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Foods and Methods That Warm a Weak Body...

Jacqueline Raposo -- It's winter and cold in many parts of the country. As commuters rush off to work and students off to class, here are some natural alternatives to the usual cup o' joe for staying warm and healthy.

It’s cold in Cincinnati. Really cold. And in place of schlepping to the subway in the snow, I’m now cleaning snow off a car and sitting in cold coffee shops getting work done. So I’m reminded of my weak circulation and low blood pressure which contribute to being cold all the time. Here’s a few methods to stay warm amongst the snow!

Beat the winter cold… naturally!

Burdock Root:

Cooked or in tea form, burdock is VERY warming. You can get dried burdock root in Whole Foods and at some quirky tea shops. To brew into tea, put about a tablespoon or so in a filter and pour desired amount of boiling water on top, brew for about 5 minutes and strain. Careful though, as burdock can be really aggravating to those are sugar-intolerant. The other day I drank a thermos of about 22 ounces and was shaky as ever! This would have been alleviated a bit had I had more food in my stomach. So in certain circumstances it gives a nice, natural lift. But if a line is crossed, drink a lot of water to combat the shakes.

Ginger Root:

Ginger is warming and stimulating for the stomach. You can slice some fresh ginger root and simmer it in water for a delicious tea (adding local honey makes it to die for!) or zest it into an abundance of recipes. If you’re prone to a sensitive stomach or in a state of general upset, be careful with ginger tea. It can be too stimulating at times! Similarly, cinnamon, clove and allspice have warming properties (great to combine in baked goods or to spice up hot drinks such as cider or hot cocoa).

Foot care:

Yes, we lose a lot of heat through our heads. But poor circulation usually starts in the feet, and if the feet are cold, chances are the chest and digestive tract will be a tad chilly and sluggish as well. So don’t be afraid to stick on an extra set of socks. Also, those little air-reacting foot warmers are inexpensive and easy ways to keep the feet warm.

Essential Oils:

If you’re not going to be sliding around in socks, try rubbing a little rose, clove, allspice or cinnamon essential oil on your feet. These are stimulating for the entire system. They can also be helpful on the shoulders and neck for soothing and warming, or on the stomach for stimulation (ginger oil is also great for that). Just use precaution if you’re not familiar with essential oils, as some brands are more concentrated than others and can burn!

Spicy foods:

Hot foods utilizing spices such as wasabi, chilies, and crushed red pepper are great for the sinuses and do warm the body. Enjoy them more in the winter, and bundle up to prevent the chills from post consumption sweating!

No raw foods!

I know, raw fruit, yogurts and raw veggies are great. But they take more work from the digestive tract as the require more digestive “fire.” So stick to cooked, soft foods to naturally let the warm digestive tract do its job. Warm up your apple sauce! Stew frozen fruits into a beautiful warm, sweet dish! Especially avoid citrus fruit in the winter, as it has a cooling effect on the body (hence why it is grown in warm climates).

Drink broth:

Water is great, and we need to drink a lot of it (in the winter, try sticking to room temperature water instead of chilled). A great alternative to get some electrolytes and warm the body are chicken or vegetables broths. Try to choose organic if possible, as you’ll get more nutrients for your buck.

Eat grain and bean combinations:

Easily digestible beans such as mung and adzuki pair well with grains such as quinoa, millet, rice, and kasha. These are warming and filling, and are extra healthy when paired with cooked greens such as mustard, kale, or dandelion. This theory is taken from the acupuncture/qui/ayurvedic approach, which I find works especially well in this weather!

Eat locally:

It makes sense. In the winter, root vegetables, and hearty leafy greens abound. Our beautiful mother earth gives food from her warmth to warm us. So eat things produced around you, cooked gently. Baked apples! Delicious squashes with local molasses or maple syrup! Yum!

In general, try adding warming spices and scents to what you may already eat. Cinnamon, for example, is surprisingly delicious on cooked greens and chicken breasts. Warmed chicken or beef broth can be poured on many dinners to make a warming soup. While we tend to think of winter time as a chance to load on heavier foods such as meat, potatoes, and pastas, we should embrace the opportunity to think warm and light with soups of lentils, grains, and lots of veggies. Of course, with ginger and cinnamon thrown in!

A classically trained actor, Jacqueline Raposo has lived with Lyme Disease, and other health conditions, since the age of 12. In moving from chronic illness to chronic wellness, she has explored numerous means to better understand and heal her body and now offers natural health remedies, medicine foods, and clear insight based on her personal experiences, research, and success. Visit her blog at to learn more about dietary and lifestyle factors in achieving greater wellness and balance.

© 2010 I Am A Whole Human, Being

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