Winter wellbeing: how to support your health this season

Close up of woman's hands holding a bowl of warming soup

It’s that time of year when we often feel slightly under par, or worse, succumb to an infection of some kind.  The winter months can take their toll on the body in more ways than one. 

However, if we pay good attention to the body’s nutritional needs during this time, we can sail through and spring into the next season in better shape, both mentally and physically.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her top five ways of keeping healthy, strong, and positive during the winter months.


Keep the body warm internally

Obviously, when it’s cold on the outside, we need to warm the body from the inside.  This not only makes life more comfortable, but it provides what the body naturally craves.  If it’s not provided, the body will become more stressed if its needs aren’t met.


Nature is of course very clever, and provides plenty of nutrient-dense, carbohydrate-rich root vegetables during the winter months to support energy levels and provide the wealth of nutrients the body needs.  It’s the very reason why we tend to crave warming soups and stews when it’s cold outside.  Parsnips, turnips, white potatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash are all readily available and waiting to be eaten.

shutterstock_512603368 chilli con carne Mar17

Additionally, there are plenty of warming herbs and spices the body loves at this time of year too, including ginger and garlic which are great for the immune system. Turmeric is excellent for the liver and joints and chilli peppers certainly provide internal warmth.  

So, get the slow cooker out from the back of the cupboard, and chop as many root vegetables as you can into your stew or soup, to really support your body this winter.

Eat plenty of Vitamin C rich foods

Vitamin C is an especially hardworking vitamin and is essential for protecting the immune system. We certainly need to be supporting immunity as much as possible through the winter months in order to avoid the myriad infections floating around us.

shutterstock_362885486 vitamin C Jan17

Vitamin C naturally helps encourage production of white blood cells (one of the main parts of the immune system) but is also antiviral and antibacterial.  The good news is that it’s widely available in most fruits and vegetables (including root vegetables), but especially in red peppers, citrus fruits, berries, and green leafy vegetables.

A green smoothie

So, load up your plate with lots of colour variety – the more the merrier.  You might also want to consider juicing to increase vitamin C intake; apple, beetroot, ginger, spinach, and carrot make a tasty, nutrient-packed combination.

Get some herbal help

We know that nature has provided some amazing herbs in its medicine chest.  Top of the list is the herb echinacea which has been used for thousands of years to help fight off colds and infections.  However, it’s much more effective when used as a preventative of colds and flu and many people take it throughout the winter months, especially if they find themselves around lots of unwell people.

Echinacea flower and tea

Echinacea has many modes of action, but essentially, it increases the number of natural killer cells in the immune system, helping the body fight off unwanted invaders. Try these effervescent tablets.

Take exercise in the fresh air

It’s important to take exercise all year round; it not only uprates the immune response, but helps lift our mood, which is very important during the dark, winter months.


When it’s cold and wet outside, it’s often difficult to get motivated.  However, the benefits of exercising in the cold, whether running, walking or cycling, are not only going to make you feel better, but you’ll also burn more calories as the body tries to maintain its normal body temperature.

Additionally, if you can face the hot/cold ‘medicine’, then research is very clear that using a sauna and then plunging into a cold pool can be really beneficial for the immune system.

Protect yourself with red, green, and orange foods

Why?  Because they are all rich sources of carotenoids.  These are a group of nutrients which includes probably one of the more well-known, beta-carotene.  The carotenoids are powerful antioxidants so not only keep us looking younger but support the immune system too.

A range of colourful fruit and vegetablesThere are plenty of carotenoid-rich foods around at this time of year including spinach, kale, pink grapefruit, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and carrots.  Try to include at least one in your diet every day during the winter months.  And the carotenoids also protect against sun damage, so eating more of these foods now can help to protect you through the summer months too.


And finally, don’t forget to take your vitamin D supplement throughout the winter for great immune support too!


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All images: Shutterstock

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