Nutrition in Winter

By V. H. Mattram, M.A.
By optimal nutrition is meant the state of nutrition of any person whose body functions are not hampered in any way by the nature of his diet. Such nutrition is obtained by at least 50 per cent of the populace of Great Britain at the present day and probably even by more in the United States and the Dominions. Anglo-Saxons, in whichever part of the world they settle, tend to settle down to a nutrition which is approaching the minimum.
This is not to say that there is not much leeway to make up for the majority of us, and this becomes more obvious when we remember the grave incidence of minor and major illnesses in the late winter and early spring, some of which may be due to malnutrition.
Foods may be classified according to what they do in the body, as body-building, body-warming, or body-protecting. Let us take these three functions in turn and ask whether or not the foods fulfilling those functions needs to be increased or altered in any way in winter as compared with summer.
The body-warming foods which supply warmth and energy to the body are the foods by which you keep warm on a cold day and which enable you to play a hearty game of tennis or take a country walk. They are the fat foods (lard, dripping, suet, butter, margarine, cheese, bacon); the cereal foods (flour, oatmeal, rice, maize, and foods made with them); and the sugar-containing foods (cane sugar, glucose, dried fruits, jams, and marmalade). To these may be added the potato.
Do we need to increase the consumption of these foods in winter? The answer is : it depends entirely on how you live. If you clothe and house yourself so that you are comfortably warm, in winter as in summer, then there is no need to increase your consumption of body-warming foods, unless you take more exercise. Suppose that you play violent games of tennis in the summer or spend much time in the sea or bathing pool, but seek the seclusion of the fireside in winter, then you will actually need less body-warming food in winter than in summer.
In fact, for a reason which will be obvious later, it is an actual danger to eat more in winter than in summer. The protective foods may get crowded out.
If, on the other hand, you laze in the summer and take active open air exercise in the winter and are indifferent to fireside comfort you must eat more.
So long as you lead a healthy life, desire for food is the best guide to the amount of body-warming food necessary. Of course, the food must be plain and simple and not particularly tempting to the palate for this to be true. Doubtless appetite leads us to consume more of tasty and desirable food than our hunger demands; on the other hand people –particularly children –sometimes eat less than hunger demands in order to call attention to themselves.
Politicians are calling for increased physical training. They must be warned that increased physical training will entail increased need for body-warming food and that more money will have to be spent by those living on the margin of subsistence upon body-warming food. There will thus be less money for the other types of food, and the health of the people will suffer rather than improve.
There is no obvious need to increase the amount of body-building foods in the diet in winter, though there are many people who would benefit by an increase in summer and winter alike. Milk, eggs, meat, fish, and cheese are the chief body-building foods, and an examination of working-class budgets shows a marked deficiency in them.
There is often an outburst of growth in children in summer, and these therefore would then need more of the body-building foods.
Protective foods are foods which we eat predominantly for the vitamins and minerals they contain.
There is need for an increase of these in the diet in the winter months over and above the increase needed for at least half the people in the British Isles the whole year ‘round.
There are two reasons for this increased winter need: (i) winter food, at any rate such food as milk, better, and green vegetables, have not so much of the protecting materials as in summer; and green vegetables, have not so much of the protecting materials as in summer; and (ii) illness is more prevalent for some reason or other in the winter months, and the body is more subject to invasion by microbes. This invasion is checked by the robustines of our tissues, and this robustness is maintained and enhanced by protective foods.
Convenient sources of the body-protecting foods are here assembled with the substances for which they are valuable:

Dairy Foods.
Milk –(Protein) (Fat) (Carbohydrate), Vitamins A, B, C, D (summer only); Calcium; Phosphorus.
Eggs –(Protein) (Fat), Vitamins A, B, D; Calcium; Phosphorus; Iron.
Cheese –(Protein) (Fat), Vitamin A; Calcium; Phosphorus
Butter –(Fat), Vitamin A (winter and summer), Vitamin D (summer only). New Zealand and Australian butters have both A and D all the year ‘round.
Market Garden Foods.
Cabbages. –Vitamins A, B, C; Calcium; Iron.
Lettuce –Ditto.
Watercress –Ditto, and also Iodine.
Carrots. –Vitamins A, B, C.
Raspberries. –Vitamin C.
Strawberries. –Ditto.
Black currants. –Ditto.
Red Currants. –Ditto. (even canned summer fruits contain much Vitamin C.)
Tomatoes. –Vitamins A, B, C.
Celery. –Vitamin C.
All Lean Fish. –(Protein); Phosphorus; Calcium; Iron; Iodine.
All Fat Fish, Fish Roes, Liver. –The same as lean fish, but also Vitamins A, B, D.
Suggested Amount of Protecting Foods Essential
in Winter Diet.
Milk. -1 pint a day.
Cheese. -1 oz. a day.
Butter (Empire). -1 oz. a day.
A helping of Raw Salad or Canned Summer Fruit at least once a day.
Fat Fish of Fish Roes. -8 ozs. once or twice a week.
Eggs (if they be afforded). –Once a day.
-Medical World, London.