February marks the dead of winter for some. Common side effects include a constant runny nose, cold hands and feet and a nagging internal chill. Aside from barricading yourself inside a cozy cabin for five months what can you do to warm up? Certain foods are considered thermogenic (also known as diet-induced thermogenesis): meaning as the food is digested it raises the body temperature. Obvious suggestions are to eat soups, stews and broth to keep warm-other ways to increase body temperature would be to incorporate foods that do the work internally during digestion. The following foods are excellent choices to keep old man winter at bay and warm up your body.
“That’s a spicy meat-a-ball!”
Hot peppers-the capsicum family-heat up your core body temperature. Capsaicin is the active compound that heats us up, so the more capsaicin consumed the more you will warm up. Caution is warranted when using them in recipes: habanero peppers are at the top of the hot list, so only the brave and seasoned should try these! Steam shooting out your ears and sweat pouring down your forehead is not an exaggeration…however the less aggressive peppers can be incorporated into soups and sauces. Ginger-considered a warming food and also helpful for stomach upsets-is a wonderful addition to recipes. Fresh ginger and lemon makes a very soothing tea that also activates thermogenesis.
“Put the lime in the coconut”
Coconut oil or more specifically, the medium-chain triglycerides within the coconut, show a thermogenic effect many times over. Combining healthy fats with quality protein sources, such as fish, chicken, beans or nuts will promote satiety and increase body warmth. Remember increasing body temperature does not necessarily coincide with heated or cooked foods. Even a diet of raw food can keep you warm if followed properly.
Green is hot
Green tea is a well-loved drink full of antioxidants and nutrients responsible for thermogenic effects on the body (catechin polyphenols to be exact). Besides being a comforting and healthy hot drink it contains active compounds to turn up the internal heat.
Root vegetables require more time to digest and break down than other quickly digested foods such as leafy greens. The longer it takes for the body to process and digest the more the body warms up. So be sure to add plenty of sweet potatoes, turnips, yams and onions to your soups, stir-frys and stews.
But I eat plenty of chicken…
High protein diets may help with the process of thermogenesis. Protein doesn’t have to be meat, so you can vary the types of proteins you eat. For example, fish and chicken are fine a few times per week; add beans, lentils, nuts and seeds to balance out your diet. These high quality sources will ensure that you receive an adequate amount of protein for overall health and will cut down on the winter chill.
Of course, don’t forget to cuddle up to your favourite person and/or pet… nothing makes you feel warmer than a hug!
Photo credit: Zokuga