Cold, dark, wet, gloomy, work schedules, bad mood, summer nostalgia – all these are autumn-winter feelings which provoke more and more often our necessity to eat something sweet … and there’s nothing strange in this – the sweet improves the mood, as endorphins’ synthesis is increased – these are the happiness hormones. While we spontaneously reduce the intake of calories in the summer heats, the arrival of the cold weather should not be a pretext to build up reserves of protective layer of fat, exactly the opposite – our lifestyle in the winter season: heating, closed transportation, lots of clothes, actually decrease our daily needs of energy from the food.
The natural defense forces of the organism are tested in winter, and different viruses stalk from everywhere – that’s why nutrition in these months, among other things, should stimulate our immunity. No matter how familiar and banal it sounds, the main thing is to observe the principles of healthy eating. The classic principles are also the basis of modern balanced nutrition – one should eat in moderate amounts, but with many various foods. It is not recommended to observe strict and restrictive diets in winter, when the risk of infectious diseases is increased.
The healthy weight is the base of good immunity – overweight, as well as underweight, interferes with immune functions. People with obesity more often suffer from respiratory diseases and show higher risk of infections after surgery. A decreased response of both T- and B- lymphocytes – important protective cells of the immune system, is seen in overweight. The high content of fat in the food suppresses the function of other basic immune cells – the T-cells and the natural “killer cells”. It is proven that the capacity of the immune “killer cells” is increased when the intake of fat is reduced from 32% of the energy value of the food to 22%, as not only the quantity but also the type of fat is important. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids which are found mainly in sunflower oil, stimulate the production of cytokines – substances that are released from macrophages and other immune cells in response to viral or bacterial infection.
Although cytokines are important for the proper function of the immune system, they play a major damaging role in the inflammatory processes when they are produced in excessive amounts. Fish fats, however, are rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids which inhibit the release of cytokines and reduce their proinflammatory action. Deficit of some vitamins is also present in the autumn-winter months: vitamin D which fights against the lack of calcium comes from fish, eggs and dairy products, and it is synthesized by our skin under the action of the sun rays, the reduction of solar radiation leads to its deficit; vitamin A is responsible for strengthening the body’s natural defense and increases the resistance against respiratory infections. This vitamin is found in many products: carrots, green vegetables, exotic fruits; the famous vitamin C has active anti-microbial action and stimulates the white blood cells in the synthesis of antibodies, moreover it favors the formation of interferon – a substance that prevents the development of viruses. It is located in many fruits – kiwi, citruses, as well as in garlic and leek onion.
Vitamin B1 and B2 are precious in the fight against autumn-winter fatigue, develop the memory functions and help the body to process and use iron. Vitamin B1 which is water-soluble does not accumulate in the body: therefore it is necessary to take it daily with the food. It is found both in products of animal origin and in cereals. Vitamin B2 is extremely important for the energy balance because of its metabolic role in the biochemistry of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, participating in their transformation into energy. Furthermore, vitamin B2 is a growth factor, cleanses and energizes the skin and hair.