The five element philosophy teaches that one fosters health by eating foods that correspond with the seasons. The five element theory originated in China and spread to Japan. The theory is based on five seasons. Each season corresponds with an element, environment, organ pair, flavour and emotion. (The five elements relate to each other in terms of cycles but we won’t go into that now.)
Foods to support the kidneys and bladder during winter
Winter is the season of the kidney and its partner organ, the bladder. Chinese Medicine considers that kidney deficiency is an underlying cause of many ailment, including frequent urination, lack of energy, memory loss, lower back and knee pain, heel and ankle pain, swollen ankles, low libido, impotence and severe menopausal symptoms.
The appropriate flavour for this season is salty. Try to incorporate foods that taste salty such as seafood, beans, bone broth, miso, tamari, and pickles. Beneficial foods include flax, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, black sesame seeds, walnuts, chestnuts, barley, millet, and deep green vegetables. The herb Rehmannia is of benefit here.
At Shizuka Ryokan, in winter we serve yuzu scallops. Scallops are the perfect tonic for the kidneys.