It’s not your imagination — weathering winter gets tougher the older you get. You probably have less energy to tackle cleaning snow from your windshield, or pushing the shopping cart through frozen slush. But if you follow your impulse to just hibernate and indulge in rich, sugary treats, your already fluctuating hormone and energy levels will get even more unpredictable.
Older adults need extra Vitamin D. The sun provides less of this vital nutrient in the winter, making diet an even more important resource for vitamin D. Tuna, mackerel and salmon are among the only foods naturally high in the vitamin.
Fish is also rich in protein, which stabilizes blood sugar and hormone levels. These two functions most likely fluctuate wildly in the wintertime, when we become less active and have less sunlight. In addition, fish is easier to digest than other animal-based protein, meaning you get more of that hormone-regulating benefit that’s so important starting in your 40s.
Along with fish, you’ll find a wide range of foods fortified with Vitamin D. On your superfoods list, look for cereals, dairy milk, plant-based milk, and orange juice labeled as fortified with both Vitamin D and calcium. (Calcium, which you need year-round for bone protection, is also crucial for helping you absorb the Vitamin D).
Feel Your Oats
Everyone turns to zinc tablets at the first sign of a cold. But why not consume zinc more regularly, to prevent illness in the first place? Oatmeal is rich in the mineral. Not only does this hot cereal warm you up before facing the elements, it also provides complex carbs that won’t send you into a sugar crash mid-morning.
Savor Soup Season
Soup is on top of just about everyone’s list of cold weather comfort foods. Besides being inherently comforting, vegetable soup is chock-full of the nutrients you need to boost your immunity during cold and flu season. As a bonus, a broth-based soup provides extra hydration, which your wind-chapped cheeks and overworked organs will thank you for.
When you want something heartier, turn to root vegetables. They’re not just for the winter holiday table! Mashed sweet potatoes, roasted carrots, turnip puree are all great options. Whatever your favorite root veggies, your body will thank you for the extra fiber and vitamins, especially A and C. And don’t forget your beets! This root vegetable is especially high in Vitamin B6, which gives you extra energy for those wintertime “blahs.”