fruits to create a delicious, easy to digest dessert! Slow-cooking meat is another excellent way to support your health during the cold weather. Many cuts of meat that require slow cooking are tough and gelatinous. The low and slow cooking method helps to produce glutathione, release collagen, and enhance nutrient absorption. Bonus points if you use meat with the bone still attached. Cooking meat with bones or making bone broth is a great way to get gut-healing amino acids into your diet.


Use warming herbs & spices


Certain herbs help to balance excess cold, whereas other herbs create cooling in the body. As we are coming out of the warm summer months, switching to heat-producing herbs can be extremely beneficial. Herbs are powerful in many ways. They contain medicinal compounds that aid in healing and promote health. Herbs and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, anise, black pepper, turmeric, cayenne, rosemary, parsley, dill, fennel, basil, and chives are great additions to help your body combat the cold.



Avoid cold liquids


Similar to consuming warming meals and herbs, we want to support the body by balancing the cold. Drinking cold beverages has the opposite effect and may cause you to get insufficient fluids for the day. Most people don't care to have a cold glass of water when it's 20 degrees outside; however, they thoroughly enjoy a warm cup of tea. Consuming warm beverages is also better for digestion. Sipping on warm liquids throughout the day helps to stimulate the digestive system and relax the bowels.



Prioritize whole-food sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, iron & antioxidants.


In case you forgot, there are still some viruses/etc. going around, and to make it worse, we are heading into flu season. Supporting your immune system is more important now than ever. Maintaining proper nutrition and prioritizing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is critical. Vitamin C is perhaps one of the most essential vitamins because of its role as an antioxidant, its functions in collagen formation, neurotransmitter synthesis, carnitine synthesis, non-heme iron absorption, vascular health, wound healing, and more. Vitamin C is primarily found in plant foods, especially citrus and tropical fruits. Kiwis, guava, bell pepper, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, and papaya are a few of the top sources of vitamin C.


Vitamin A can be divided into two categories: retinol and beta-carotene. Retinol is the active form that is found in animal products, especially beef liver. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid found in fruits and vegetables. It must be converted to retinol in order to function as a vitamin. However, the conversion rate is relatively low, and beta-carotene has non-vitamin related functions as well. Retinol & beta-carotene have essential roles in gene expression, growth, cellular differentiation and are antioxidants. Good sources of retinol include beef/lamb liver, cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, goat cheese, and grass-fed butter. Carrots, squash, dark leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, and red bell peppers are all high in beta-carotene.


Vitamin D is another nutrient that helps the immune system function optimally. It is crucial to many biological processes throughout the entire body. There are not many food sources of vitamin D; however, you can get some from fatty fish, grass-fed dairy, and liver. Certain mushrooms can also be a decent source of vitamin D.


Zinc is a trace mineral that is found primarily in animal products, such as oysters. Plant products contain some zinc; however, it is less bioavailable due to the phytate content of plants. Zinc plays a role in cell signaling, hormone release, neurotransmitter function, metabolism, hemoglobin synthesis and can function as an indirect antioxidant.


Iron is another trace mineral, and similar to vitamin A, it can be found in two forms. Heme iron is found in animal products, and it is the more bioavailable form. Plants, such as dark leafy greens, beans, and dried fruits, contain non-heme iron. This form needs to be converted to heme-iron to be efficient. Its absorption is generally low and can also be inhibited by phthalates. Iron is required for oxygen transport to tissues, energy production, antioxidant production, and more.


Most of these vitamins and minerals have antioxidant functions, which are crucial to preventing chronic disease and supporting immune health. Although some individuals could benefit from supplements, most of us should ditch the pills and focus on a food-first approach.



Make time for baths & self-care

With all of the hectic energy surrounding this time of year, it is important to prioritize yourself and your needs. Epsom salt, ginger, and magnesium baths are fantastic ways to support detox, reduce inflammation, destress, and promote relaxation. In addition to warm baths, gua sha, using the sauna, dry brushing, and castor oil packs are beneficial for detoxification. Make sure to take time for yourself and for the things you enjoy. Prioritize journaling, prayer, quiet time, and set aside time to engage in the things that please you.



Sleep without a fan


It's becoming more popular for individuals to fall asleep to fans. Don't let the cool breeze and soothing sounds fool you; fans (including ceiling fans) that produce air make people more prone to lung infections and head colds. If you want to gain the benefits of sleeping in a cold environment, set your AC to a lower temperature. Personally, I keep my AC set at 69 degrees!



Stay active


Physical activity is crucial during every season; however, it becomes much more difficult with the colder, darker weather. Many people cut back on exercise when winter comes, and their energy levels plummet. Additionally, portion sizes get larger and people tend to stray away from their typical diets during the holiday season. Exercise plays many roles in keeping your body functioning optimally. It strengthens your muscles and bones, aids in stress management, improves mental health, reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease, improves glycemic control, helps control weight, boosts energy, improves blood circulation, results in better sleep quality, and enhances the immune system. If that isn't enough to convince you how important physical activity is, I don't know what will!

My favorite ways to stay active during the winter include going nature walks (make sure to bundle up!), at home/online workouts or pilates classes, or going to the gym to lift weights. Going ice-skating, snowboarding, sledding, or skiing are also great ways to stay active if you're the sporty type.

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