As the cold snap hits, it seems we're well and truly hitting the full force of winter. For those of us in lockdown in particular, it's a great time to reassess our approach to self care and make some seasonal changes. Orchard St founder, Kirsten Shanks, is a qualified naturopath with training in a range key wellness topics ranging from yoga to Aryuvedic medicine, macrobiotic medicine, herbalism and more. It's no surprise we look to her for the best tips on how to keep our immune system in check and strive for that winter wellness glow. She gives us the low down on what ingredients we should seek, what practices we can look to adopt and how we can use this time as a way to rest and recover internally.
What is the biggest dietary mistake people make in winter?
Being a creature of habit rather than tuning in to the changing needs of our bodies.
An approach to eating that may have worked for you in the heat of summer may not necessarily be what will nourish you best in the cooler months. Perhaps longer periods of digestive rest are calling, or maybe a slower pace is calling for lighter, more easily assimilated foods. Often however our bodies crave richer, heartier meals which can be gently balanced by the occasional nourishing pause a cleanse provides. Honouring the intuitive callings of our bodies is imperative in all seasons, but the opportunity for reflection the quietude of Winter can provide valuable insight into our innate needs.
Can you tell us a bit about the ingredients you’ve used in the winter cleanse and why? What ingredients would you suggest will nourish us best in the cooler months?
The Winter Cleanse ingredients reflect our seasonal need for support, nourishment, energy and purification. Often I recommend letting a juice or smoothie bottle sit to room temperature and accompanying it with hot water or fresh ginger tea to support our agni (digestive fire).
Easily digestible plant-based protein and adaptogenic medicinal mushrooms are woven into a morning smoothie formulated to not only awaken but provide sustenance and endurance.
In the cleansing purify tonic you’ll find botanicals to warmth and enhance circulation, alongside antimicrobial and immune supportive p’au darco and reishi.
A green juice, included in all of our juice cleanses, ensures you reap the alkalising and replenishing benefits of over 1.5kg of organic green vegetables, this one further enhanced with botanicals to support kidney and lymphatic clearance.
The vegetable broth is a vital component to cleansing in cooler months, providing essential minerals for cellular nourishment. We accompany all broths with one of our favourite recipes from my kitchen, a sachet of Qi Bomb - which provides a little explosion into your broth of immune supportive medicinal mushrooms and herbs in a probiotic rich soy-free miso base.
The steeped botanicals within the afternoon Detox Tea bring the purifying prowess of revered botanicals for tonification and detoxification from Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicines.
The day ends with our warming and grounding macrobiotic Green Soup, providing support for phase 2 liver detoxification with sulphur rich broccoli, onion, leeks and garlic while supporting healthy gut flora and ensuring regularity with beans and miso.
What would you say is the hero ingredient for winter?
It would have to be our immunity elixir powder. It really is such powerhouse of support not only for immune function, providing protection and enhancing recovery, but it weaves in antimicrobial defence through your gut as well as adaptogenic support. A spoonful of this in my daily elixir, tea or smoothie works wonders! Sprinkling it into soups, broths and sauces for the family seems to keep us all super vital throughout winter too!
What would you recommend for those days when you know you’re run down and you need a saviour before it really hits?
REST. Hydration. Our Immune Drops. A potent fresh plant tincture this beauty can just be dropped under the tongue a few times each day to harness the protective support of nature quickly and easily.
What kind of practices should we be adopting in winter to take care of ourselves?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Winter is the most ‘yin’ time of the year. In honouring and connecting with this seasonality of the natural world, of which we are an intrinsic part, we can adopt slow, restorative and regenerative practises. Long walks, hatha or yin yoga, qi gong and embodied dance can be powerful forms of movement, as can time for reflection in meditation, journaling and inspiring company.
How can we use winter as a time to replenish our energy through food?
Let it be an opportunity to pause, to reflect on whether your dietary food choices are replenishing you, or depleting you. Perhaps it is not what you are eating, so much as how you are eating. It is only through cultivating self awareness and insight of our tendencies, habits and behaviours around food that we can instigate lasting positive change. There is no better way to replenish energy than honouring the innate needs of our bodies, and these needs may often only be revealed in times of gentle self reflection.
Any extra tips for staying well in winter?
Stress is our arch enemy when it comes to building and retaining a strong immunity. Long term stress with the chronically high levels of cortisol it brings, can significantly affect a number of immune function parameters including our susceptibility to colds and flus, capacity for wound healing, and the inflammatory response.
Doing all you can to help regulate your nervous system and adrenals is paramount to staying well, and this is where nature and Her medicines can offer powerful support.