Our digestive health typically needs some extra care in the winter. According to Ayurveda — yoga’s sister science of holistic medicine — the digestive fire is at its strongest during this time, due to the cold.
We may feel that our bodies are burning more calories to help keep us warm, thus driving us to seek more nutrient-dense food. Our immune systems are also connected to our digestive systems, and we all know how easy it is to get sick during the winter months if our bodies are out of balance.
Eating a healthy diet complete with fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies, plus remembering to hydrate with enough water is really just the starting point for balancing our digestive systems now and any time of year. This winter, however, you can turn to the following natural remedies to help you restore balance and stoke your digestive fire.
Ginger may help with relieving indigestion, nausea, painful menstrual cramps, and more. To make your own ginger tea, just slice two inches of fresh ginger root (peeled or not peeled) into thin slices, boil 3 to 4 cups of water, pour it into a teapot, add the ginger and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes. If you like the warm, spicy flavour of ginger, you can certainly add more of it next time — just be sure to start out with less and add as more as desired.
If the flavor of ginger doesn’t exactly fly with you, maybe peppermint will. Like ginger, it may help ease symptoms of indigestion and also menstruation. You can make your own tea with it by adding half a cup of dry peppermint leaves to 3 to 4 cups of boiled water and leaving it to steep for about five minutes. For a little extra sweetness, optionally add a couple drops of honey.
Turmeric Anti-Inflammatory Tea
Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and there have been claims that it helps with stomach upset, stomach ulcers, and even irritable bowel syndrome — although there isn’t enough scientific proof to say that it will. Nevertheless, you can use turmeric in your cooking or even make your own turmeric tea. Primal Palate has a lovely turmeric anti-inflammatory tea recipe using turmeric powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, raw honey, and fresh lemon juice.
Coriander, Cumin, and Fennel Tea
Known to help support good digestion, coriander is a nice little herb that may help with stomach discomfort and even nausea. While it’s best used it as a garnish for certain meals, you can also make tea with it. Joyful Belly has an Ayurveda tea recipe that uses coriander seed, cumin, and fennel seed to detoxify the body and help with digestion.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar — the dark, unfiltered kind with the chunks of stuff floating at the bottom of it (called “the mother”) — is a popular health tonic for killing bacteria throughout digestive system to soothe an upset stomach and other digestive troubles. Bragg’s is one of the best known brands out there, and many grocery stores carry it. You can add 1 to 2 tablespoons to 8 ounces of water to sip on, or optionally add some fresh lemon juice or honey if you can’t stand the vinegary flavour. Unfortunately, you can’t make tea with apple cider vinegar because adding it to boiling water will kill all the beneficial active cultures that it contains.
Having a happy digestion system throughout the winter can help you ward off that sluggish feeling, sleep better at night, feel more energized throughout the day, and help you make the most of your yoga practice. So drink up these recipes, and enjoy the digestive benefits!