As we officially merge into the winter months, it is time to internalise our energies or Qi, as winter is all about preserving one’s essences. But in our hectic lifestyles, we tend to continue on a destructive path of over stimulating, over indulge and overly stressed thereby compromising our precious immune system; hence poor health over the cooler months.
Let’s consider some factors to help us build our immune system. Winter is all about certain foods to help our body cope with the cold. Winter relates to the kidneys/adrenals, building this organ up with nourishing kidney foods. Kidneys work with our thyroid glands for our metabolism too. Our metabolism slows down a little over winter as we are not designed to be expanding our energies outwards as in the summer months. Winter is about internalising, going inwards as oppose to outwards in summer.
Kidneys belong to the water element in the 5-element of Chinese medicine theory. Its flavour is salty, colour is black and mineral related is calcium. So therefore all salty, black, calcium rich foods are nourishing for the kidneys.
Warm, slow cooked, salty foods are best for winter as it lessens the burden of digesting causing stomach upsets, bloating, reflux or cold feelings. That is why it is popular to cook stews, soups, casseroles during winter.
All sea vegetables are filled with sea salts, rich in iodine for the thyroid, therefore great to eat as soups. For example the popular miso soups or sushi roll are rich with minerals.
For those who feel the cold or “chilled to the bone” ginger or turmeric tea is very warming internally; especially fresh roots. Other foods that are nourishing for winter kidneys are millet, barley, tofu, string beans, black beans, mung beans, soya beans, kidney beans, blackberry, mulberry, blueberry, water chestnuts, potato, seaweeds, spirulina, chlorella, black sesame, sardine, eggs. Herbs include marshmallow root, rehmannia root, cloves, nettle tea, fenugreek, fennel, and others like walnuts, onion family and quinoa. For those who have poor constitution try royal jelly, nettle tea, almond milk, any micro-algae such as barleygrass, spirulina or chlorella.
For optimal winter health, use your inner guidance, eat appropriate seasonal foods rather than what is always on the shelves of supermarkets, lessen the hectic lifestyle and most of all to allow your body to build and preserve the Qi for the expansion of summer time!