Staying Healthy This Winter

Staying Healthy This Winter

Well winter is finally here. As we know this is the peak season for colds and flu so I thought it very timely to share with you some of my top tips to keep you and your family healthy this winter.

The ancient Chinese believed that human beings should live in harmony with the natural cycles of their environment. The cold and darkness of winter urges us to slow down. This is the time of year to reflect on our health, replenish our energy, and conserve our strength.

Unfortunately, with our temperate climate in Sydney most of us carry on with our busy schedules. However, for the sake of your health, I encourage you to take on some of the Ancient Chinese wisdom.

According to the Chinese winter is Yin in nature; it is inactive, cold, and damp. As a result we see lots of lung and upper respiratory complaints during this season. The dominant emotions of winter are fear and depression or melancholy. Hence it is time for self-reflection and introspection, for adequate time to rest, recuperate and consolidate your chi or energy and prepare for the outburst of new life and energy in the spring.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) winter is ruled by the water element, which is associated with the kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands. According to the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are considered the source of all energy (chi) within the body. They store all of the reserve chi in the body so that it can be used in times of stress and change, or to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully. Unfortunately, in our modern societies with our high pressure and busy schedules our kidney and adrenal glands are constantly under enormous stress.

During the winter months it is important to nurture and nourish our kidney chi. It is the time where this energy can be most easily depleted. Our bodies are instinctively expressing the fundamental principles of winter – rest, reflection, conservation, and storage.


Foods for Winter

In TCM the predominant taste for winter is salty. This does not mean add or consume lots of salt laden processed foods, nuts, potato chips or added iodised salt, but rather include salty foods like miso, tamari and seaweed and use good quality Celtic or Himalayan salt in cooking to draw out flavours.

Avoid raw foods during the winter as much as possible, as these tend to cool the body. Also avoid foods which create damp and mucous in the body such as dairy products, wheat and especially sugar which also reduces the activity of your white blood cells.

During winter you should emphasize warming foods such as:

  • Slow cooked Soups and stews, especially bone broths;

  • Root vegetables;

  • Legumes and pulses;

  • Miso and seaweed;

  • Onions, garlic and ginger

Eating warm hearty soups, root vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin, parsnip, and activated or roasted nuts help to warm the body's core and to keep us nourished.

For some inspiring recipes check out our Recipes and remember take the time to stay well this winter!