Autumn Into Winter: Nourishing Yourself in the Cold

27 November 2009 1 comments

...And the first of the holidays has passed.  

Some of us have already had snow, most of us have had the cold descend.   The way we care for ourselves as the seasons change from Autumn to Winter...well, that determines how well we will fare in well as in Spring.

In the Chinese classic texts my predecessors wrote that if you did not care for yourself properly in one season, then that would result in illness in the next.  For example, too much icy food in Summer can result in Autumn cold; too much raw food in Autumn can result in Winter fever, etc.

Seasonal health, adjusting our lifestyle with the change in our environment is essential to our daily health as well as our longevity.

In the Autumn, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is the Lungs and Large Intestine which are the most stressed; in Winter we must focus on strengthening the Kidneys and Urinary Bladder.

Kidneys strongly dislike cold.  You might notice that when you are cold or have been outside in the cold, your body needs to urinate more to because of the cold's effect on the Kidneys.  You also may notice that you really do feel like resting a bit more, slowing down and conserving your energy.   That is what you are supposed to do...which nature needs us to do in the same way that a tree's sap moves into the center of the tree -- and as bees stay in their hives, nourishing themselves on the honey which they have collected since last Spring's nectar flow.

In Japan, people wear an extra garment around their torsos to keep their Kidneys warm.  It is similar to a "cami" or a "tube top".   When you protect your Kidneys you protect your Longevity.    Wearing socks -- that helps as well.

In terms of food, when the weather turns you need more deep and nourishing, longer-cooked stews, less raw food, no icy food, less liquid in fact.  

More spices such a cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger should be used more generously.
These have the medicinal qualities of warming the body and increasing the circulation -- especially during cold weather.

Do go outside, but cover your neck from the cold to prevent what we refer to as "wind cold attack".   Enjoy the beauty of the season's change.

The truth is that our lifestyle plays more into our longevity than we realize. 

Health is not just a given. It is something that we earn every single day: every single meal, every single night that we sleep...or not sleep. Each choice that we make is a forward or backward step in longevity.

Health is the earned result of small, consistent behaviors which add up to years of vibrance.

Specifically, for Kidney strength, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, these things count:

- Get enough rest at night. To bed before midnight, consistently.

- Avoid cold and icy foods. They deplete Kidney energy.

- Avoid dairy.  Milk products impede Kidney function over time.

- Eat fish and fish soups. They strengthen the Kidneys.

- Eat beans: kidney beans, azuki beans, pinto beans, lentils, great northern, navy beans,
cannelini beans, garbanzos/chickpeas, black turtle beans, black soybeans.
(black soybeans are especially valued for reproduction, azukis and kidney beans for
stamina and Kidney function)

- Include sea vegetables, such as nori, kombu, arame, hijiki and dulse.
(Use according to your condition. They are a well-kept secret which I am now sharing!)

- Do not avoid salt altogether, but use with care, according to your condition.  Sea salt is

Keep feet and Kidneys warm. Wear extra undershirts,  camisoles over the Kidney areas. 
     Wear socks.
- When under pressure & stress, have hot showers or baths before bed to relax.
- Too much coffee will drain the Kidney energy over time.

The best way to spend this transition from Autumn to Winter is to gaze out the window and to dream.   Put down the newspaper ads and let someone else support our economy.  

You are too busy nourishing your body and your soul, preparing for Winter...

...and a long and healthy life.


  • Leeds Acupuncture said...

    Lovely article Leslie. Like yourselves Britain is receiving its' fair share of snow and ice at the moment, and your advice is true here as it is there - warm nourishing food and keep the chills off! And this is good advice.

    Winter (associated with Water in the Chinese Medical Paradigm), is a time of stillness as well. Everything slows down - the trees take nourishment to the roots and animals slow - they stay in and keep warm. And we are no different - so maybe we could slow down - not do as much, hold up for the winter . . . after all we are not separate from nature are we?
    Keep warm


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