January is here, the temperature has dropped and there is a brisk chill in the air.  When Chinese Medicine was developed thousands of years ago, people lived in harmony with the seasons, adapting their lifestyles and foods around the changing conditions.  Winter represents the most Yin aspect of Chinese Medicine, it is a cold, dark, slow inward energy.  The organ associated with Winter is the Kidney and we should pay particular attention to supporting its function at this time of year.  The Kidney houses our ‘Jing’, our fundamental or pre-natal energy.  It in turn uses this precious resource to support all our other organs particularly in times of stress, working long hours, and over indulgence in  rich foods and alcohol. Unlike the energetic Yang season of Summer, Winter is a time for turning inward, a time for quiet reflection, for early nights,  more rest and  less activity.   Food should be eaten according to what is seasonally available, squashes, potatoes, winter greens, root vegetables, mushrooms, pears and apples.  Food should be cooked long and slow, soups and casseroles are ideal.  The Kidney is responsible for our bones, and this is why nourishing bone broths are important at this time of year.  Vitamin D3 is an important component of bone health and also a lack of this Vitamin may contribute to feelings of depression at this time of year.  Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D3 as our food alone cannot provide us with enough so it might be worth supplementing our diets at this time of year. Anyone wishing to find our more about the role of Vitamin D and autoimmune disease and chronic disease, would do well to watch Dr Michal Holick’s excellent lecture, click here for more information.

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