HEALTH + WELLNESS
If you, like me, live in Northern regions, winter can get really cold and depressing. It’s important as African people to take care of our health, especially in alien regions that do not mean the unique needs of our bodies. This is the time to be eating a lot of root vegetables, clear soups and teas. Among my favourite teas for winter are: St John’s wort (this helps with the depression due to lack of sun and light); chamomile tea (a lovely immune-booster); ginseng tea (another immune-booster!) and of course peppermint! Read below for vitamins you should stockpile for the dreary season ahead.
Cod Liver Oil
Yes, the oil we had been force-fed as a child makes me cringe, too. It tastes awful but this is some really powerful stuff for many reasons. For one thing, it has a high level of Vitamin D and for people with melanin this is a great, easy way to inject this vitamin into the body during low sun months. Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to serious health problems.
Also, cod liver oil has a high level of Omega-3s which is why our parents probably told us taking cod liver oil would help us be “the head, and not the tail of the class”. It certainly helps with cognitive function and helps boost the immune from disease and inflammation. Along with St John’s wort, cod liver oil is another natural way to fight the winter blues. If you find you are depressed in the winter, take some cod liver oil! Other benefits are: preventing heart disease, osteoporosis; lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure, protects eye sight, preventing kidney disease and healing skin wounds and fractures.
Don’t forget your Vitamin C this winter too to help ward off illness, and speed up cell reproduction. Ascorbic acid is not the entire vitamin C though and it is best to reap the full benefits of vitamin C by eating orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. This is the time to make the curried butternut squash soups and make those papaya smoothies. As well as fighting those colds and flus, vitamin C is important for brain function as well. Other foods naturally rich in vitamin C include: all citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwifruit, bell peppers, guava (who doesn’t like guava juice??), dark leafy greens like spinach and kale (who else is thinking calaloo?), broccoli, cauliflower and melons. If you puree cauliflower with garlic and make cauliflower soup–you have a super cold and flu fighter!
Exercise + Fresh Air
I’m an all-season cyclist, and I take my 2 year old son out in the snow on the bike trailer every day. Being outside regularly, even in the frigid cold, actually really helps you feel great. If we have been cooped up too long in the house, even a 20 minute walk around the neighbourhood climbing snow piles is refreshing.
Other ways to get in some daily exercise is skating, skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, cycling, going to an indoor swimming pool and sledding down a nearby hill. Just playing some Tag with the children in the snow, making snowmen and having a plain old snow-fight still counts as exercise too. Grabbing a cup of tea and going for a walk with your special person or friends, admiring the holiday lighting or an outside performance will keep those winter blues at bay. Plus, if you have some yummy immune-boosting soup waiting for you at home, there’s plenty of reasons to smile and be healthy this cold season!