Kidney Yin, also called primordial Yin, true Yin or true water, is the foundation of the Yin fluid of the whole body; it moistens and nourishes the organs and tissues. From a Western perspective this is closely related to having healthy reserves in your adrenal gland.
A key piece of nutritional wisdom for Kidney Yin is to focus on tonifying foods that moisten, along with some mildly cooling foods, and to resist a temptation to overdo raw cooling foods that may put out a digestive fire.
A wide and varied diet is important – Kidney Yin is about the deep reserves in the body including nutritional reserves and restoring the hard working adrenal glands.
We suggest a varied diet that provides a broad array of vitamins, flavonoids, carotenes, trace elements, minerals, and amino acids.
When Kidney Yin is deficient it is not the time to eat the same foods over and over again.
Avoid hot and dry foods like chili, horseradish, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves mustard and garlic during the warm months of the year. Small amounts are fine during the winter.
Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol which both deplete the kidney/adrenals and heat up the body.
Water and oil – Since Yin is about moisture, suggest ample water throughout the day. Linseed, Evening Primrose and Olive oils are nourishing to anyone with yin deficiency and reduce inflammation. Coconut oil is of prime importance and butter can be beneficial.
Salty flavoured foods: miso, sea salt, seaweed, tamari, salted raw sauerkraut. Each of the five elements in TCM has a flavour attributed to it, and the Water flavour which governs Kidneys is salty. To support the Water element, recommend a healthy amount of salt, as too much salt will have the opposite effect. Check to make sure your client is not getting too much, and that she has replaced commercial table salt with sea salt.
Kidney shaped foods: black beans, kidney beans, most beans – Because beans are kidney shaped as well as seeds with potential for new life, these foods have long been considered especially nourishing to the Kidneys.
Tofu nourishes the kidney yin.
Avocado is a nourishing yin tonic.
Blue and black foods: Blueberries, blackberries, mulberry, black beans – The colours blue and black correspond to the Water element of the Kidneys. It is possible to strengthen the Water element by eating blue/black foods.
Seafood: fish, shrimp, seaweeds – all support the Water element.
Seeds: flax, pumpkins, sunflower, black sesame – seeds relate to fertility and growth which is governed by Kidney energy.
Nuts: Walnuts, Chestnuts – Nuts are seeds. These nuts are particularly recommended for Kidney energy.
Almonds soaked in apple juice are nourishing.
Animal Products:, duck (live on the water), lamb, eggs, cheese – Small amounts of animal protein can be used therapeutically here.
Bob Flaws, L.Ac., author of The Tao of Healthy Eating says, “… animal foods
are the most direct way to get the building blocks and constituents of this Yin essence.”.
Since animal products are dense foods there are some cautions: If there is digestive impairment, the high fat content of duck may be too much. Lamb is the most warming of the meats, so if the person has a lot of hot flashes or night sweats, this may not be appropriate. Excess cheese may be too dampening for the Spleen. Too much meat, particularly without the balance of vegetables, will Stagnate the Liver and create heat. Look to the individual to decide on the ideal amount of
Bone-Marrow Broths & Soups – This will nourish Marrow governed by Kidneys. Especially beneficial for people wanting to prevent or heal osteoporosis.
Vegetarians can take Martin and Pleasance Cell salt “combination U”- 3 tablets per day to prevent osteoporosis. This adds calcium to the body and reduces acidity-which robs calcium from the bones.
Grains: Barley, Millet. These are both mildly cooling and nourishing to Yin.
Vegetables: Asparagus, Deep green leafy vegetables – Since it has diuretic properties, asparagus is especially helpful with opening the flow for those with dark, scanty urine. Deep green leaf vegetables build the Blood, and since Blood is a Yin fluid, they are highly recommended. Also moist vegetables such as cucumbers and celery are helpful. Sweet potatoes are nourishing .
Fruits and Melons: These are emphasized since they are moistening and mildly cooling. Too much fruit can be too cooling resulting in diarrhoea, but 2-4 pieces of fruit a day should be fine.
Most fruits if eaten in their growing season are suitable as they tend to be nourishing and building of the fluids (Yin).
If the yin defiency is creating overheating in the body then melons can be used in the summer to cool down.
Tonics: Spirulina-highly recommended!, kelp, chlorella, wheatgrass(can grow at home)– These mineral rich foods build the Blood which enhances Yin. They are also high in nucleic acids (RDA/DNA) which have been shown to reduce signs of aging.
Aloe Vera juice is nourishing for kidney yin-especially if there is any inflammation of the digestive tract.
Mineral rich herbs: Nettles, Oatstraw. Nettles is a gentle, cooling tonic that supports the Blood and Kidneys, while oatstraw strengthens the nerves.
Moistening herbs: Marshmallow, slippery elm, licorice, aloe vera gel – these are all moistening demulcents with high mucilage content. Flax seed tea could be used here too.
Chinese Herbs: Rehmannia root – often found in the patent formula used for Kidney Yin Deficiency called “Six Flavor Tea Pills” or “Rehmannia Six”. This formula contains wild yam .
Lifestyle Shift: Plan a Kidney Yin Building Day
Take a break from the stimulation of media: newspapers, radio, tv, movies, to help you go deeper inside to restore the Yin.
No matter your age, if you experience some Kidney Yin Deficiency signs, schedule a day for contemplation and renewal.
Though winter is a particularly beneficial time for this, it can be done anytime.
Sample Kidney Yin Day
Upon arising: A glass of warm water
Contemplative activity: Gentle stretch followed by prayer / meditation
Breakfast: Yogurt with blueberries or blackberries, sunflower and flax seeds
Beverage: Nettle tea
Restorative Activities: walking, tai qi, relaxed creative projects
Beverage Break: A glass of water (room temperature)
More Restful Activities: Crafts, poetry, journal writing
Mid-morning snack: Freshly toasted pumpkin seeds with a little sea salt.
Beverage break: Two teaspoons of aloe vera gel in a glass of water (room temperature)
Lunch: Seafood on a bed steamed deep green leafy vegetables with a side of millet
Exercise: Gentle walk
Contemplation: Afternoon meditation and journal writing
Beverage break: A glass of water (room temperature)
Rest: Lying in a hammock and reading, or listening to a guided imagery tape
Afternoon snack: Fruits
Beverage break: A glass of water (room temperature)
Activity: Restorative yoga poses, qi gong-followed by 15 minute relaxation practice during kidney time of day –which is 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Dinner: Black bean and barley soup, flavoured with miso
Dessert: Baked pear with walnuts and raisins
Evening beverage: Marshmallow & Oatstraw tea
Before bed: A warm bath with your favourite relaxing music, watch a candle burn
Go to sleep early