Nutrition Corner: Winter Is A Good Time To Strengthen the Kidneys

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), winter is associated with the kidneys, which play an important role in most of the basic and fundamental functions of our body.

From the TCM perspective, the kidney system involves the physical kidneys, the adrenals and the bladder, which is the paired organ for the kidney system. The system also includes the kidney and bladder acupuncture meridians and goes far beyond the role of the physical kidneys as defined by Western medicine. The kidney system provides the root of our overall energy and has a large influence on our vitality, growth and reproduction. This begins when we are still in the womb and continues to play a role in how well we age throughout our life.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are the powerhouse of the body, supplying reserve energy to any organ running low on Qi. If kidney Qi (or functioning) is impaired, symptoms may include lack of energy, decreased libido, premature aging signs, lower back and knee pain, frequent urination day and night, poor memory, early onset of dementia and ankle puffiness. Women may experience irregular periods, early menopause, severe menopause symptoms, infertility and frequent miscarriage. Men may experience impotence, reduced sperm quality and infertility.

A healthy kidney system depends on obtaining nutrients from the food that we eat. Many foods have an essence that resonates with the kidneys. Foods that build strong kidney function include scallops, small dried prawns, walnuts, chives, goji berries, black beans, soybeans, lamb or lamb bone soup, beef or beef bone soup. Winter is a good time to enjoy soups or stews made with these ingredients. Longer cooking methods can not only help with digestion of these foods, but also draw out more nutrients from each ingredient.

Strengthening the kidneys in winter is smart, enabling us to stay healthy and more energized by harmonizing our bodies with the seasons. And do keep in mind that in order to vitalize the kidneys, it’s important to slow down and conserve energy by getting more rest, especially in the cold, dark winter months.