Want to keep warm and have your skin thrive this winter season? Let’s see what trusty old Ayurveda has got to say about warm foods you should consume during the harsh winters!
When the word winter comes to mind, the first thing which pops up is a hot cup of your favourite brew or your mother’s famous warm delicacy. Did you now that the food we eat is closely associated with the weather? Ritucharya is an ancient Ayurvedic practice and is comprised of two words, “Ritu” which means season and “charya” which means Regimen or discipline. Ritucharya consists of lifestyle and ayurvedic diet routine to cope with the bodily and mental impacts caused by seasonal changes as recommended by Ayurveda. Ritucharya is a powerful, health giving ayurvedic tool that helps us live according to the changes in season and make internal adjustments so that our doshas are in a state of balance. People do not know or ignore the suitable types of food stuffs to be followed in particular season, this leads to derangement of homeostasis and causes various diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and so on.
Ayurveda divides the winter season as early winter (Hemant) and late winter (Shishir). Mid-January to mid-March (approximately) is considered as Shishir Ritu. During this season, the environment remains cold, along with cold wind. Foods having Amla (sour) as the predominant taste are preferred. Cereals and pulses, wheat/gram flour products, new rice, corn, and others, are advised. Ginger, garlic, Haritaki, Pippali, sugarcane products, and milk and milk products are to be included in the diet. Choose salty, sour, and sweet tastes as well as soothing and satisfying foods.
In India, Sarson ka Saag is a preparation of green sarson leaves, best served with Makke ki roti is a much-awaited delicious Punjabi delicacy. Thukpa is an Indo-Tibetan noodle soup with a flavorful broth and this piping hot veggie bowl is perfect to keep you warm and cozy. Undhiyu is a dish that takes hours to make but the effort that goes into the making of it definitely pays off at the end. Mixed vegetables, fenugreek, lots of ghee and spices are what comprises of this wintery-Gujrati delicacy. Lapsi is a breakfast sweet consumed especially in Gujarat and parts of Rajasthan. A generous amount of ghee, dry fruits, broken wheat, and raisins are put into the dish.
10 Ayurvedic Warming Foods to Try This Winter for Healthy Skin and Hair
India has an abundance of fresh whole foods which help our body stay warm in harsh climates. Some of the most effective warming foods for winter season for healthy skin and hair are as follows:
Ghee is rich in important nutrients like vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid. It may also help reduce gut inflammation and support heart health. Pure Ghee is prepared in such a way as to be clear of any milk impurities and hence is easy to digest. Ghee is now recognized by the whole world as it makes your inner as well as outer body healthy due to the presence of good cholesterol/good fats. The famous Gajar ka Halwa is the go-to dessert during the winter in every household. Just the sight of the piping hot-halwa immersed in ghee makes you salivate. You can also eat a spoonful of pure ghee early in the morning to lubricate your digestive tract and have healthy bowel movements. Ghee on a hot paratha or roti is everyone’s favourite! In Maharashtra, lots of ghee is poured on puran poli (which is a roti stuffed with jaggery and chana dal, famously eaten during Holi) to warm the body from within.
Jaggery is a better alternative to sugar and what most people don’t realize, it has immense health benefits. Since it is packed with a good amount of magnesium, it helps in smooth digestion and averts acidity. Therefore, it MUST be a part of your daily diet in the winter season. It generates heat inside the body. It helps boosts immunity, helps prevent constipation and enhances the production of digestive enzymes, jaggery also helps in preventing joint pain, it detoxifies the body, eating jaggery can also ease menstrual cramp pain. Jaggery helps increase energy levels to fuel an otherwise sluggish constitution.
Replace sugar in your daily cup of chai with jaggery and you will be mind-blown at how much warmer and energized your body feels. Use jaggery to sweeten your kheer, rabdi, etc and incorporate this healthy sweetener in your diet. Eating a spoonful of jaggery post meal will do your body wonders.
Turmeric — and especially its most active compound, curcumin — have many scientifically proven health benefits, such as the potential to improve heart health and prevent against Alzheimer's and cancer. It's a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Turmeric powder increases the production of enzymes that help detoxify the body. It also works as an internal cleanse and promotes healthy liver functioning. It is an immunity booster, protecting the body from cold during winters. It also naturally raises your body temperature making you feel warm and cozy.
We advise you to drink warm turmeric milk before bed to keep your body warm at night. Also, as an Indian, we add turmeric to absolutely everything, may it be a vegetable or curry. This also helps our skin to be glowing and acne-free.
India has a variety of spices that will keep us healthy and warm in winter. They have many wonderful antimicrobial properties, which enhance their medicinal properties and provide resistance to fight against diseases. Especially if you are living in a very wet and cold climate, spicy food can help to make you warmer and sweat, thus removing 'dampness' from the body. You can add the following spices to curry, soups, even desserts like kheer to add more flavor and protect your body during winters:
Ginger is referred to as a winter food as it leaves a warming effect behind. As studies have shown that ginger can help you stay warm during the winter season. It will also boost digestion and help you fight stomach issues. Add a small amount of ginger to your daily cup of tea with a little bit of honey.
Cinnamon has been used since medieval times to treat sore throat, cough, and arthritis. It has more anti-oxidants than well-known spices like garlic and oregano. Cinnamon is a classic cold-weather spice, though it's favored year-round, its scent invokes thoughts of warmth and comfort.
Fenugreek has been used as a spice, herb, medicine, and food for centuries and has also been advised to eat in winters to improve immunity and to protect the heart, brain, and other vital organs inside the body through its medicinal properties.
