This past week we experienced our first freeze of the season in Nashville, and it felt cold! I immediately wanted warmer clothes and looked deep into my drawers for a special piece of clothing for winter: my haramaki. A haramaki is a traditional Japanese piece of clothing worn around the hara (midsection). During cold weather it is beneficial to keep the abdominal and peritoneal organs warm—most importantly, the intestines and kidneys.
The kidneys are one of the most sensitive organs to cold: cold weather and cold food and drink. They are also weakened by poor sleep and staying awake deep into the night, excess liquids, animal protein, caffeine, alcohol and sugar.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is signified by the element of water. It is a time for hibernation and stillness. The kidneys/bladder/reproductive organs are the organs that are most sensitive during this time of year, and the organs we should provide extra support. The kidneys are our source of vitality. So, if you experience worsened fatigue, especially during the winter, you may have kidney imbalance or weakness. People who suffer from kidney weakness also have frequent urination, especially during the nighttime, and may suffer from low back pain.
One way to strengthen the kidneys is to nourish them with warm foods seasoned with a slightly salty flavor and supply them with foods that are high in minerals, like sea vegetables and miso soup. Beans are also supportive and provide a good protein source that is easily processed and not toxic. Long sautéed vegetables and warming soups and stews can be used medicinally to support and strengthen the kidneys while providing warmth to the body on cold winter days.
About the Author
Sommer White, MD, is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician practicing Integrative and Functional Medicine in west Nashville. After completing residency she received further education at the Institute for Functional Medicine, Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the Kushi Institute for Natural Healing. She is the medical director and founder of Vitality, a medical wellness center, where she integrates western medicine with eastern philosophies of healing to provide a unique approach to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. She specializes in culinary, nutritional and lifestyle medicine and travels around the United States lecturing and doing workshops on holistic health and a natural approach to healing. For more information visit her website: www.sommerwhitemd.com