According to traditional Chinese medicine our kidneys and adrenals require special care during these cold months of the year. The kidneys are considered the home of our life force. It is imperative to take good care of ourselves during the winter, to slow down, to rest more and to look within to preserve life force. It is helpful to eat warming foods. Meats, especially lamb and pork, are the most warming of foods. Many spices provide our body with inner warmth. Oils and fats are warming as well – use them more generously in the winter. Enjoy cooked intact whole grains as well as soups and stews with root vegetables and cabbages.
And without further ado, here is my list of 9 wintry superfoods to keep you warm and healthy
Buckwheat is warming and very nourishing and will keep your blood sugar balanced for many hours. Buckwheat is rich in flavonoids that protect against illness and boost the effectiveness of vitamin C in our body. Buckwheat is a great source of magnesium which relaxes blood vessels, improves circulation as well as the transport of nutrients to our cells and lowers blood pressure. Buckwheat elevates the level of hemoglobin and is a potent remedy against reoccurring colds and flus. A mixture of buckwheat flour and warm water when applied to aching joints makes for a soothing remedy.
Cinnamon has a warming effect and acts as an expectorant with colds, bronchitis and flus. Cinnamon relaxes muscles, strengthens the heart, lessens digestive upset and warms the kidneys. During the winter it is recommended to eat otherwise cooling fruits like apples, pears and plums baked in the oven and sprinkled with cinnamon. A mixture of cinnamon and honey can soothe a sore throat and calm infections. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and fights yeast, E.coli, flu viruses, staphylococci and the onset of pneumonia.
Ginger warms the body, soothes rheumatoid pain and strengthens our respiratory system. Ginger gives us energy, activates our metabolism and stimulates our immune system. The essential oil that gives ginger its typical spicy taste is a relative of salicylic acid, the ingredient found in aspirin which thins the blood and can prevent heart attacks. At the first sign of an oncoming cold grate about half of a thumb size piece of ginger into a cup, add the juice of half a lemon and fill up with hot water. Add honey to taste and drink to your health.
Garlic contains anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral components, which makes garlic an essential food during cold times. It strengthens our immune system and eases symptoms of colds in the nose, sinuses, throat and bronchi. Thanks to its high sulfide content it is a strong antioxidant that protects our cells against cancer and premature aging. Garlic helps us to isolate iron from food and facilitates in iron absorption into the bloodstream, where it is needed for the formation of hemoglobin and oxygen transportation.
The mineral rich cranberry also contains vitamin C, B1, 2, 3, and K as well as beta-carotene, from which the body can make vitamin A. Cranberries are anti-inflammatory and antibacterial and have an overall strengthening effect on the body. Since they increase stomach acid and stimulate the pancreas to release enzymes, cranberries make the absorption of nutrients more efficient. When you have a sore throat crush a few tablespoons of cranberries, add half the amount of honey and take a teaspoon of this mixture a couple of times throughout the day. Cranberry juice is an excellent remedy for bladder infections.
Sauerkraut, which is lacto-fermented cabbage, is probiotic, meaning life supporting. It supplies our intestines with friendly bacteria which fight bad bacteria, microbes and yeast. During the process of lacto-fermentation friendly bacteria increase the vitamin content of the cabbage tenfold. Sauerkraut is a living food that also supplies our body with valuable enzymes and thus helps with the digestion and absorption of our food. I recommend to eat the sauerkraut raw for maximum effect, even one or two tablespoons per day will be beneficial. In its raw sate all enzymes and friendly bacteria stay alive and active. You can also make a very simple and delicious salad by mixing sauerkraut with small cubes of cooked beets. Just add a little olive oil and pepper.
Warming hazelnuts provide us with a concentrated amount of nutrients and energy. They contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, oils, protein and fiber in abundance. One handful of hazelnuts provides enough energy for an hour-long workout. They protect our kidneys and prevent the forming of kidney stones. Hazelnuts contain a lot of vitamin E, which helps to keep our cell walls strong and protects our skin from free radicals. Minerals such as magnesium, phosphor and calcium strengthen our bones.
Butter contains fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K2 in abundance. K2 is connected to calcium metabolism and a deficiency in vitamin K2 can lead to illnesses of the circulatory system, cancer and osteoporosis. The short and medium chain fatty acids found in butter give us a feeling of satiety and encourage body fat to be burnt for energy. Butyric acid, one of the fatty acids found in butter is anti-inflammatory and protects the health of our digestive tract. The relationship of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is balanced, making butter a healthy fat.
Herring is one of the best food sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for strong teeth and bones and helps to prevent illnesses such as MS and diabetes. In the winter, when there is not enough sunlight for us to produce our own vitamin D from the cholesterol in our skin, herring is a welcome vitamin D source. In addition herring contains fatty acids that prevent heart problems, support our brain and soothe inflammatory processes in the body.