Black Pepper has been a part of Ayurvedic medicines, which are known to alleviate cold, cough, and rev up your immunity naturally. This pungent spice mixed with honey is a trusted tonic across Indian households as a natural cough suppressant.
Cloves have an ample number of anti-inflammatory compounds, which can come in handy during times of sore throat, cough, cold, and sinusitis. It also has a cooling effect on the nasal cavity and throat.
Black cardamom is very effective in boosting immunity. It is rich in antioxidants that help in detoxification of the blood and also aids better digestion. You can add cardamom pods in tea, or have them with water, or chew them raw.
Tulsi has anti-bacterial, anti-biotic and anti-viral properties that helps in keeping the body healthy. You can add this versatile herb not only in your teas, but also in your salads and dips.
5. Dry Fruits
Dry fruits are one of the healthiest alternatives to fried or oily snacks and a great way to satisfy your food cravings in the winters. Dry fruits also provide you the much-needed nutrients, vitamins and warmth in the chilly winter season. They indeed are a quick and delicious way to get energy during a busy day. They are rich in Vitamin E and possess anti-ageing properties which will keep you glowing this winter. Dry fruits are helpful in dealing with a host of winter related problems such as cold and flu.
Many of us have warm milk with cereals in the mornings to charge up the rest of our day. To keep your body warm during the day, you can add nuts like almonds, walnuts and pistachios to your breakfast table. You can also make homemade chikkis with an assortment of dry fruits to have a DIY snack bar on hand!
Almond has antimicrobial properties that help to fight various infections and also keeps your skin healthy and soft. They are perfect for fighting hunger cravings during winter. Figs are rich in fiber and minerals and thus helpful in cold etc. Figs have proven to be a good source of treatment of diseases such as asthma, cough, etc., which are very common in winters. With pistachios, one can keep themselves full for a long time. Besides these, it also helps to improve stamina and immunity.
6. Root Vegetables
Carrots, onions, beetroot, sweet potato, amaranth are some of the varieties that can help you stay both healthy and warm this winter. These foods are loaded with rich sources of nutrients like beta-carotene and vitamin C. Adding them to your dals, vegetables and soups can benefit you with an assortment of food that compliments your fitness routine. These vegetables that are in season during the colder months are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and minerals like potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, beta-carotene and more. All root vegetables are an excellent source of dietary fiber and hence ensure smooth digestion in the dark winter months.
A perfect accompanist to your rice meals, Beetroot Thora, is a South Indian winter specialty packed with a whole lot of nutrition and flavor. Thoran is cooked with chillies and Haldi, and the beetroot is stir-fried along with the spices to complete the dish. It is said to be a winter dish because it has a perfect blend of sweet and spicy, which is just the remedy for the chills!
7. Whole Grains and Pulses
Bajra (Pearl Millet), Jowar (Millet), Makkai (Maize), Jau(Barley), Ragi(Finger Millet) are some of the common types of whole grain cereals that can be included in your roti that accompanies your favourite pickle so that you don’t miss out on the fun that winter foods have to offer you! Similarly, pulses like Moong Dal can be used not only for dinner but to can savored in the form of Halwa as well.
It reduces cholesterol, high blood pressure and inflammation in the body as well as giving it a protein and fiber boost. Whole grains are a source of healthy carbs that fuel our body processes efficiently.
Leafy green vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. They're packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber but low in calories. Eating a diet rich in leafy greens can offer numerous health benefits including reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.
Spinach contains some essential vitamins like A, B, C, E, K, zinc, magnesium and large amounts of iron that is necessary for the red blood cells in the body. For all these reasons you can definitely call spinach a super food. Spinach can be used in salads or you can simply make a dish with paneer.
Cauliflower is very low in calories yet high in vitamins. In fact, cauliflower contains some of almost every vitamin and mineral that you need. Cauliflower is a great source of antioxidants, which protect your cells from harmful free radicals and inflammation.
Green peas are high in starch or complex carbs. They are low in calories and rich in fibre, protein, Vitamin A and Vitamin K. They are also a good source manganese, iron, folate and thiamine. High protein, fibre and low-calories are some benefits of green peas.
Capsaicin, a chemical found in peppers, is known to induce thermogenesis which is the process of converting energy into heat by the body. When we bite into a hot green chilli, this is the process that makes our ears go red, temples sweat and body temperature rise. This also explains food in the mountain regions of India is spiced heavily with chillies as well as other warming spices like cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves. Eating chili in winter can not only keep out the cold but also prevent diseases. Chilli peppers are loaded with vitamin C, which further helps in strengthening your immunity. It is a must-have in winters as it keeps your immunity high and also provides warmth to the body.
Seeds are great sources of fiber. They also contain healthy monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. When consumed as part of a healthy diet, seeds can help reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Black or white, Sesame seeds taste amazing in salads, snacks, dips, curries and desserts. Sesame seeds are versatile and give an essential boost to your immunity.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in healthy fatty acids, minerals like potassium, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper. They also have a high concentration of vitamins and antioxidants, which helps in generating enough heat to keep the winter chill away. You can dry roast pumpkin seeds and have them as a snack or add them to your meals to get some extra crunch.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, Chia seeds have a healing effect on the skin. Fiber and protein content in chia strengthen hair roots and promote growth. Consumption of chia seeds in the morning especially on an empty stomach is considered to be the best time to consume them.
In conclusion, the food we consume during different seasons of the year have a great effect on your mind and body. Change in weather calls for a change in diet and during winters, eating these 10 warming foods will do your skin and hair so good. If you have any fun winter recipes to share, please let us know in the comments and stay warm this winter!