When winter is coming, and temperatures are starting to drop you suddenly start to feel colder. Only briefly to start. But then it seems that you can’t remember the last time that you were actually warm. You long for the beautiful hazy days of summer where you can stay outside for hours and never think about putting your heating on.
But when it starts to get colder, putting the heating on might just cross your mind. You don’t really want to, but you feel so cold. Then you worry about the cost of putting your heating on and so you just decide to stay cold.
Not nice is it? But thankfully there is another way of getting warm. You don’t always need to add more layers of clothing or put your heating on to get warmer. Because the answer could actually be in what you eat.
The TEF (Thermic effect of food) is also known as SDA (Specific Dynamic Action) or DIT (Dietary Induced Thermogenesis). All of these are basically the same.
They are the terms used for the amount of energy expenditure above the resting metabolic rate because of the cost of eating and processing food (1)
Heat production by brown adipose tissue is activated after consumption of a meal (2)
So basically your body produces heat from some of your food. So when you eat you can get warmer. The amount of heat that you generate depends on things like your age and weight. But there are also foods which you can eat that will help you to get warmer.
So let’s check them out:
Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is a flowering plant. The Ginger or Root Ginger is often used by many cultures in both medicines and tasty recipes. The taste of Ginger can be quite strong depending on how much of it is used. It is usually dried or ground and can be used to make cakes, biscuits, sweets or wine. It can also be pickled.
There are two compounds in Ginger called Gingerol and Shogaol that give it its spicy flavour. They also give it its thermogenic quality.
So where does Ginger come from? It is believed that it originated from South-east Asia, and was exported via India to Europe. It was used over 5,00 years ago by the Chinese, and still features in many of their recipes today. The Romans liked Ginger and they used it extensively. However when the Roman Empire finally fell the Arabs then decided to take control of the spice trade. It became quite costly at that time.
In the 15th Century Ginger became popular in the Caribbean. But the invention of the Gingerbread Man in England by Queen Elizabeth l was when it became more popular. Gingerbread is still popular in England today.
Many years ago you were thought wealthy if you could trade in Ginger. It was also related to power.
Ginger has often been thought of having aphrodisiac qualities
It is a key ingredient in both Indian and Asian cooking as it is so tasty and works well with other ingredients. In India it is used in Sambharam which is a thick curd or yoghurt drink and also in Masala Chai (a tea with spices). It is also used to add a kick and flavour to spiced tea. So it has a variety of uses.
It has often been used in Ayurdevic medicine – This is a holistic approach looking at all areas of the mind and body. The Japanese have used Ginger for joint or spinal pain, and the Chinese for flu, hangover and toothache. It is also used for headaches and by those with digestive problems or menstrual cramps.
A.D. Dioscorides, a travelling Greek physician and botanist noted that ginger ‘warms and softens the stomach’ (1)
Ginger has been studied for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. Also its properties in relation to muscle spasms, rheumatism, blood circulation, and nourishing the skin. Ginger root also for treating respiratory problems and fever.
So Ginger is a great staple to keep in your cupboard.
Whilst having large doses of ginger are thought to increase the possibility of adverse reactions like diarrhoea and irritation of the mouth, the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) consider it to be safe. There have been some reported cases of both immunoglobulin and arrhythmia (2). But generally Ginger seems to help, although it can cause heartburn and gastric irritation.
Coconut oil has great thermogenic properties. So if you are feeling cold it could be just the thing to use.
Coconut Oil has been used for many thousands of years. It is during this time that people from Asian countries and the Pacific Rim knew about its properties and so used it often. They used all parts of both the coconut and the tree. Both for consumption and weaving.
The meat of the coconut is pressed and this is where the oil comes from.
Because it is can be poured Coconut Oil is great on salad.
It contains fatty acids which have great health benefits.
Coconut Oil can actually help you to burn more fat. It contains MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides). Compared to other fats these can help you to burn more calories.
It was found that 15-30 grams of MCTs a day could increase your energy expenditure by as much as 5%. This amounted to approximately 120 calories a day. If you add those up over the year then that could be a great number of calories saved.
A great feature of Coconut Oil is that it can help to reduce your hunger.
A positive outcome of a study which was conducted with healthy men being fed various amounts of MCTs was that those who ate the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories each on an average day.
Harmful Micro-organisms can be killed by Coconut Oil.
Lauric Acid can fight infections and Acne. Lauric Acid is a fatty acid. It is almost 50% of the fatty acids which are present in Coconut Oil. Lauric Acid can kill harmful pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Even the dangerous pathogen Staphylococcus Aureus. It is also useful for eradicating yeast infections.
A rat study (4) showed that coconut oil can reduce LDL cholesterol, and improve blood coagulation.
