Fire Up Digestion
to Burn the Winter Blues
At some point in time, we’ve all felt a little blah, or a lot blue, during the winter months. Whether it’s the colder temperatures, decrease in sunshine, or winter ailments that have you feeling less your normal self this winter, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help. TCM teaches us that our body’s organs and functions serve us best when they are in balance with each other. Easier said than done, right? And how exactly do bodily functions apply to you specifically? Let’s, for a moment, get personal here in the Pulse and Point Blog.
Have your bowel movements changed? Do you have more bodily discharge? Are you extra tired? Is your skin extra itchy? Or maybe you have a rash that won’t go away? All of these can be a sign of things being out of balance. Our poop is not just about what we eat; it’s also about how well or not so well our stomach, spleen, and intestines are working together. That extra discharge could mean our spleen is overworked and creating a domino effect that leads to poor digestion and our organs are not getting the nutrients they need for optimum function and balance. When your body’s organs don’t get the nutrients they need to function at optimum levels, it takes more Chi (energy) to get back to a state of balance. And that itchiness and rash could be an indication that your body isn’t breaking down food well enough for your organs to absorb nutrients.
Digestion isn’t a revolutionary health topic, but it is central to our health and too often taken for granted or overlooked when we start feeling less ourselves. If, when we feel blah or blue, we first look to what we’re ingesting and how we’re digesting, we will have made an important step forward in turning that frown upside down!
There are specific things that can help your body achieve balance. Get Needled—Acupuncture works great to balance the body! Additionally, by creating good cold-weather habits, you’re supporting your body’s changing needs this winter. Here’s how:
Live in sync with the changing seasons. That cooling garden salad is best during warm seasons like spring and summer. In winter, warm things up by eating roasted root vegetables.
Ingest and rest wisely. Be mindful of food and beverage choices, how your body reacts to what you eat, and practicing good sleep hygiene. Eat less damp-inducing foods in winter. Dairy is a food that should be eaten in moderation to prevent an overabundance of dampness that can weaken organ function. Good sleep hygiene is a way to train your body to fall asleep. Try to go to sleep around the same time every night and remove distractions in the bedroom. Acupuncture and essential oils that have sedative properties are options for those who need extra help falling and staying asleep.
Fire up the digestive process. The stomach likes to be warm when it starts to work. To help stimulate the digestive process, start your meals with something warm. Soups are a savory addition to meals in the winter months that can help fire up the digestive process. If you don’t have time for soup, then try starting your meal with a cup of warm water.
Eat something at every mealtime. Skipping meals means your body has less energy for your organs to do what they need to do. Make sure to eat something, even if it’s light, to ensure your body gets the energy it needs.
Add specific foods and spices to your meals to aid the digestive process in winter months. Consider adding anise seed, basil, cardamom seed, citrus peels, bell pepper, green beans, parsley, onion, scallions, and goji berries to your menus.
Drink a balanced amount of water. The kidneys and bladder are associated with winter, which means they need extra support this season.