Staying Healthy During Winter Months and Holidays

As the sky turns grey in Portland, it’s not just the seasons that are changing. Our dietary and fitness routines face their own chilly challenges. While we wrap up in layers and revel in the holiday cheer, it’s crucial to not lose sight of our physical and mental well-being. At Portland Integrative Fitness, we believe in a holistic approach to health. This festive season, let’s explore the symbiosis of nourishing foods and tailored fitness plans. By integrating strategic snacking and smart meal choices with our professional guidance, you’ll not only stay warm but also emerge stronger and more resilient.

Winter Wellness: Nutritional Powerhouses to Support Your Immune System

As the holidays approach, our lives often become increasingly stressful without any pause in our busy schedules. Packed schedules and lack of sun leave us vulnerable to vitamin and mineral deficiency, which have a direct effect on immune system function and energy balance. Strategic snacking can really make a difference in how you feel and function when we need to perform our best.

We’ll focus on the heavy hitters. Foods that are high in Vitamin D, high in magnesium, rich in antioxidants, and fermented foods are proven to promote a healthy, well-balanced gut microbiota, supporting mental well-being and resilience to viruses.

Since stress is a major player in our lives, let’s learn which foods provide the most support.

Combat Seasonal Stress: Foods That Help Balance Your Mood and Energy

Magnesium: Magnesium interacts with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis – aka your stress response system. Magnesium can reduce adrenocorticotrophic hormone, cortisol, and endocrine secretion, which can help combat stressors in life. The average adult should be in taking around 420mg of magnesium daily. Foods high in magnesium are cashews, almonds, avocados, black beans, salmons, raisins, apples, carrots, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a steroid hormone. Basically, this means it activates receptor neurons in the body that are responsible for mood, behavior, and cardiovascular function. Foods rich in vitamin D are rainbow trout, sun-soaked crimini mushrooms, tuna, salmon, and egg yolk.

Anti-inflammatory and fermented foods: Stress is an inflammatory process, so the best thing you can do for yourself is incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods such as leafy greens, blueberries, cherries (think dark and tart), walnuts, turmeric, dark chocolate, and bell peppers. You’ve probably heard this a million times, and we agree, your brain health is your gut health. Our microbiota flourish with a variety and fermented foods. You don’t need to jump off the deep end and only eat kimchi and sauerkraut, instead, shoot for eating at least 30 different fruits and veggies a week. Fermented foods sprinkled in with meals are what will make your microflora sing. This can be yogurt, pickles, and the occasional kombucha.

As the last of the holiday decorations come down and the promise of a new year stands before us, it’s time to reflect on our health journey and set a sustainable path forward. With the right foods and the right fitness partner, you can make strides in enhancing your vitality and resilience. At Portland Integrative Fitness, we’re your partner in integrative wellness. Our personalized fitness programs and expert nutritional advice are designed to align with your unique physical condition and dietary needs. Ready to take the next step? Connect with us to see how our services can elevate your journey towards a healthier, more balanced you. Here’s to a thriving new year full of possibility and wellness.

A final reminder that, if you need help incorporating these foods into your daily meals, check out our blog on Meal Prep! Happy Healthy Holidays!

Ellionor Jabrink-Sehgal, Anna Andreasson, The Gut Microbiota and Mental Health in Adults, Current Opinion in Neurobiology, Volume 62, 2020, Pages 102-114, ISSN 0959-4388, https://foi.oth/10.1016/j.conb.2020.01.016.(

Noah, L., Dye, L., Bois De Fer, B., Mazur, A., Pickering, G., & Pouteau, E. (2021). Effect of Magnesium and Vitamin B6 Supplementation on Mental Health and Quality of Life in Stressed Healthy Adults: Post-hoc Analysis of a Randomised Controlled Trial. Stress and Health, 37(5), 1000-1009.

Paul Cherniack, E., Troen, B.R. Florez, H.J. et al. Some New Food for Though: The Role of Vitamin D in the Mental Health of Older Adults. Curr Psychiatry Rep 11, 12-19 (2009). Https://