The most common type of Dementia is Alzheiner’s disease. It affects millions of people all over the world. In certain areas of the brain there appears to be a reduced ability for those with Alzheimer’s to be able to use carbohydrates for energy. It is possible that ketones can help the malfunctioning brain cells by providing an alternative source of energy, thus reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The levels of ketones in the blood can be increased by the fatty acids in Coconut Oil. These help to relieve the symptoms in those suffering from Alzheimer’s by supplying more energy for their brain cells.
Coconut Oil is a great moisturizer. It can also improve the fat content of the skin.
There is a process in which Coconut Oil is used which can kill some of the harmful bacteria that we have in our mouths. This is called Oil Pulling. It a bit like using mouthwash so great for eradicating bad breath.
Coconut oil appears to be quite effective in the reduction of belly fat. Belly fat is quite dangerous so anything which helps to reduce it can only be welcomed.
If it is ingested Coconut Oil can cause diarrhea.
Some can have an allergic reaction to Coconut Oils. It is quite rare though.
Green Tea contains Flavonoids. These have anti-oxidant properties. Green tea also contains Catechins. These, along with the caffeine which green tea contains. Give it its thermogenic properties.
Green tea has long been the most common tea in China for many years. During the time of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 – 907) tea drinking became more fundamental to Chinese society. There were tea ceremonies
It started to become more widely tasted in other countries in the 1900’s.
It was firstly chewed and used for cooking. But in later in the 12th century was steamed and used as a drink. It is now a very popular choice because of its health benefits as it is full of nutrients and anti-oxidants.
Green tea contains L-theanine which is known to help you relax. When with caffeine it is thought to improve brain function.
The bioactive compounds in green tea help to protect your cells from injury and improve recovery.
It improves the chance of losing weight as it can boost your metabolic rate.
The anti-oxidants in green tea can have an effect on lowering the rate of cancer which is great news for everyone. One study found that there was 48% lower risk for men over developing prostate cancer if they drank green tea.
Green tea can help your dental health and it can help to reduce the growth of streptococcus mutans which can be harmful to all areas of your mouth.
Studies show that green tea can reduce blood sugar levels which is great news for anyone with diabetes. It can also help to protect against heart disease.
Although green tea is considered safe for most of the population it may need to be avoided by
those with a low tolerance to caffeine, bleeding disorders, or liver disease. Always check with your doctor if in doubt.
It can also sometimes affect those who find it difficult to sleep because of the caffeine that it contains.
Brown rice is a staple part of the diet in many countries. It feeds many of the population in areas where there is not a lot of choice of food. So it is important to many people.
Rice has been known for several thousand years. Archaeologists have found rice seeds from approximately 15,000 years ago in Korea. This is much earlier than previously thought.
Although most of rice is used in Asia it is eaten in many countries all over the world. It was introduced to Spain in the 8th century. Travelers also took it to Greece and India. It was eventually taken to most countries around the world.
It is believed that rice supplies half of the world with half of its daily calorie needs. That is a lot of rice being eaten every day!
Brown rice can warm you up more quickly than white rice as it is metabolized more quickly. This is because it is a more complex carbohydrate. So good news if you need to get warm.
Because white rice is more processed than brown it has less nutrients. In brown rice only the outside layer is removed and so more nutrients remain. Brown rice is really a great source of nutrients and is rich in fiber.
Brown rice is thought to help with better brain functioning and improve how the nervous system functions. So is great for those of you who need to study.
Brown rice is a good source of Magnesium. This is good for reducing high blood pressure and the risk of stroke. This also helps with bone condition so is good for those who have, or are at risk of Osteoporosis.
It also contains plant lignans which are thought to help balance hormones.
Brown rice keeps your digestive system healthy because of the fibre it contains, reducing the problems associated with, and likelihood of constipation.
It is also good for your heart because of the Selenium in contains. Also because of the healthy type of oils which it contains it can help to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol.
Brown rice contains Manganese. This seems to help synthesize body fats so aid with weight loss.
It can also help with brain disorders such as Dementia as it inhibits Protylendopetidase which is a harmful enzyme. It is one that is related to Alzheimer’s. It can also help with insomnia.
Because of the anti-oxidants in brown rice it can help in the prevention of different types of cancer.
Rice contains Arsenic. So if eaten in large quantities, over quite a long period of time, it could have a potential risk.
Some people have rice allergies so if in doubt do please seek medical advice or attention.
Always store and cook rice properly.
Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum)
If you want to get warm then Cayenne pepper could definitely help. Not only is it the most amazing hot colour, it packs a punch in the heat department too.
It is believed that Cayenne pepper was first used by Native Americans in 700 B.C, and was introduced to Europe by the explorer Christopher Columbus. He was actually looking for peppercorns on the Indian coast. But he actually ended up in the Caribbean. This is where he found Capsicum. As it was red and fiery pepper he referred to it as Pepper. Cayenne pepper is now its well known name. In those days any additional flavour for food was very much welcomed.
