Now that winter is officially here and temperatures are plummeting, our bodies are much more vulnerable to viruses and infectious diseases. The best way to protect ourselves during these seasonal transitions is to boost our metabolism, and the most efficient and easy way to do this is to change our diet.
According to dietician Yıldız Melek Aksoylu, mom was right by feeding us chicken soup and broth packed with loads of vegetables. Not only do they help us replace the salt and fluids we might lose throughout the day, but they are also packed with all of the essential vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to produce the cells that fend off diseases.
“When you are sick, consuming chicken soup and broth is also important not just for fighting the disease but for restoring the liquids you lose while you are ill,” Aksoylu said, adding that soup can also provide symptom relief thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
“The proteins that such soups contain are also crucial for cell production and repair. They have antiseptic properties and are reformative,” Aksoylu said.
She said adding a range of spices – especially garlic, ginger, turmeric and black pepper – to our soups and meals is important as they support the immune system, regulate blood sugar and are helpful for maintaining heart health.
Especially during the cold winter months, it is important to bolster our immune system and metabolism to fight against diseases such as colds and the flu more easily, and to realize this goal, we need to have a diet rich in antioxidants.
Besides mom's classic chicken soup and clear broths, consuming fresh fruits rich in vitamins and antioxidants is also crucial for a healthy body and strong metabolism. Aksoylu said that pineapples and kiwis are perfect fruits to meet our daily vitamin C intake. She said that it is okay to consume these fruits every day and add other fruits into the mix like grapefruits and blueberries for an added boost.
"Don't forget about your greens," Aksoylu said, adding that green vegetables such as broccoli, green peppers, spinach and parsley are also great sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin E is another vitamin that plays a crucial role in strengthening the immune system as well as the skin's barrier and joints, the doctor said, advising people to consume healthy fats through foods such as avocados, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, peanuts and coconuts.
“Do not give up Omega-3s in your diet either,” Aksoylu said, emphasizing that they are one of the most useful fatty acids for the heart and brain. "You can increase your Omega-3 intake by consuming flax seeds, walnuts and zucchinis in addition to fish," she said, adding that Omega-3 could also help with acne and boost skin health thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
"Selenium is also a good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It's anti-cancer. It also helps strengthen your skin, hair and nails. Spinach, mushrooms, flax seeds and eggs are selenium-rich foods,” she said.