By: Sarito Merlo

As the days get shorter, the nights get longer and a chilly winter sets in, we need to adjust our lifestyles to match the natural rhythm of a different season. Winter is the season for “storage” in Chinese Medicine.  It is the storage of winter that allows for the aliveness of Spring. It is the storage of Qi, Blood, Yin, and Yang that is important and this is done by using an appropriate diet for the cooler seasons, as well as modifying our lifestyle in other ways. 

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. What better way is there to do this than to have a warming cuppa! Herbal teas are support the kidneys by increasing urine flow.

My favourites for winter include Ginger Zing, Immunity and Chai. These teas contain herbs and spices that have obvious actions to help increase blood flow, keep you warm  and boost the immune system. Waking up to a pot of Chai with the healing benefits of black tea, along with warming spices is probably one of the best winter rituals. I trade my usual English Breakfast for Chai during the cooler months.

So it probably comes as no surprise to see “Drinking Herbal teas” as one of my top tips to stay healthy in winter. Check out my other tips below. 

1. DRINK HERBAL TEAS. Warm water and herbal teas are the best support for the kidneys (avoid cold water).
2. KEEP WARM. Wear scarves and extra layers or scarves around your mid-section to keep the abdomen and kidneys warm.

3. WARMING COOKING METHODS- Get the slow cooker out! Warming methods of cooking such as baking and stewing or anything that is cooked over a long period and at a low heat is a warming method of cooking from a TCM perspective and will help to nourish the kidneys.

4. SPICE IT UP! Use aromatic herbs and spices in cooking such as ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary to warm up foods and help assist with digestion. Or, start the day with BBTC’s chai tea!

5. ROOT VEGETABLES- Carrots, beetroots and parsnips are vegetables that grow in winter and help with the drawing down of energy to warm internally, to tonify and build kidney chi.

6. SALTY FOODS- miso, seaweed, sea salt, millet, barley plus any food made salty by the addition of salt- but don’t overdo it! These foods have a drawing down and centering action that heightens the capacity for storage and warmth.

7. BITTER FOODS- lettuce, watercress, endive, turnip, celery, asparagus, alfalfa, carrot, rye, oats, quinoa and amaranth. Like salty foods, these will have a drawing down and centering action that heightens the capacity for storage and warmth.

8. MISO SOUP is a kidney favourite: add sliced mushrooms, wakame (a sea vegetable), grated ginger and carrots and miso. Before adding the miso, make it into a paste with warm water and then add to the soup.

9. HERBS– Nettles (in BBTC’s Skin & Detox tea) and Dandelion root (in BBTC’s Detox & Dandylicious tea) are particularly great kidney tonic herbs.

10. MICRO-ALGAE- chlorella and spirulina have a wide cross section of nutrients to help build the blood and tonify the kidneys.

Stay Warm & Enjoy!