In Chinese Medicine, winter is associated with the Kidney organ system which has a lot to do with ancestral vitality, development, and aging. The parts of the body associated with the Kidney system (besides our actual kidneys) are brain, bones, knees, low back, hair, teeth and ears. Winter is said to be a good time to give extra attention, protection, and nourishment to our Kidney system.
There are some basic common sense things to do. These include wearing a hat and scarf outdoors, keeping your feet warm and dry, and staying hydrated. Another big one is getting enough rest. The short days and long nights at this time of the year are Nature’s message to us that it’s time to slow down!
Resting more does not mean we should not keep moving our body. Exercise is just as important to keep our energy moving and our mood and metabolism smooth and happy. However during the winter it is good idea to emphasize more gentle activity, such as Qi gong or restorative yoga.
The foods that are in season at this time of the year are also good for supporting our bodies nutritionally in the winter, so enjoy all the root veggies, winter squashes and dark leafy greens! From a Chinese Medicine and nutrition perspective cooked foods are more warming and easier to digest than raw foods, so warming soups and stews are perfect for this time of year.
Foods that can help further nourish our kidneys are: black beans, mushrooms, black sesame seeds, walnuts, buckwheat, eggs, various meat and fish (in moderation). Ginger, black pepper and garlic can also help warm us up and support healthy digestion.
Salt is the flavor of the kidney and you may find yourself craving it a little more in the winter. You may wish to add nori or other seaweed and a bit of miso to your soups.
And, of course, receiving regular acupuncture can be very supportive through the winter season. Acupuncture treatments can help you slow down and rest more deeply, so you can “recharge your batteries”, as well as keep your energy flow balanced and immune system functioning well. Taking an (acupuncture) nap in our cozy communal space may prove a good antidote to isolation during the more indoor-oriented winter season.
Stay warm and in good health, and see you soon!