As the days become shorter, winter is the time for slowing down and focusing inward. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this means focusing on preserving energy and seeking warmth. Winter is associated with the element of water, relating to the kidney and bladder. The kidneys are known to be storing energy and vitality of the body, so the foods we eat during the winter should focus on driving the body’s warmth in order to dispel cold. By investing in rest and integrating the following five ingredients in your diet, winter can be a time of restorative immunity for the coming spring.
Young Barley Grass
Young barley grass has a 800 year history of being an ingredient that aids successful and safe treatment of chronic disease conditions as well as a functional food for humans. Barley is a prebiotic which means that it helps to nourish good bacteria in your large intestine to maintain a healthy colon. In TCM, barley grass is known to be one of the best functional foods for preventing chronic illnesses as it promotes sleep, regulates blood pressure, improves gastrointestinal function, and improves cognition. It also is known to be an antidiabetic, antidepressant, and antioxidant as well. Young barley grass contains carotene, a fat-soluble vitamin, which plays an important role in the health of the eyes, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, brain, and immune system. It also contains high GABA contents that can promote a restful night of sleep.
Cinnamon is an ingredient that is known in TCM to warm the spleen and kidneys. It expels the winter cold and promotes the circulation of qi to relieve bodily pain. Since it is categorized as hot in nature, cinnamon can help those who have too much cold in their body. If you have too much cold in your body, it is a yin excess, as yin is cold in nature, or a yang deficiency, as yang is hot in nature. Since the winter can cause our bodies to have yin and yang irregularities, cinnamon can help to restore balance in your body’s heat. This ingredient has been proven to have antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant, antitumor, antidiabetic, and gastroprotective properties. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cinnamon has been widely used to treat fevers, inflammation, and appetite affected by the flu or common cold for hundreds of years.
In TCM, rosemary is known for its ability to tonify yang. Given its ability to disperse cold, resolve dampness, expel wind, and alleviate phlegm, rosemary is helpful to treat the common cold. It is considered to be warm in temperature and enters the lung, spleen, heart, kidney, and liver. In the Middle Ages, the herb was used for memory improvement and to help lovers not forget one another. Therefore, it has a symbolic use for remembrance in weddings and commemorations. Overall, rosemary helps the body promote blood flow, boost mood, improve focus, support the immune system, warm the body, and clear dampness.
Citron is both an edible and medicinal fruit with confirmed healing properties that are anti-inflammatory in nature. In TCM, citron is also known for its antioxidative activity, as it regulates the flow of Qi in the liver and stomach. Since citron is bitter, pungent, and sour in taste, it tends to have a cleansing effect on the body, drying dampness and promoting elimination of toxins through the bladder. Its pungent taste promotes the circulations of Qi and bodily fluids. The Five Phases theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on the natural flavors of ingredients as a way to determine their action in the body.
Fermented soybean has proven to be effective for reducing the effects of diabetes, blood pressure, cardiac disorders, and cancer-related issues. Its nutritional value has gained much attention due to its increased health benefits when compared to non-fermented soybeans. Fermented soybean can also play a healing role by improving the immune response of the body against infection as well as controlling the severity of infection. A recent study from Japan reported that fermented soybean products like miso and natto have a significant impact in increasing the function of the immune system due to its balancing of the gut microbiota. In TCM, this ingredient has a pungent, sweet, and bitter property that is associated with the lungs and stomach. Its main function is to release exterior hot and exterior cold caused by a deficiency in yin. During the colder seasons, fermented soybeans have been used to reduce fever symptoms and relieve congestion.
Keep on staying strong
We have approached the time of winter nourishment which is rooted in what we eat. Food can cool the surface of the body by driving warmth into a deeper level during the colder months of the year. To fuel your immune system, it is important to continue to stay active during these months while also prioritizing rest and relaxation. With the five key ingredients of NOOCI’s ReNoo science-backed supplements, the harsh transition to winter can be alleviated through the healing properties of natural foods and holistic health.