The kidneys need lots of support during this time as they work hard to maintain proper nutrient balances and keep the body hydrated, both important for preventing diseases. The liver is also extra active during the winter to detoxify and break down the high amounts of fat found in many holiday foods. Nourish your body with warming foods like squash, broths, beans, root vegetables, and spices like cinnamon and clove. Hearty winter soups with bone broth, potatoes, leeks, kale, and beans are easy to make, keep well in the refrigerator or freezer, and have amazing nutritional value. These foods also help support your kidneys and liver so they can do their job of cleansing our blood better.
Drink herbal tea. Herbs have been used for centuries to support the immune system. Echinacea, elderberry, rosehips, cinnamon, and chamomile contain anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial compounds that can help prevent respiratory infections. Teas with antioxidant ingredients are also very beneficial in protecting the immune system from illness. Blueberry, green tea, grapeseed, and rosehips all have a large amount of antioxidants, which protect immune cells and blood cells from damage.
Eat and drink warming foods. Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic traditions both recognize the value of warming foods. “Warming” means both temperature AND spice! Soup/broth, tea, and foods like squash and peppers are your friends here. Spices like cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, ginger, and pepper can all increase the heat of your dishes. These foods increase your body temperature and facilitate blood flow and elimination of toxins.
Sweat it out! Sweat is one of the ways your body gets rid of metabolic waste and infectious microorganisms. Exercise, a sauna, a hot bath, and eating warming foods are all ways to get your sweat on- just make sure you replenish the water you lose by drinking plenty of fluids. Electrolytes are also lost in your sweat, so in additional to rehydrating with water, eat or drink something with calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Coconut water is a good natural source of electrolytes. Fruit such as pomegranates, oranges, strawberries, and mangoes are all great for replenishing your electrolyte balance.
Rest, rest, rest. Winter is a time for drawing inward, slowing the pace of life, and gathering and storing energy to make it through the dark and cold days. Your body needs a lots of rest during this time, especially as the energy needs of your body increase when fighting off infections. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hibernate or sleep through most of your day, but it does mean that you should set aside time to allow your body to process and focus on repairing and restoring functions.
You also need quality sleep at night. One of the stages of sleep is Stage 3 Deep Sleep. This is when the body takes care of all its maintenance, repair, and growth needs. Immune function is boosted during this stage, so it is vital to experience deep sleep when your body is defending itself against bacteria and viruses. Stage 3 Sleep usually occurs 30-45 minutes after falling asleep. A dark, cool room, supportive bed and pillows, and reducing screen time before bed can help you achieve quality sleep that restores your health every night.