A warm bath, some extra-thick socks, or sitting by a crackling fire may be a few of the first things that come to mind when trying to beat winter's chill. But some of the things we put in our body can actually help keep us thermally-regulated as well … only here, it's from the inside-out. So, in addition to layering on the extra sweater or grabbing a bowl of your favorite soup, try putting more of these warming ingredients in your culinary rotation to support an inner sense of cozy.
Matcha – Green tea, along with its more antioxidant-rich strain, matcha, significantly promotes thermogenesis, a process in which cells convert energy into heat. (Even hibernating animals use thermogenesis as one of the ways they stay warm!) Almost like stoking an internal fire, drinking hot matcha is not only immediately soothing, it can also create long-term warmth as well.
Chili Peppers – That hot feeling your taste buds announce when exposed to a spicy pepper isn't just limited to your mouth. Peppers like cayenne, jalepeno, and chipotle raise body temperature slightly due to their concentration of capsaican, a phytochemical that creates a heated sensation – and if far too much is consumed, even swelling or a bit of redness can result. As a general rule, the hotter the pepper, the higher amount of capsaicin, and the more significant the augmentation of body temperature. If truly spicy foods aren't for you, try adding micro-doses of ground chilis in beverages or water throughout the day for a subtle effect.
Ginger – Like chili peppers, ginger's slightly spicy effect should be a good indicator of its thermogenic effects, which are found primarily in its active compound gingerol. Pungent, floral, and excellent for teas, consuming the root regularly has shown to help make those crisp days more manageable.
Cinnamon – Often referred to as a “warming spice,” cinnamon really does live up to its reputation. Cinnamaldehyde, the essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavor, induces fat cells to start burning energy. This not only helps to heat up the body – it can help protect against obesity, too!
Astralagus – Astralagus, also called “Huang Qi,” is a vital root used in Chinese Medicine as an energizing and warming herb. Astralagus is unique in that it helps clarify the circulation of blood just below the skin's surface, as well as in the muscles.
Turmeric - High in beneficial tannins, turmeric helps with circulation and blood flow throughout the body. A warming, drying spice, turmeric can be used as a raw root, or in dried and powdered form, and is excellent when added into hot soups.