Nutrition for Winter

Dear Reader- 

Here at Dr. Willard’s® we’re passionate about health and we love to read articles about a variety of ways to maintain good health.  To that end we’ve begun asking writers with expertise in this arena to submit blogs that our followers might find interesting.  This next blog in our series is about making sure you’re doing everything possible to stay healthy during the cold and flu season.  It was written by an Indian scientist named Dr. Aduja Naik and is only available on the Dr. Willard’s® social media pages.  We hope you enjoy it!

Making Sure You’re Getting the Nutrition You Need for Winter

Winter months are synonymous with the ‘cold and flu season’ as much as the ‘festive season’. Time to celebrate with friends and family and no one wants to be left out. From Halloween to Valentine’s day, the body undergoes numerous occasions of over-eating, excessive consumption of refined sugar and unhealthy fats, and over-indulgence of alcohol. This has adverse effects on the immune system and leaves us more vulnerable to those nasty cold and flu viruses. Hence, it is essential to eat well balanced, nutritious food that not only provides energy but also boosts your immunity and elevates your mood (during wintertime blues). It’s also important that you supplement your diet with whatever vitamins and nutrients you may be lacking from your normal diet.  Here are some tips to make sure you stay healthy this winter by eating right!

Energy intake

The average energy intake per day is ~1800 kcal for children, ~2,200 kcal for adult females and ~2,800 kcal for adult males [1] which is contributed by the consumption of carbohydrates, proteins and fats from food. Drastic increase or reduction in calorie intake can have a negative effect on the immune system. Therefore, a wise choice of foods such hot tea, broth-based soup and nuts, in addition to the normal diet, are recommended to keep warm during the cold season. Include more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and whole grain into your daily diet to compensate for the indulgences. Protein foods such as legumes, fish lean meat and soy products curbs sugar cravings and creates a feeling of fullness.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Consuming Omega-3 fatty acids is important throughout the year for their antihypertensive, anticancer, antioxidant, anti-depression, anti-aging, and anti-arthritis effects, and particularly in winter to maintain healthy hair and glowing skin [2]. Increase your Omega-3 fatty acids intake by adding more cold-water fish like salmon, halibut and mackerel to your diet and snacking on flax seeds and walnuts.


Vitamins are cofactors that mediate various chemical reactions in our body and are required for normal growth and development and are potent immunity boosters.

Vitamin A: Food sources include liver, orange and yellow fruits, fish and milk [3]. This vitamin helps to maintain a healthy mucosal lining (in mouth, stomach, lungs and intestines) and prevent infections.

Vitamin C: Bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, broccoli, berries, oranges, tomatoes, green peas and papayas are rich in Vitamin C [3]. It doesn’t really cure cold and flu but shortens the duration and intensity of the symptoms. The recommended intake of Vitamin C for males is 90mg/day while females need 75mg/day [4].

Vitamin D: Tendency to remain indoors, heavy clothing and lower Ultraviolet radiations from the sun during winter, poses the risk of Vitamin D deficiency which can cause rickets in children [5] and Osteoporosis in adults [6]. The best natural sources of Vitamin D are fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna and mackerel), fish liver oils and smaller amounts are found in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms [3]. The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) of Vitamin D for infants is 400 IU (International Units), 600 IU for children and adults including pregnant and lactating women, and 800 IU for people aged >70 years [7].

Probiotics and prebiotics

Fermented Dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and kefir are foods rich in probiotics. Include yogurt with live cultures of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria more often in your diet. These bacteria colonize the gastrointestinal tract and prebiotics (a type of fiber found in chicory root, artichoke, garlic, leek, etc.) acts as their food. Together, they maintain a healthy gut and enhance the immune system.


Zinc and Selenium are two major minerals which can help prevent cold. Zinc blocks cold viruses from attaching cell membranes as well as reduces duration and severity of cold symptoms [8]. Dietary sources of zinc are oysters, crab, lobster, meat, poultry, whole grains and beans. Selenium is known to influence the ability of the immune system and respond to infections [9] and this mineral is found in meat, seafood and whole-grain cereal.

Chicken soup

Scientific evidence [10] has proven that the good old chicken soup actually works as a remedy for upper respiratory disorders. The various substances in the soup have beneficial medicinal activity and overall it has a mild anti-inflammatory effect.

Natural foods contain a plethora of nutrients which work synergistically for complete well-being of the human body compared to nutritional supplements (which provide one or two nutrients). Wholesome nutrition along with personal hygiene and regular exercise will ensure not only a good, illness-free winter but a healthy life ahead.


  1. NIH, Calories needed each day.
  1. Siriwardhana N, Kalupahana NS, Moustaid-Moussa N. Health benefits of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. 2012; 65:211-22. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-416003-3.00013-5.
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2011. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,
  1. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids (2000).
  1. Wharton B, Bishop N. Rickets. Lancet 2003; 362:1389-400.
  1. Heaney RP. Long-latency deficiency disease: insights from calcium and vitamin D. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003; 78:912-9.
  1. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.
  1. Hulisz D. Efficacy of zinc against common cold viruses: an overview. Journal of American Pharmacists Association 2004 Sep-Oct; 44(5):594-603.
  1. Spallholz J.E., Boylan L.M., Larsen H.S. Advances in understanding selenium’s role in the immune system. Annals of the New York Academy of Science. 1990; 587:123–139.
  1. Rennard BO, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, Robbins RA, Rennard SI. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest. 2000 Oct; 118(4):1150-7.


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