Nourishing Your Body During Winter from TCM perspective

Winter time is traditionally known as a time for rest and storing which is how hibernation originated. However, winter is the perfect time to feed our bodies with wholesome, healthy foods that build up our nutrient reserves, boost our immunity and fight inflammation. This a great time to restore and repair our body. If we take the time to rest and restore our body during the winter, when spring rolls around we’ll be ready for the longer days with more energy requirement. Our body will be well nourished and have the energy it needs to be more active.

In Chinese Medicine, Winter is considered a Yin aspect. Yin is seen as the dark, slow, cold energy. So it’s believed that the diet and routine during the winter should be adapted to enrich yin and ultimately support yang. Winter is associated with the kidneys which is the key to our body’s most basic and fundamental energy so winter is a great time to focus on strengthening our kidneys. Resting, as previously mentioned, is incredibly important to revitalize our kidneys which is why most animals hibernate during the winter time.

As the temperature drops, we are less likely to maintain a healthy diet. This is because it’s tempting to curl up on the couch with warming food or a cup of hot chocolate. Furthermore, it’s too cold for people to walk to work or school and most people resort to public transportation rather than walking which takes away from their usual exercise level. Also, since it gets too cold to perform physical activities outside, many of us tend to stay in and watch TV rather than go for a jog outside or play ball. Another reason that makes healthy eating difficult is the lack of sunlight. Since it gets darker much earlier, we get less exposure to the sun which can cause a drop in serotonin. A lack in serotonin can cause food cravings and even depression.

Another important reason to make sure we properly feed our body is to make sure we give our immune system everything it needs to be healthy. A healthy immune system can help our body fight against the germs that cause colds and flu. People with a healthy immune system are less prone to getting colds and if they do, their cold’s duration is minimal. In order to make sure we have all the nutrients we need to be healthy and well, we should eat more Yin nourishing food in the winter time such as black rice, Asian black beans (different from Mexican black beans, Asian black beans have green flesh), black sesame, goji berries, root vegetables, chestnuts, walnuts and stock up on vitamin C. It’s best to eat food that warm our bodies such as soup with hearty vegetables and rich stocks. Stocks cooked with animal bones are most beneficial. Cooking should also be done for longer periods with low heat and little water, this infuses the food with heat which then heats up our bodies. Hearty soups, whole grains and roasted nuts are most beneficial to our health as they offer nourishment but also tonify our kidneys.

The body part associated with the kidney are our bones so it’s crucial to pay extra attention to our bones during the winter months. This allows us to heal any problems we may have in the area. The sense organ associated with our kidneys is our ears. Because of that our ability to hear clearly is directly tied with the state of our kidneys. Things tend to be more quiet and still during the winter which allows us to rest and relax.


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