In the 1500’s it was used to help those suffering from throat infections and has also been found to be good for vascular disorders, indigestion and sore throats.
Cayenne Pepper is also good for skin complaints, tremors, fever, tonsilitis and nausea. –
It has anti-allergen and anti-irritant properties. So could help with allergies and diarrhea.
It also stimulates the production of saliva thus helping with food digestion.
If you ever suffer from migraines or toothache then Cayenne Pepper could be just the thing to use. Great to be able to use something more natural than drugs to help with the pain!
It also helps to alleviate symptoms of severe cold or flu so good when you feel lousy because of them. As a detoxifying aid it is also good.
If you suffer from joint pain Cayenne Pepper can really be a tonic as it can really bring you down sometimes.
Cayenne has been used in cooking for many years because of its anti-bacterial properties. It is ideal to disguise the smell and taste of rotting meat or food generally. Most of us wouldn’t want to eat rotting meat but in times gone by it was either that or not have anything to eat sometimes.
Also as a topical remedy like in herbal compresses to treat many different ailments such as score skin.
You may have a negative reaction to Cayenne Pepper if you suffer from allergies to some fruits such as Avocado. Also if you eat too much of it over a prolonged period of time there could be a risk of stomach problems.
It is advised that should also not eat it 2 weeks prior or after surgery.
Garlic – Allium Sativum
Garlic is often thought of as a ‘super food’. Tasty and good for you all rolled into one.
So let’s get to know more about it.
Garlic cloves were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen. So it has been known about for many years.
The athletes were given it during the first olympic games.
It has also been used in Asia, Europe (especially the Mediterranean area), China and Africa for many years too. Native Americans also used it to treat flu.
Apart from helping you to get warmer and its culinary benefits, what other benefits does it have?
Garlic can be great for your skin. It can aid treatment for skin complaints and blemishes.
It can help your circulation and prevent blood clotting too.
Garlic seems to help occasionally as an aid in fighting the common cold.
It is high in enzymes and anti-oxidants as well so great for your whole system, including helping to lower blood pressure, and increase your bone density, and is also good for heart disease.
Garlic is known to cause bad breath. (although mouthwash may help a little with this).
Its pungent smell is also able to come through your skin.
A higher risk of bleeding can sometimes be seen if patients are taking anti-coagulant medication and eating garlic. It may also interact with other medications such as Warfarin.
It can cause nausea and diarrhea too.
Oatmeal is one of those dishes that you don’t always eat until you have nothing else in the cupboard for breakfast and so you decide to give it a go. But if you don’t try it you are truly missing out.
Oatmeal is made from oats which have been rolled, crushed, and ground.
It can be quite fine or come a little less crushed and is formed into a type of paste to eat.
Oats have been eaten in England and Scotland for centuries. There it is often either soaked in milk or water overnight with salt or or sugar added. Of course now there are numerous products such as honey or golden syrup which can be added to oats or oatmeal. It is also popular eaten with fruit.
It is also now eaten in many countries over the world.
The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) ruled that food which contains a lot of bran or rolled oats in it can have a label saying that it may reduce the risk of heart disease if it is combined with a low fat diet.
Oatmeal contains B Vitamins.
It also contains a lot of fibre so aids digestion.
It is great if you want a really filling snack or meal, and can be added to other dishes. Plus it helpt to stabalise sugar levels as oats are a slow release food.
You need to be careful about what you add to oatmeal because of the sugar, calorie or salt content.
It can make you constipated if eaten too often
It it is also not suitable for anyone with a gluten intolerance.
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)
Turmeric is a lovely warm spice that is really colourful. It has been used in recipes for many years.
Turmeric comes from India and Asia. It has more recently been grown in Africa, Australia and the West Indies.
It is part of the Ginger family which is another food on this list.
It has also been used for years to dye the robes of Buddhist monks.
It has been used as a form of medicine since ancient times and contains anti-oxidants.
Turmeric can improve liver health and help with menstrual problems
It also contains Vitamin C, Zinc, and Manganese, and helps with gall bladder and respiratory health.
And help detoxification and is anti-bacterial so helps to kill parasites.
Turmeric should not be used in large doses.
Should not be taken by those with severe liver disease or severe gallstones.
So now that we know all about them, and that they can make us warmer, I think we should go and make a nice meal with some of these wonderful ingredients!
- Denzer, CM; JC Young (September 2003).“The effect of resistance exercise on the thermic effect of food.”.nternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.1 396–402.PMID 14669938
- Cannon, B.; Nedergaard, J. (2004). “Brown Adipose Tissue: Function and Physiological Significance”.Physiological Reviews.84 277–359.doi:10.1152/physrev.00015.2003.
- Ginger. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. April 2008.
- Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid parameters and in vitro LDL oxidation.
Nevin KG and Rajamohan T