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Boost your winter health

Follow this vitality-boosting guide and stay happy and healthy all season long.

As the days grow shorter and colder, our bodies become more vulnerable to the stresses and strains of winter. To maintain our peak mental and physical performance

we need to prime our bodies for those colder months ahead – and one way of doing this is by tweaking our diet and eating habits. Ready to kiss those winter ills goodbye? Try these science-backed tips and tricks to put the spring back in your step and give your body that extra oomph it needs.

1. Make a shopping list

Planning your meals in advance not only gives you one less thing to worry about, it also allows for huge control over what you eat. In a study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, people who used food planning strategies ate healthier diets than those who didn’t. As we move into the colder months it’s easy to let good habits slip. By pre-planning and batch-cooking meals you can ensure you’re ticking all the nutritional boxes. Top tip: Factor more protein into your winter meal plans - our bodies use it to make the antioxidant glutathione, which protects us from potential pathogens and invaders.

2. Make time for tea

The humble brew can prove a great tool for revving up our fat-burning engines in winter. In a study from the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that oolong tea boosted energy expenditure and improved fat-burning rate. Matcha green tea has also been shown to fight infections in the body, while caffeine-free rooibos contains many antioxidants proven to protect the liver. To get the full benefit of those herbal helpers you need to brew it right. For black teas and herbals, use boiling water, and for more delicate greens, oolongs and whites, brew in slightly cooler water. Leave to infuse for three or four minutes to allow for full flavour extraction.

3. Tuck into kimchi

Studies have shown that eating fermented foods is an effective way to boost gut health, thanks to their probiotic content. Kimchi and natto are two types of fermented vegetable that have been studied for their health benefits and, along with their probiotic perks, they have been shown to have antioxidant properties, supporting skin and brain health, and immune function. You can easily make fermented foods at home using an empty jar. Submerge your veggies in salt water, or preferably their own juice, and put the lid on, opening it every couple of days to release the gas. Depending on the vegetable, the process should take three to four weeks. Just be sure to use non-chlorinated water to prevent damage to the probiotic.

4. Swig some bone broth

Broths provide useful fluids, minerals, vitamins, protein and essential fatty acids to help combat dry skin and stiff joints during winter. Kombu [kelp] broth has become a popular broth of choice during the colder months. To make, simply take 15–20g of kombu seaweed and soak in a litre of water in a pan for half an hour. Then bring to a very gentle simmer for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly brown some chopped carrots, onion, celery, parsley, garlic and fresh herbs in some olive or coconut oil.

Remove the kombu and any residue from the stock and add the browned vegeables. Bring to the boil, then immediately reduce again to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until reduced by about half. The broth is now ready to eat.

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