Common Health Concerns and Healthy Eating in the winter
Myron Yau, HK BioTek Nutritionist
Autumn and winter is coming soon. Therefore, we will discuss the health and eating questions that are likely to associate with autumn and winter in a series of three episodes. This first episode describes some health problems commonly seen in autumn and winter and seasonal dietary tips; The second and third episodes will teach you how to have hotpot and barbecue meals respectively in a healthy and tasty manner.
Then, what are the common health problems? Firstly, research suggests that prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is commonly seen in subjects after the fall. It is probably because people always wear thick and long-sleeved clothes and trousers in a cold weather rendering not enough sunlight exposure onto the skin of human body in order to produce sufficient vitamin D subcutaneously. Also, shortened daylight period may take an account. Secondly, as human body adjusts its own temperature automatically in a cold environment by sacrificing its peripheral temperature in exchange for constant core temperature, this leads to freezing lambs. Thirdly, weight gain during autumn and winter is another common problem.
According to a research done in USA, a subject population gains an average weight of 0.5 kg after autumn and winter, which may account for gradual weight gain throughout adulthood. There may be multiple reasons behind including presences of numerous major festivals in autumn and winter in which many celebrating dinners will be eaten, lack of exercise in cold weather and the traditional supplementation with nutritious foods during autumn and winter. Finally, one of the favorite activities of many middle-aged adults in cold weather is drinking spirits which increases the risk of getting excessive intake of alcohol.
In response to the problems above, there is something that we can do with our diet. Although we cannot change sunshine in autumn and winter, we can increase intake of vitamin D in diet from vitamin D rich foods, such as milk and dairy products, egg yolk, fish liver oil, animal liver, dark-green and yellow-red vegetables, etc. If you want to warm up your body by drinks other than spirits, you are strongly advised to drink hot ginger tea or ginseng tea. Yet moderate intake of spirits is good for healthy individuals. In fact, human body raises the metabolic rate automatically, increasing heat generation and thus maintaining constant body temperature. As such, cold weather is definitely a good time for weight loss. However, appetite becomes stronger at the same time, which may bring certain difficulties to weight management. The most important is controlling the quantity of foods that you eat and exercise regularly in weight management.