3 Steps to Cultivating a Strong Gut for Winter

You might’ve noticed that as the seasons change and as we move into cooler temperatures… our bodies respond (some might say rebel).

Whether you’re swearing away the colder months with chanting and holy water or beckoning Christmas with Mariah Carey and Secret Santa… it’s inevitable that our digestive system undergoes additional stress during this time. Lucky for us, there are simple practices we can adopt to pacify the body and come out the other side of these winter months with strength and vitality.

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STEP 1: MORNING HYDRATION + WARM WATER

Challenge yourself to drink 16oz of warm lemon water each and every morning upon waking. I can’t stress enough how this benefits the body. Read my article for more information: 7 Reasons to Drink Lemon Water in the Morning. Drink these 16oz before any other foods or beverages!

Cut out ice water. Every time you drink ice water, your body has to use an exorbitant amount of energy to heat it back up. Especially if you are getting ready to eat! Your body requires that heat in order to digest properly and optimally.

Stick to hot, lukewarm, or room temperature water - especially during these colder months where the digestion is already disadvantaged from the colder temperatures.

HOW TO DO THIS: Hydrate with 16oz of warm lemon water in the morning & cut out ice water.

WHEN: Every morning and throughout the day.

STEP 2: SPICE YOUR FOOD

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Spice your food. This is not one to overlook. I know it seems trivial, but spicing your food is necessary to maintain digestive integrity.

Now, some of you might not have the most developed spice collection, and that is totally okay! You most likely have pepper, and at the very least… that is where you can start!

Pepper will do wonders for your digestion. Pepper is also a carminative, meaning it helps to dispel gas.

Eating something with a lot of sodium? Saucy? Cheesy? Add a healthy dose of pepper to give your digestion the boost it needs to get the job done.

Interested in diving a bit deeper? I have created spice blends specific to each dosha!

HOW TO DO THIS: spice each and every meal with doshic-specific spices,

WHEN: Each and every meal.

VATA Spice Blend (equal parts):

Experiencing gas (not smelly), bloating, dryness, constipation…? Try this:

  • Cumin

  • Ginger

  • Cardamom

  • Mustard

  • Paprika

  • Cinnamon

  • Nutmeg

  • & Asafetida/Hing (not equal parts, use ¼ of other amounts)

Make a larger batch (1tsp of each)


PITTA Spice Blend (equal parts):

Experiencing gas (smelly), heartburn, loose stools, excess heat…? Try this:

  • Coriander

  • Turmeric

  • Cardamom

  • Fennel

  • Paprika

Make a larger batch (1tsp of each)


KAPHA SPICE BLEND (equal parts):

Experience sluggish digestion, lethargy after eating, slow elimination, brain fog…? Try this:

  • Basil

  • Black Pepper

  • Garlic

  • Ginger

  • Chili Flakes

  • Mustard

Make a larger batch (1tsp of each)

HOW TO DO THIS: Use your digestive spice blend EVERY day. Incorporate at least 1 tsp into a meal of your choice every day.

WHEN: Every day.



STEP THREE: OIL YOUR SKIN

Hydrated your skin from the outside-in.

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Abhyanga is a traditional Ayurvedic practice that involves a self-oil massage. Applying oil externally is fabulous for your skin. It keeps it soft, strong, and feeds the microflora living on your skin!

Abhyanga is great for increasing circulation, warmth, tissue tonification, organ stimulation, and relaxation.

Think about all the areas of your skin that don’t get stimulation… maybe it’s the underside of the arms, or the buttocks tissue, or the inner thigh, or the calves. Take this time to invigorate this tissue and stimulate the metabolism of each and every cell.

Most importantly, it allows us the opportunity to come into positive contact with our physical body. It opens the doors for us to experience self-love and nourishment through one of our most primal senses – touch.

Oils Per Dosha

  • Vata: Sesame Oil, Almond Oil, or Avocado Oil

  • Pitta: Sunflower, Safflower Oil, or Coconut Oil

  • Kapha: Mustard Seed Oil

It’s quite simple: grab some oil (warm it up for the crème de la crème of Abhyanga). Start with your neck and work your way up to your feet. Really massage into the tissue and places that seldom get attention, circulation, or stimulation!

Make strokes toward your heart to stimulate circulation.

Interested in adding essential oils…? Place one drop into your oil and integrate into your abhyanga practice! Try these blends:

  • Vata: Cedar and Rose essential oil

  • Pitta: Sandalwood and Rose essential oil

  • Kapha: Bergamot essential oil (or other citrus based oils)

There is no wrong way to do this folks, just give it a go.

For those wondering how oiling your skin pacifies digestion: Self massage is soothing to the nervous system. Our nervous system plays an incredibly important role in regulating inflammation in the body, of which directly effects the digestive system. Read my article on the Gut Brain Connection for more information.

HOW TO DO THIS: Use a light, moderate amount of oil to massage your skin every single morning or evening.

WHEN: Every morning or evening.

Marina ZahranComment