Do you notice you get that strong urge “to go” and urinate more frequently in the cold weather? Kidney and bladder infections tend to spike in the winter months. There are simple habits, foods, treatments and techniques we can use to keep our kidneys and our whole system healthy and strong all winter long. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, when the seasons change different organs become vulnerable as our bodies shift to keep balanced. In winter, the water element predominates which corresponds to our kidneys and bladder.
To strengthen the “water” energy and keep the body in balance it’s important to keep warm. The Chinese believe a cold enters the body through the back of the neck. Wear scarves around your neck and extra layers around your mid-section. (I know, a thick middle is not really the look we’re all going for) but be sure to have your midriff covered or a belt around your coat to keep abdomen and kidneys warm. In Japan, a haramaki, or belly warmer is often worn. A haramaki is a tube of material which goes around your midsection which keeps that area warm. Get creative with your wardrobe and make your own version of a haramaki! It will keep you warm and also double as a reminder for you to keep your core muscles engaged 🙂
Add warming spices such as ginger and cinnamon to foods and juices. Gently warm soups and eat plenty of well blended food, as blended meals are easier to digest. Fresh cranberries make a nice addition to juices and purees this time of year while protecting the bladder and kidneys from infection. Isn’t it interesting how nature keeps us in sync and healthy if we eat what’s in season? Cranberries are in season now for a reason. Drink unsweetened cranberry juice and warm water with lemon. Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it. It will help destroy the germs in the bladder. It tastes good too!
Here’s a warming winter juice recipe. Juice the following:
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 inch knob fresh ginger
Warm miso soup makes a wonderful meal and is rich in minerals. Heat the water and add scallions, sliced shitake mushrooms (also very good for kidneys), wakame (sea vegetable), grated ginger, and carrots. Before adding miso, make it into a paste with warm water (but not boiling water) and then add it to soup. Do not let miso boil or it will lose it’s beneficial properties.
Aduki beans, black beans, and kidney beans are also beneficial for the kidneys. Millet and winter squash are good choices for balancing water energy this time of year.
Winter is a wonderful time of year to get acupuncture, paying particular attention to the kidney meridian points on the ankle which will boost kidney energy as well as the bladder points along the spine on the back. Take warm baths with sea salts and aromatherapy oils, such as lavender and eucalyptus, will soothe and keep sinuses open.
I like to start off the first of the year with a January detox/cleanse. After the holiday bingeing it’s a great way to reset the body’s metabolism, get rid of toxins and give our bodies a chance to heal, paying particular attention to strengthening the bladder and kidneys and boosting the immune system to prevent winter colds and flu. Don’t know how to get started? For my easy to follow post holiday detox, click onto my shop where you can download my winter cleanse package. Winter Detox Cleanse I will give you all the info you need and guide you thru a whole foods 5-7 day detox cleanse.
And for more info on how to stay healthy naturally all winter long check out my “Winterize Your Body” package which is in my shop as well. Get right for the new year! Winterize Your Body
Balch, Phyllis, A. Prescription for Nutritional healing. Avery Trade 2006
Maciocia, Giovanni. The foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and herbalists. Second Edition. Churchill Livingstone. 2005.
Pitchford, Paul. Healing With Whole foods. North Atlantic Books. 2002.