Gaborone — The Department of Meteorological Services predicted frequent cold spells ensuing normal and below normal temperatures between the months of May-July, this winter season.
Consequently, the populace is to experience chilly weather reactions associated with colds and flu.
On the backdrop of that, Dietician Ms Keitumetse Makuku has advised that since during this time, human metabolism undergoes changes to adapt to the environment, proper and healthy diet is critical.
Speaking in an interview with BOPA, Ms Makuku said in winter, naturally humankind experienced a decline of a hormone called serotonin, the chemical that helped with sleeping, eating, and digestion.
This decline she said, impacts every part of the body, from emotions to motor skills, and it is also considered a natural mood stabiliser.
She said as a result of reduction of serotonin, people tended to eat frequently and craved fatty food to boost their mood and make themselves feel comfortable.
"This explains why people eat a lot and gain more weight in winter than other seasons. It's important to know what to include in your diet at this time of the year to keep warm and healthy; free from colds and flu. The secret lies in the knowledge about the food we eat," Ms Makuku explained.
In order to enhance production of serotonin, she recommended whole wheat diet consisting of Vitamin D and some quality starch such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and butternuts.
She said when serotonin levels increase, the body will be able to warm itself and frequent eating will also be reduced.
"The sun is another source of Vitamin D that our body needs but in winter there isn't too much sun, so just take some few minutes exposed to the sun to get this important vitamin. Another vital thing is Vitamin C that we can get from citrus fruits. Vitamin C helps our immune system to prevent and fight colds and flu," Ms Makuku divulged.
She also underscored the importance of eating a balanced diet, taking various types of food in moderation.
She said a healthy diet is not supposed to be boring, suggesting that a person may choose to boil, stir fry, bake or deep fry food with low fat oil.
Furthermore, Ms Makuku explained that healthy eating does not have to be expensive as commonly perceived, adding that it should be aligned to the person's preference and budget, also for consistency to prevail.
"There is no food that is unhealthy, only people's habits result in problems. Eating a fat cake once or twice in a week is not a problem, but eating them every day presents health risks. Similarly, if you eat refined food most of the time, we encourage you to include whole wheat meals in your diet," she noted.
She said a crucial supplement to a healthy diet is exercise and in winter, she suggested indoor exercises of one's preference to ensure consistency.
Ms Makuku urged the public to desist from taking supplements without the doctor's prescription, but to rather resort to obtaining vitamins and minerals from natural food.
She encouraged people to utilise the services of dieticians to acquire knowledge and advice on healthy eating.
She maintained that eating healthy can help reduce risks, prevent and control non communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, hypertension and diabetes, which are sometimes genetic.
"In this regard, self-introspection is very crucial for an individual to calculate risks and take decisions on their health. You don't have to wait until you fall sick to take proper decisions about your diet, better start now and minimise the risks," Ms Makuku reiterated.
Source : BOPA