“When we adjust our diet and lifestyle to match the season, health-promoting digestive microbes dramatically change. Winter microbes support balanced immunity, digestion, mood, energy, blood sugar, weight, sleep – and much more. Winter is also associated with the qualities of ‘Vata,’ which are cold, air, dry and light. To stay balanced, focus on food and activities that are warm, moist, heavy, and oily.”
– John Douillard
The body needs special nourishment and care during the winter.
Winter is the dark and cold season of the year. It is a time to go inward, a time of reflection, slowing down, nourishing the soul, and supporting immunity. According to Ayurveda, winter is associated with the flow, water, tranquility, restoration, and rest. Water in the body is associated with tears, blood circulation, bladder, and kidney. In winter, everything slows down and saves energy while some animals hibernate. Humans conserve energy and build strength as a prelude to spring.
According to Chinese Medicine, winter is associated with the most Yin aspect (slow, dark, inward energy) kidney, which holds our most fundamental energy.
“The kidneys contain the root energy of all your organs and spark the energy of the whole body.”
Harmonizing ourselves with the season helps you be healthier and prevent diseases, so nourishing the kidneys is one of the most important things you can do during winter. Hyperactive kidneys inhibit the heart, which leads to palpitations, cardiac pain, limb coldness, and fatigue.
To keep the kidneys healthy, you should keep them warm and well hydrated. I remember my grandma used to say, “ Wear your jacket and cover your kidneys when you go outside so, so the wind and cold are not going to hit your kidneys,” – that is one of the worst things you can do during the winter. During winter activities, make sure to keep your lower back warm.
Simultaneously, it would be best to drink plenty of liquids to cleanse the bladder and kidney and avoid ice water, which can be too cooling.
During the winter in Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and in my country Poland, seasonal eating is essential.
Eating according to the seasons helps us be in harmony with nature and the environment, and it helps us adapt to changes in season and stay healthy. The fundamental principle is “nourishing yang in spring and summertime and nourishing yin in autumn and winter time.”
We want to focus on cooked foods for their warming effects during the winter season and eat fewer raw salads, smoothies, and other uncooked dishes.
We want to favor root vegetables, winter fruits, cooked whole grains, and warming spices for their balancing and grounding effects during the colder months.
During the winter, our body will appreciate warming foods like hearty stews and soups, whole grains and roasted nuts, roasted vegetables, or steaming cups of ginger or cinnamon tea. To further support the kidney, eat red adzuki beans, black beans, kidney beans along with lots of seaweed (nori, dulse, arame, etc.) and steamed or wilted dark leafy greens.
Eating more food with bitter flavors is preferable and going easy on the salt(unless it is a Celtic or Himalayan salt) to promote a healthy heart and reduce the kidney’s workload. A moderate amount of salty food can help nourish the kidneys, but remember that excessive salt damages them.
Foods with bitter flavors include apricot, asparagus, celery, cacao, tea, grapefruit, hops, kohlrabi, lettuce, radish leaves, kale, vinegar, and wine.
Seafood is an excellent source of protein at this time of the year. We should consume an appropriate amount of high protein food and fats. Grass-feed beef, Bison, goose, mutton, eggs, duck, rabbit meat, wild game, yam, winter squashes, sesame, glutinous rice, dates, longan, mushrooms, leek, and nuts are great for a wintertime menu.
Remember everything has to be in balance – when people eat too many high-calorie foods during the winter, it can cause excessive heat to accumulate in the stomach and lungs. Because of that, they may experience bronchitis, skin problems, peptic ulcers, sore throats. That is why you need to balance high-calorie food with a certain amount of cold, fresh dishes and water in winter.
During the wintertime, our appetite increases, our metabolism slows down, and for this reason, our bodies can absorb more nutrients. We can use herbs to energize our body, such as wolfberry, ginseng, medicinal mushrooms, angelica, astralagus, and Rehmannia.
We conserve energy during winter, but that doesn’t mean you should not do anything and exercise. When you observe the water that moves downhill, we should choose the least resistance path and practice fluid movement. Yoga, qigong, Tai chi, dance are lovely practices for the winter months.
Winter is a fantastic time to pay attention to your dreams because of associated introspection and receptivity. Write your goals in your dream journal and try to process them.
As I mentioned, paying attention to one element at a time is an excellent way to begin noticing their effects. Ultimately though, it is advised to balance all five elements within the body because they work together in a dynamic, rich, and complex system.
Finding more balance will help you to feel better and be more vibrant.
TOP SEASONAL VEGETABLES FOR WINTER:
Enjoy these veggies cooked, preferably in a healthy fat like coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee:
TOP SEASONAL FRUITS FOR WINTER:
Enjoy these fruits, preferably warmed or cooked.
Try incorporating more of these foods into your regular eating routine. Look for recipes that feature these ingredients, or swap them out for some of the non-seasonal foods that you might be currently consuming in your favorite meals.